Saudi Arabia to allow full foreign ownership of engineering firms

RIYADH (Reuters) - Saudi Arabia will allow foreign companies to own engineering services companies in full, without requiring them to partner with a Saudi-owned firm, the cabinet announced on Monday night.

The foreign company would need to have existed for at least 10 years to qualify, the cabinet statement said. It would also need to be multinational, with operations in at least four countries.

The kingdom’s investment authority, SAGIA, announced last year that it would accept applications for wholly owned engineering consultancies but did not set out procedures for implementation.

Previously, foreign engineering companies were regulated by the commerce ministry and required to partner with a Saudi engineering firm.

Saudi Arabia is liberalizing its business regulations to attract more investors and diversify its economy away from oil.

SAGIA announced eased ownership restrictions in the wholesale and retail sectors in 2015, and awarded its first full foreign ownership investment license to Dow Chemical Co last year.

Reporting by Katie Paul; editing by Jason Neely