Basic Facts about Saudi Arabia
27,163,977 sq km
Southwestern corner of Asia, occupies most of the Arabian Peninsula.
Hot Desert Climate except in Asir Province. Coastal cities subject to high humidity.
Mostly sandy desert, no rivers or permanent bodies of water. Highest peak 3,133 meters.
Riyadh: capital of Saudi Arabia
Jeddah: main seaport and business city in western region
Dammam: main seaport and business city in eastern region
Makkah and Madinah: Islamic holy cities
Riyadh's King Khalid International: 35 km from Riyadh, with hotel, buffet, bank, post office, shops and car hire.
Jeddah's King Abdul Aziz International: 18 km north of Jeddah, with hotel, restaurants, bank, post office, shops, car hire and special pilgrimage facilities.
Dammam's King Fahd International: 50 km northwest of Dammam, with ultra modern facilities including mosque, cargo terminal, restaurant and duty free shop.
Dammam: containers, grain, terminal, ro-ro
Jeddah: bulk cement and grain facilities, containers, ro-ro tankers
Jubail: containers, dry and liquid bulk, tankers
Yanbu: bulk cement, containers
Riyadh: containers dry dock; linked to Dammam by railroad.
GMT + 3 hours
IST (-2.5 hours)
28,534,504 (2012 est.)
(Source: CIA- The World Factbook: www.cia.gov)
Annual Growth Rate
1.523 % (2011 est.)
(Source: CIA World- Factbook: www.cia.gov)
Males 72.37 years; Females 76.42 years (2011 est.)
(Source: CIA world factbook)
Infant Mortality Rate
15.61/1000 live births (2011 est.)
82% of total population (2010 est.)
0-14 years: 29.4% (male 3,939,377/female 3,754,020)
15-64 years: 67.6% (male 9,980,253/female 7,685,328)
65 years and over: 3% (male 404,269/female 368,456) (2011 est.)
(Source: CII world- factbook)
(Source: CII World- Factbook)
GDP (purchasing power parity) (US$ bn)
$676.7 billion (2011 est.)
GDP Growth Rate
7.1% (2011 est.)
(source: www.sama.gov.sa )
GDP per Capita (US$)
24,000.00 (2011 est.)
(source: CIA World Factbook)
Cost of Living(change%)
5.1% (May 2012)
Exports US $ 350.7 billion (2011 est.)
(Source: CIA World Factbook)
Imports US$ 106.5 billion (2011 est.)
(Source: CIA World Factbook)
Working Hours and Holidays
Saturday to Wednesday is the working week.
Thursday and Friday are the usual weekly holidays, although most shops remain open on these days.
0830 - 1200, 1630 - 1930 in Riyadh;
0900 - 1330, 1630 – 2000 in Jeddah;
0730 - 1200, 1430 - 1730 in Eastern Province
(Closed Thursday afternoon and Friday).
0730 - 1430 (closed Thu, Fri);
0930 - 1430 during Ramadan.
Offices close four times a day for prayer for up to half an hour.
(Sat-Wed) 0800/0830 - 1200, 1600/1630 - 1900/1930
1000 -1330 during Ramadan.
0800/0830 - 1200, 1600 - 2100/2200;
Closed four times a day for prayer for up to half an hour.
Public Sector: All day Thursday and Friday.
Private Sector: Thursday afternoon and all day Friday.
Only two official public holidays are observed each year according to the Islamic calender:
Eid al Fitr : 25th Ramadan – 5thShawal
Eid al Adha : 5th – 15th Thul-Hijja
All Visitors to Saudi Arabia are required to obtain entry visa from Saudi embassies abroad prior to arrival.
Passports are required and must be valid for at least a period of six month beyond the proposed stay.
A letter of invitation must accompany visa application from a Saudi sponsor, a visa number and a no objection certificate and fees.
Visa application must be accompanied by a copy of the signed contract, a letter from the Saudi employer certified by the Saudi Chamber of Commerce indicating the employment block number and date. In addition, the following is also required:
A certified and notarized copy of the applicant’s university degree, and an official transcript or a certified and notarized copy of the diploma.
