Saudi Arabia admits foreigners to the fortress
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Saudi Arabia admits foreigners to the fortress

Fancy Taif rather than Tenerife for your next summer vacation? Reckon property prices in Riyadh have more upside potential than those in Rome? If so, why not take the next flight to the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia? Although you’ll need a visa, you may soon be able to acquire one without jumping through the tortuous hoops of finding local Saudi sponsors prepared to vouch for your good character. Saudi Arabia, historically fortress-like in its approach to uninvited guests, is starting to open its doors to unlikely visitors. The Kingdom has just passed a new investment law described in a recent report published by the Saudi American Bank (Samba) as a “U-turn away from the old investment system”. It is also gearing up to give foreigners direct exposure to a stock market that has so far been accessible only via a single investment trust and (more recently) mutual funds. New legislation is being prepared that will allow foreign individuals to buy Saudi real estate. And senior Saudi policymakers are even talking seriously about more tourism – not just of the local, regional or religious variety, either. After all, the thinking seems to be, other Gulf economies have seen tourists landing on their shores, and survived.

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