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Foreigners can now own 100% of wholesale, retail businesses in Saudi Arabia
Wednesday June 15, 2016 1:02 PM, News Network

Foreign investors can now own 100 percent of retail and wholesale businesses in Saudi Arabia. An approval to this effect was granted by the Council of Ministers here late Monday night.

The Cabinet chaired by Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques King Salman also approved a tax on undeveloped urban land, Minister of State, Member of the Cabinet and Acting Minister of Culture and Information Aasem Saeed said in a statement carried by the Saudi Press Agency.

The rules permitting full foreign ownership of retail and wholesale operations were originally announced last September. Previously, the ownership ceiling was set at 75 percent, Saudi Gazette reported Wednesday.

“The decision is in line with Vision 2030 to ease restrictions on ownership and foreign investment in the retail sector to attract regional and international brands, contributing to the creation of job opportunities for citizens in this sector,” said the Cabinet statement.

The Cabinet also approved 2.5 percent annual tax on the value of undeveloped land designated for residential or commercial use.

The tax will be applied in stages to owners of plots exceeding 5,000 square meters.

The measure aims to help resolve a shortage of affordable housing in Saudi Arabia by putting more unused land on the market where it can be acquired by developers.

The Ministry of Housing will collect the tax and fines imposed for violation of the rules.

The Cabinet also restructured the Board of Directors of Saudi Arabian Airlines headed by a president appointed by an order of the prime minister.

It will have as members the Director General of the General Organization of Saudi Arabian Airlines and four people representing government agencies, and five people representing the private sector to be appointed by the Cabinet.

Their membership duration will be for three years, which can be renewed once.

The appointment of the Chairman of the General Organization of Saudi Arabian Airlines, and members of the Board of Directors will be on the nomination of the Chairman of the Council of Economic and Development Affairs (CEDA).

The Cabinet decided that the Minister of Transport will be the Chairman of the Board of Directors of the Saudi Railways (SAR), and that the company will be the owner of the infrastructure of the projects for transport of rail lines linking the cities of the Kingdom.

The Cabinet commended the UN decision to delete the name of the coalition countries defending the legitimacy in Yemen from the list annexed to the report of the Secretary General on children and military conflicts as the report was not based on accurate and reliable information about the coalition’s efforts. The Cabinet reiterated the keenness of the coalition to ensure the security, stability and safety of civilians including children.

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