An unprecedented $17.3 billion in foreign investment was received by Saudi Arabia in 2005 according to Saudi financial authorities. The impressive figure is largely expected to rise due to the recent induction of the Kingdom into the World Trade Organization (WTO) in December.
Amr Dabbagh, chairman of the Saudi Arabian General Investment Authority (SAGIA) stated that "Accession will significantly enhance Foreign Direct Investment (FDI). We will have more access to world markets."
"But the accession will not change the kingdom's investment strategy," he added.
Saudi officials are currently trying to attract billions of foreign funds in domestic projects, a strategy which has thus far paid off, according to Middle East Onliine.
"There is no restriction for foreigners to buy 100 percent of Saudi companies or totally own their projects," Dabbagh said.
He pointed out that a recent decision issued by the Saudi government will allow foreign businessmen to obtain visas within 24 hours to facilitate their entry into the kingdom, he said.
The record investments for 2005 reflect a 17-fold increase over the same period the previous year, while in the second quarter alone, the kingdom received $10.9 billion in foreign investments, reflecting a 46-fold increase over the corresponding period of 2004, according to Dabbagh.
After more than a decade of talks regarding the approval of Saudi Arabia for WTO membership, the organization in November approved induction of the Kingdom into its ranks.