Saudi Arabia is a very relationship-intensive market. Many Saudi nationals have studied in the United States, and the personal relationships created in the process can lead to commercial relationships and valuable business connections. The government plays a very major role in the economy of Saudi Arabia, so it is important to be aware of the political connections of business contacts. All visitors to Saudi Arabia must have a Saudi sponsor in order to obtain a business visa to enter the country.
Saudi Arabia’s oil reserves are the second largest in the world, and the country is the world’s leading oil producer and exporter. The Saudi government is encouraging private sector growth to lessen the kingdom’s dependence on oil and increase employment opportunities for the swelling population. Diversification efforts are focusing on power generation, telecommunications, natural gas exploration and petrochemical sectors. The government is committed to resolving the shortage of low-cost housing, promising to add 500,000 units to existing stocks, and is also investing heavily in infrastructure, education and industry. Driven largely by high oil prices and expansionary public spending, Saudi Arabia’s economy has expanded even during the global slowdown of the past few years.