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Saudi Arabia - Selling and buying

Contents extracted from the comprehensive atlas of international trade by Export Entreprises

Reaching the consumers

Marketing opportunities

Consumer behavior: Price is relatively important when making a purchasing decision. Generally, the Saudi Arabians like to compare before buying.
Saudis view a foreign firm’s physical presence in the Kingdom as a tangible sign of a long-term commitment and after-sales service has become an important element in developing customer loyalty. The consumer in the country has evolved, from a passive buyer who depended largely on opinions of others before purchasing a product, to a more active participant who wants the best.
Consumer profile: Saudi Arabian consumers are becoming more and more well-informed and sophisticated. They are not always loyal to brand names. Typical consumer is young and high-spending. The country has high per-capita income and a market-oriented economy.
Main advertising agencies:

    Distribution network

    Evolution of the sector:

    Saudi Arabia is the largest consumer market in the GGC countries, characterized with high disposable income. The large percentage of the population aged under 25 increases the demand for a wide range of consumer goods and products.

    Primarily there are three main commercially active regions in the Kingdom: the Western Region, with the city of Jeddah as the main commercial centre; the Central Region with the capital, Riyadh; and the Eastern Province, where the oil and gas industry is concentrated.

    Although there is no requirement for exclusive distributorships, Saudi Ministry of Commerce policy is that all such arrangements be exclusive with respect to either geographic region or product line. Many Saudi companies are active in numerous product lines.

    Market access procedures

    Economic Cooperation: Member of the Arab League.


    Member of the Cooperation Council for the Arab States of the Gulf . The country is also part of the Greater Arab Free Trade Area (GAFTA), a pact of the Arab League entered into force in January 2005 which aims to form an Arabic free trade area.

    Non tariff barriers:

    Only Saudi Arabian companies, 100% owned by Saudi Arabian are authorized to import. Importers should obtain a license from the Department of Trade and Industry and consult the appropriate Ministry according to the nature of the goods to be imported.

    The documentary regulation, required for the expedition of goods in Saudi Arabia is very strict: commercial invoice, certificate of origin, B/L (or airway bill), certificate of assurance (if CIF sale), SASO compliance certificate when applicable. These documents should be stamped by the following organizations: Chamber of Commerce and Industry of the exporter country, "bilateral" Chamber of Commerce, Consulate of Saudi Arabia from the exporter country.
    For fruits, vegetables and semen, a phytosanitary certificate is required. For meats, a sanitary certificate is required, and should be delivered by the veterinarian services of the exporter country, as well as a slaughter certificate according to the Islamic rites, which is delivered by the Competent Islamic Authority of the exporter country. These documents should be signed either by the "bilateral" Chamber of Commerce or by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.
    Any kind of business with Israel or with companies having commercial links with Israel is prohibited.

    Average Customs Duty (excluding agricultural products): 4.85%
    Customs classification: Saudi Arabia applies the Harmonized Customs System.
    Import procedures: Visit the website Saudi Arabia to consult all import procedures and regulations.

    Organizing goods transport

    Organizing goods transport to and from:

    Saudi Arabia has a well-developed transport infrastructure, which mainly includes airways, roadways and maritime transport.

    However because of the large distances that separate Saudi Arabia's main cities, air travel is the preferred method of travel within the Kingdom. There are three major, modern international airports in the Kingdom: King Khalid International Airport in Riyadh, King Abdulaziz International Airport in Jeddah, and King Fahd International Airport in the Eastern Province. A large number of international airlines operate from these airports. In addition, there are 22 regional and local airports. Taxis, rental cars, and limousines are all readily available at airports.

    Saudi Arabia also has an impressive and expanding network of highways which connect the country's major regions and cities. Driving is done on the right side of the road.

    There are seven modern major ports in the cities of Jeddah, Yanbu, Dammam, Jubail, Jizan, Rabigh, and Dhiba, some with their own separate commercial and industrial facilities. The Jeddah and Dammam ports are state-of-the-art commercial ports. The Yanbu and Jubail ports are state-of-the-art major industrial ports with modern bulk cargo and container handling capabilities. Ras Tanura, an oil super-terminal on the Gulf, is one of the largest in the world.

    Railway network in the Kingdom is not so well developed and is going through an expansion program.

    Sea transport organizations:
    Rail transport organizations:

    Domestic business directories

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