Amr Al Dabbagh, governor of the Saudi Arabia General Investment Agency, told the Financial Times that new regulatory and procedural reforms announced in January are intended to reduce the time and capital needed to start a business. Mr Al Dabbagh said that promoting foreign investment in petrochemicals, aluminium, steel and fertilisers will be the main focus of the agency this year.

While World Bank research ranked Saudi Arabia as the 16th easiest country to do business last year, it also noted delays in enforcing contracts and commercial legal procedures as obstacles there.

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Saudi Arabia, the world’s top oil exporter and the Middle East’s biggest economy, has embarked on a series of economic reforms in recent years to curb unemployment and diversify its economy, which has benefited from a windfall in petrodollars.