King Fahd of Saudi Arabia called on the government Monday to take measures to attract foreign investment in the country, the official SPA news agency reported. The cabinet also approved the founding of an agency concerned with promoting tourism in the kingdom.
The king told the weekly meeting of his cabinet here that it was necessary to "make administrative procedures easier for (foreign investors) to obtain permission to enable them to carry out their projects in the kingdom."
He stressed the "important role" to be played by investors and the private sector "in giving momentum to the investment projects in the country."
He praised Saudi investors as "credible and inspiring confidence."
A new investment law to attract foreign capital came into effect in Saudi Arabia last week, reducing taxation and allowing 100 percent foreign ownership of companies, which had previously been limited to 49 percent.
Foreign entrepreneurs will also no longer have to seek out a Saudi associate.
On Sunday the kingdom started to discuss investment projects in the energy sector worth a total of 30 billion dollars with major US and European firms.
The discussions focused on the development of gas fields, power generation and refining.
Saudi Arabia holds one quarter of the world's crude oil reserves, estimated at 261 billion barrels. Its gas reserves are put at 6,000 billion cubic meters (210,000 billion cubic feet).
NEW TOURISM BODY SET UP IN SA
The Saudi news agency also reported Monday that upon a new decree issued by the Saudi Cabinet, a Supreme Commission For Tourism (SCT) will be established as an artificial independent personality which will directly report to the council of ministers.
The agency added the Riyadh-based organization will have the right to establish branches or offices on need.
The commission will mainly be interested in tourism in the kingdom and its development as well as enhancement of the role of the tourism sector and eradication of obstacles that might face it.
The founding of the body, whose administrative council includes the foreign and interior ministers, Saud al-Faisal and Nayef bin Abdel Aziz, was approved Monday by the Saudi cabinet, chaired by King Fahd.
Saudi authorities have recently simplified the issue of tourist visas.
Last October, the country decided to set up a tourist investment company with a capital base of 14.4 million dollars.
Since 1995, it has invested more than 6.66 billion dollars in tourist projects.
The kingdom has around 330 hotels with some 30,000 rooms, and has state-of-the-art outlets at Yanbu on the Red Sea as well as Abha in the fertile province of Assir, and the holiday center of Taef in the west of the country – (Agencies).
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