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Saudi Arabia licenses 44 companies to open regional headquarters in Riyadh

Saudi Arabia licenses 44 companies to open regional headquarters in Riyadh

10/27/2021 6:45:00 PM

Saudi Arabia licenses 44 companies to open regional headquarters in Riyadh

Saudi Arabia said on Wednesday it had licensed 44 international companies to set up regional headquarters in the capital Riyadh under the kingdom's push to become a regional commercial hub and vie for foreign capital and talent.

, Deloitte [RIC:RIC:DLTE.UL], PwC and Bechtel - rather than oversee operations remotely from the UAE's Dubai emirate.European law firm DWF Group said on Wednesday that Riyadh would become its regional headquarters for business services.Rasheed has said the move is not aimed at dismantling corporate operations elsewhere.

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read more"We are simply saying - you need to have your regional headquarter here because this is not simply a contract economy that you come in and come out. We want to see you with us for the long term," he told Reuters on Wednesday.UNCERTAINTIES LINGER

Rasheed defined regional headquarters as housing all major decision-making functions, but it was unclear how all firms themselves are defining Saudi headquarters.Some people in the business community say companies are unlikely to shut operations in the UAE and may simply shift some operations to Saudi.

read moreDanish wind turbine maker Vestas, not among the list of 44 firms, told Reuters in a statement that it was moving its Middle East sales headquarters from Dubai to Riyadh.Saudi Arabia has launched economic and social reforms aimed at making the kingdom an easier place to live and work in and has cut the red tape that long deterred companies.

However some attendees at the FII investment summit where Wednesday's announcement was made, and who were speaking on condition of anonymity due to sensitivities, cited continued uncertainty around regulations and taxes, as well as high operational costs and lack of a skilled local workforce.

One example was the kingdom's sudden move in May 2020 to triple its value-added tax rate. Issues around negotiating electricity tariffs would make it much harder for manufacturers to relocate than financial companies, some said.(This story refiles to correct day of week in par 10)

Reporting by Maher Chmaytelli in Dubai and Davide Barbuscia and Saeed Azhar in Riyadh; Writing by Lisa Barrington and Ghaida Ghantous; Editing by Alison Williams, Christian Schmollinger and Christina FincherOur Standards:More from ReutersSign up for our newsletter

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