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RIYADH: International investors no longer have to visit a Saudi embassy to get a visa to travel to the Kingdom after the process for applying for the permit was moved online.

The government have introduced the second phase of the “Investor Visitor” e-visa service, expanding its coverage from nearly 60 nations to include all countries worldwide, as reported by the Saudi Press Agency. 

This e-visa can be used for multiple entries and has a validity period of up to one year. Some beneficiaries may receive access immediately, enabling them to explore investment opportunities in the Kingdom directly.  

This service is part of the Kingdoms’s ongoing efforts to align with the Vision 2030 initiative, with a focus on improving the investment environment and facilitating the start of business activities.  

Mohammed Abahussain, deputy of Integrated Investors Services at the Ministry of Investment, explained that the visa is designed to provide international prospects and employees of foreign entities the opportunity to apply for an electronic visitor visa through the ministry’s platform.  

It will manage the application process and digitally issue the authorization through the unified national visa platform of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, eliminating the need for physical visits to Saudi missions abroad for biometric data collection.  

This expansion includes individuals from countries listed on the “Invest in Saudi Arabia” platform, those holding valid tourist or business visas from the US, the UK, or Schengen countries, and those with permanent residency in the US, the UK, or EU countries.  

Additionally, individuals holding valid residency for a minimum of three months in the Gulf Cooperation Council countries and entities licensed by the Ministry of Investment for three immediate visas per year can also benefit.   

The Kingdom has seen a surge of over 135 percent in foreign investment licenses, reaching 2,192 permits during the third quarter of 2023 as part of a push to attract global businesses to set up operations in the Kingdom.  

According to the Ministry of Investment, this is an increase of 1,261 visas compared to the same period in 2022, excluding permits issued under the “Tasattur” anti-concealment campaign.  

In the second quarter of 2023, the direct foreign investment balance in the Kingdom increased by 0.6 percent compared to the previous quarter, as shown in the ministry’s report for November 2023.  

Total fixed capital formation experienced a 7 percent increase in the second quarter of 2023 annually, attributed to growth in both government and non-government sectors by 3.5 percent and 7.6 percent, respectively, during the same period. 

The report also revealed that the capital of newly licensed factories in 2023 grew by 215 percent in the second quarter due to efforts to enhance industrial competitiveness, boost local content value, and support locally manufactured products.  

Meanwhile, foreign trade experienced a 3.1 percent decline in the third quarter of 2023 annually, leading to a 55.4 percent decrease in the trade balance during the same period. This was mainly a result of a 31.8 percent decrease in total exports.  

The data also indicated that government revenues reached approximately SR258.5 billion ($68.93 billion) in the third quarter of 2023, marking a 14.4 percent decrease on an annual basis, while government expenses totaled around SR294.3 billion in the third quarter, representing a 2.3 percent increase on an annual basis. 

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