According to the kingdom’s General Investment Authority, officials granted 70 percent more licenses to prospective foreign businesses during the first quarter of 2019 compared to the same period last year. British and Chinese companies in the fields of education and information technology received most of the permits. The spike in foreign interest is good news for a government looking to wean itself from its reliance on oil.
Does that mean investors are bullish? While foreign direct investment doubled to $3 billion in 2018, that’s still below the last decade’s average, as many remain wary of Saudi Arabia’s human rights record and its ambitious economic plans.