Saudi Arabia

Core Facts

  • Population:  33M
  • GDP:  USD 646 billion
  • GDP per head:  USD 23,313
  • Workforce:  11M
  • Unemployment (2017):  5.6%


Saudi Arabia applies Sharia law and all Saudi state laws must comply with Sharia principles. In recent years Saudi Arabia has been seeking both to open its markets to foreign business and to improve the employment opportunities of its own nationals. The policy of Saudisation which promotes the employment of Saudi nationals has been strengthened as unemployment, particularly amongst younger Saudis, has risen.

For non-Saudi employees Saudi Arabia applies a sponsorship system. The sponsored foreign employee needs the approval of a State approved sponsor to enter, work in and leave the country. Approval of the sponsor for general residence issues such as leasing a property or opening a bank account may also be required. There are many procedural matters that the global business needs to understand in order to do business in Saudi Arabia, particularly in its dealings with the Saudi Authorities.