Foreign investors free to sit on Saudi business chamber boards

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Updated 04 December 2020

Foreign investors free to sit on Saudi business chamber boards

  • Council of Chambers to become the Chambers Association

LONDON: Foreign investors are to be allowed to sit as directors on the boards of Saudi chambers of commerce for the first time.

The move is aimed at boosting  competitiveness and business activity in the Kingdom, the Saudi Ministry of Commerce said in a statement.

The new system will also mean that more than one chamber of commerce can be established in the same region.

Reforms to the country’s business chambers come as part of a broader push to modernize the economy, slash bureaucracy, and create jobs for Saudis.

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New companies will be exempted from the chamber’s subscription fees for a period of three years starting from the date of commercial registration.

In addition to revoking the Saudi citizenship rule, companies joining business chambers will be exempt from paying subscription fees for three years. The reforms also scrap the requirement to take out a new subscription for additional company branches.

“This is an encouraging development for overseas investors looking to expand in the Kingdom,” said Ed O’Reilly, executive director of Dubai-based 4Front Consultants, a technology company with operations in Saudi Arabia.

Under the new plans, the old Council of Chambers will become the Chambers Association and the changes will also see the creation of a supervisory body to monitor performance, while allowing the holding of meetings and voting through electronic means.

Saudi Arabia carried out a record number of business reforms last year, according to the World Bank Group’s Doing Business 2020 report, helping to put the country into the top 10 of global business climate improvers.

The Kingdom made the greatest improvement in the area of starting a business — costing 5.4 percent of income per capita for an entrepreneur to set up, compared with the wider regional average of 16.7 percent.


Emirates stops flights to three major Australian cities

Updated 16 January 2021

Emirates stops flights to three major Australian cities

  • Flights to/from Sydney, Brisbane and Melbourne will be suspended until further notice: Emirates
  • The airline will still run two flights a week to Perth

DUBAI: Emirates has suspended flights to Australia's three largest cities as the country further restricts international arrivals over fears of new virus strains.
The Dubai-based carrier was one of the last to maintain routes into and out of the country's east coast throughout most of the pandemic but on Friday evening told travellers a handful of planned flights next week would be the last.
"Due to operational reasons, Emirates flights to/from Sydney, Brisbane and Melbourne will be suspended until further notice," Emirates said on its website.
The airline will still run two flights a week to Perth, but the cuts are another barrier for tens of thousands of stranded Australians still attempting to return home.
The Australian government responded by announcing more repatriation flights and said other carriers still flying services to the cities could fill the gap.
"The capacity that Emirates was able to use within the cap will be allocated to other airlines, ensuring that there are still as many tickets, as many seats available into Australia," Finance Minister Simon Birmingham said.
A small number of airlines - including Qatar Airways and Singapore Airlines - are still running services to Australia but local media were already reporting delays and cancellations among returning travellers.
Australia's borders have effectively been closed since March to curb the spread of the virus, with the government even limiting the number of citizens allowed to return.
Last week travel restrictions were further tightened, with arrival numbers slashed and all travellers into the country requiring a negative Covid-19 test before flying.
In making the changes, Prime Minister Scott Morrison cited a growing number of people in quarantine testing positive for new strains of Covid-19.
Fears that a variant of the virus from Britain, believed to be more contagious, had leaked into Brisbane from hotel quarantine triggered a snap lockdown in the city last week.
"There are many unknowns and uncertainties in relation to the new strain, and so that's why this precautionary approach, we believe, is very sensible," Morrison said.
Australia continues to deal relatively well with the virus, having recorded about 28,600 cases and 909 deaths linked to Covid-19 in a population of 25 million.