A letter of release if the applicant has previously worked in Saudi Arabia.
A police clearance report.
An Embassy medical form, filled out completely and submitted with three photographs.
The issue of granting multiple entry visas valid for six months to businessmen when they submit a letter from the concerned Chamber of Commerce or its equivalent Export promotion Council in the country of the applicant was discussed and it was agreed that such a system could be established by both countries in the Agreed Minutes of the 9th Indo-Saudi Joint Commission Meeting for Technical & Economic Cooperation (JCM) held in New Delhi (Jan 4-5, 2012).
Saudi Arabia is a country with immense trade and investment potential for the Indian businessmen. It pursues a liberal trade policy based on the concept of Free Trade. Imports and wholesale and retail are in the hands of the Saudi private sector. No price or quantity restrictions apply to importers except for alcoholic beverages and pork products, which are not allowed to be imported. However, it should be noted that the Saudi market is highly competitive and business transactions can take place only on the basis of quality, cost and punctuality in delivery.
Important Regulations for Exports
Only Saudi nationals and companies 100% owned by them may import goods to the Kingdom. Importers are required to be licensed by the Ministry of Commerce and should consult appropriate Ministry about goods or materials to be imported (for example, the Ministry of Agriculture and Water for agricultural products and Ministry of Health for medicines).
Goods can be exported unless they are antiques, regional horses, livestock or subsidised goods and materials, such as food products. Depending on their products, exporters need an industrial or agricultural license, or both.
Most of the consumer products are duty free, e.g., rice, tea, un-roasted coffee, cardamom, barley, corn, livestock and meat (fresh or frozen), etc.
Customs duties imposed on some commodities for the purpose of the protection of Saudi industries are 20%.
Import duty on other items is 5% ad valorem on the c.i.f (cost, insurance and freight) value.
A limited number of items are subject to customs duties calculated on the basis of metric weight or capacity, rather than ad valorem. However, the rates for these items are fairly low.
Detailed information about Custom duties can be obtained from www.customs.gov.sa
Members of the Arab League who are signatories to the Agreement to Facilitate Trade and Exchange and to organize Transit between the Arab League States are granted special concessions. Imports from the Arab states with which Saudi Arabia has bilateral trade agreements are entitled to further reductions of duty.
Customs duty is calculated on the CIF value of imports, which is converted to Saudi riyals at the exchange rates published by SAMA applicable on the date of the declaration. Customs duty is payable in cash or by a certified cheque drawn on a local bank.
To encourage local production, the Government grants tariff protection from competing imports to locally produced, quality goods. Rates can be as high as 20%.
The documents required for all commercial shipments to the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, irrespective of value or mode of transportation, are:
certificate of origin;
bill of lading (or airway bill);
steamship (airlines) company certificate;
insurance certificate (if goods are insured by the exporter);
Depending on the nature of goods being shipped, or upon certain requests from the Saudi importer or clauses in a contractual document, specific certificates may also be required.
Legalisation of Documents
It is important to note that authentication of these documents is the responsibility of the exporter, who must see that they are certified in the following specified order.
All documents must be:
Notarised by a Notary Public.
Sealed and certified by a local Host Country Chamber of Commerce.
Legalized by one of the Embassies/ Consulates General of Saudi Arabia.
The Saudi Arabian Embassy or Consulate will legalize the respective documents for a specified charge per document/page (original or copy).
Each document should be prepared in an original and a copy. The Chamber/ Embassy/Consulate will retain the copy. The original copy is legalized and returned. All documents (original or copy) should bear the hand written signature of the person issuing the document. Facsimile signatures are not accepted. All documents sent in by mail must enclose a self addressed stamped envelope.
(For further information on customs tariff, import procedures and regulations etc pertaining to Saudi Arabia please visit:
Doing Business with KSA
Basic Facts about Saudi Arabia