How to start a business in Saudi Arabia

Expats’ Blueprint – How to Start a Business in Saudi Arabia


Saudi Arabia is the place to be for expatriate entrepreneurs with big dreams.

This place is brimming with opportunities and boasts one of the Arab world’s largest economies – it’s like a dream playground for ambitious folks like you.

What’s even better? Setting up a business here isn’t just a walk in the park; it comes with some sweet perks like tax benefits.

Plus, you can own 100% of your business and even join forces with Saudi partners if that’s your jam.

If you’re thinking about diving into the Saudi Arabian market, here’s a step-by-step guide to help you navigate the whole process of starting a business setup there.

1. Research and Planning

Research the market trends, consumer preferences, and competition, and identify a profitable business idea.

(You can learn about MOFA attestation in Saudi Arabia for starting a business).

In Saudi Arabia, there are different ways to start your business.

One cool option is an LLC, which lets you own 100% of your business there and team up with Saudi partners too.

Just choose what works best for your business goals.

3. Business Licensing

Obtain the necessary licenses and permits. 

The Ministry of Investment Saudi Arabia (MISA), formerly known as the Saudi Arabian General Investment Authority (SAGIA), oversees foreign investment and licensing.

Also, apply for a commercial registration (CR) certificate from the Ministry of Commerce & Investment in this phase.

4. Other Documents

Also, submit the following documents to confirm the company’s estabilishment:

  • Proof of ID and address for directors and shareholders
  • Passport copies for shareholders and directors
  • Copy of trade name confirmation
  • Memorandum of Association (MOA)
  • Articles of Association (AOA)
  • Bank reference letter

5. Get the Required Approvals

Obtain approvals from the following authorities

  • General Authority of Zakat and Tax (GAZT)
  • Ministry of Labor (MoL)
  • The Chamber of Commerce
  • The General Organisation for Social Insurance (GOSI)

6. Opening the Bank Account

Open a local Saudi Arabia bank account.

7. Local Partner Requirements

In certain types of businesses, you need a local partner who’s a Saudi citizen – especially in areas like retail.

When setting things up, make sure the role and share of your local partner are clearly outlined in the trade agreements.

8. Registering the National Address

You’ll need to “Register Wasel,” which means giving the government a local address. This national address facilitates services such as e-commerce and postal services.

9. Specific Licensing (if needed)

Moreover, particular activities call for specific licenses from the relevant government departments.

For instance, pharmaceutical companies need a Saudi Food and Drug Association license.

10. Capital Requirements

Secure funding through savings, getting loans, or even finding investors to meet the capital requirements.

11. Hiring Employees

Now, you’ll need to hire employees. 

For this, you must follow Saudization regulations by hiring Saudi employees based on the specific quotas set by the government.

Make sure to register the employees with the right authorities.

12. Network and Establish Connections

Networking is integral to success in Saudi Arabia.

Getting a membership with the local Chamber of Commerce in Saudi Arabia can be a smart move.

Attend business events, conferences, and exhibitions to connect with potential clients, partners, and suppliers.

Key Takeaways

Setting up a company in Saudi Arabia
  • Yep, doing business in Saudi Arabia has its challenges, but teaming up with locals and planning smart can tackle them.
  • Building relationships and being a good host matter a lot in Saudi business circles.
  • Make the most of what the Government support programs offer.

Some Confusing FAQs

  1. How much does it cost to set up a business in Saudi Arabia?

The cost of setting up a business in Saudi Arabia can vary widely depending on factors like the type of business, location, size, and specific requirements. However, a rough estimate is that the minimum capital investment required to establish an LLC is SR 500,000.

  1. What are the risks of doing business in Saudi Arabia?

The risks of doing business in Saudi Arabia include: 

  • IP laws
  • Delayed government payments (for government contractors)
  • Inflation risks
  • Commercial disputes
  1. Why Should Foreigners Invest In Saudi Arabia?

Investing in Saudi Arabia appeals to business folks because of its smart location, friendly business vibe, expanding young market, and forward-thinking vision.


So, in a nutshell, starting a business in Saudi Arabia is a real opportunity – it’s open to foreign investments too.

The rewards could be pretty good if you’re ready to dive into this exciting scene.

But here’s the thing- you’ve got to get a deep understanding of Saudi laws and rules to succeed.

Remember, each business situation is different, so it’s cool to get advice from experts who know the Saudi setup thoroughly.

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