Saudi Arabia was the largest beneficiary of foreign direct investment (FDI) in the Arab world in 2006 according to a recent UN report, the Arab News reported today. The Kingdom attracted $18 billion, a 51 percent increase over 2005.
The report, by the UN Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD), was published on Tuesday. UNCTAD is the UN General Assembly’s primary organ for dealing with trade, investment and development issues.
According to the report, the increase in FDI was due to the region’s strong economic growth, improved business climate and high oil prices.
The Kingdom has also taken measures in recent years to attract foreign investment. An example is the Supreme Economic Council (SEC) decision to allow foreign investment in key sectors such as insurance services, wholesale and retail trade, air and train transport, and communications services.
Secretary-General Abdulrahman Al-Tuwaijeri said that the SEC’s move was in line with Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques King Abdullah’s economic reforms to strengthen the economy, attract more foreign investment and improve private sector participation, according to the Arab News.
According to the UNCTAD report, the top five recipients of FDI in West Asia are as follows: Turkey was at the top ($20 billion FDIs); Saudi Arabia was second ($18 billion); the UAE third ($8 billion); Jordan fourth ($3.1 billion); and Bahrain fifth ($2.9 billion).