Saudi Arabia: Competitiveness from innovation, not inheritance

Authors: Karim Ouled Belayachi and Jamal Ibrahim Haidar
Publication: Celebrating Reforms 2008
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Starting a business in Saudi Arabia used to be limited to those who could afford one of the highest minimum capital requirements in the world—$125,000 for limited liability companies. The need to transform the Saudi economy was clear—from one based on inherited wealth to one based on innovation. A political commitment to reform was necessary.  In July 2007 Saudi Arabia slashed the minimum capital requirement and simplified business startup procedures. This case study follows the process and measures the results.

Main Findings

  • Starting a business used to require 13 procedures; now it takes only 7.
  • The time to start a business fell from 39 days in 2006 to just 15 days in 2007.
  • According to Doing Business, the country’s ease of starting a business ranking soared from 159 in 2007 to 36 in 2008.