One of the biggest obstacles for any entrepreneur or SME setting up their business in a new country is the humungous amount of paperwork needed, particularly in case of getting a licence to operate there. Various governments across the globe understand this challenge and are taking steps to simplify the process of doing business in the country, which in turn, attracts foreign investments and businesses to set up and add to the country’s GDP.
In 2019, Saudi Arabia opened its doors and simplified guidelines to pull in more visitors to the nation. Their visa-on-arrival and online visa application system went live this year on 27 September, and since then, over 50,000 visitors have travelled to the country.
Saudi Arabia, which is the GCC’s largest economy and also houses one of the world’s most profitable companies, has announced its plan to start an instant work visa scheme next month for SMEs and entrepreneurs who are thinking of setting up their base in the country.
“[The work visa service] will enable young Saudis to launch start-up projects, open small businesses, boost economic growth and accelerate business expansion plans, which will have a positive impact on national development.”
Ahmed Al-Rajhi, the minister of labour and social development
The ministry mentioned that this decision was made after undertaking an extensive study into the requirements of SME entrepreneurs. Therefore, this work visa has been designed especially for assisting new small enterprises. Additionally, the service would be available through Saudi’s Qiwa platform that is particularly designed for SMEs. This initiative is likely to also make it easier for Saudis to begin more and more start-ups.
This announcement was made during a meeting held with entrepreneurs from Hail Chamber of Commerce and Industry. It also said that entrepreneurs would now be able to gain from a set of integrated tools made available for SMEs. After an initial grace period, the ministry is planning to introduce a new framework which will nationalise the workforce of these businesses under the Saudi nationalisation scheme named, Nitaqat.
It’s a fact that SMEs are the backbone of any economy. As Saudi Vision 2030 is aiming diversification of its economic dependence away from oil, it is now also working to strengthen the tourism and economic sector by taking new initiatives to attract investors and businesses to the Kingdom. Under the Vision 2030, there are plans to enhance the contribution of SMEs to the country’s GDP from 20% in 2016 (when the vision was announced) to about 35% by the year 2030.
Though further details about the new visa service scheme are yet to be announced, it is a good sign for new businesses, particularly SMEs and start-ups based in the Middle East, who are planning to do foreign company registration in Saudi Arabia and gain from the large economy.