Welcome to the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, the biggest country in the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) by population size, land area and GDP. While Saudi Arabia remains an oil-rich country, it is focused on diversifying its economy away from a reliance on oil and gas production.
Saudi Arabia’s affluent economy and plan to modernise the country, offers a wide variety of opportunities for New Zealand businesses.
To find out more about doing business in Saudi Arabia please download the Saudi Market Guide.
Here's a snapshot - you can find more detailed data in our guide.
|GDP per capita (PPP)||US$21,120|
|Export market ranking||NZ's 20th largest export market (20171)|
|Free trade agreements||None|
|Ease of Doing Business ranking2||92 of 190|
|Corruption Perceptions Index ranking3||57 of 176 (NZ ranked 1 of 176)|
|Value of NZ exports||NZ$507 Million|
|Land area||2,149,690 sq km|
Getting to Saudi Arabia
- In all cases expatriates require visas to enter Saudi Arabia.
- There are no direct flights from New Zealand to Saudi Arabia but there are multiple daily direct flights to other cities in the region, like Dubai and Abu Dhabi in the United Arab Emirates. From there it’s a 2-hour flight to Riyadh.
- There are plenty of international hotels in Saudi Arabia and NZTE has a list of recommended hotels.
When to visit
Take into your consideration the following:
- The summer months in Saudi Arabia are very hot – in July and August temperatures can reach 45+ degrees. A lot of people take summer holidays during this time.
- During Ramadan, also known as the Holy Month, working hours are usually reduced to 6 hours per day. It’s a month of reflection and spending time with family and friends so it can be hard to move forward with business matters.
- Here is a list of Saudi Arabia’s public holidays.
Before you go, it’s also worth checking Safe Travel for travel advisories on Saudi Arabia.
Arabic is the official language of Saudi Arabia, but English is widely spoken.
Religion & Beliefs
- Islam is practised by all Saudis and governs their personal, political, economic and legal lives.
- Friday is the Muslim holy day; so the working week is Sunday-Thursday.
- During Ramadan all Muslims fast from dawn to dusk. Expatriates must not eat, drink, or smoke in public during this period.
- There are five sets of prayers each day and all businesses are generally closed for 15 to 30 minutes during prayer time.
- Alcohol is illegal in Saudi Arabia. Under no circumstances attempt to enter with any alcohol on you. Pork / pig-related products are also illegal, so don’t bring any of these sorts of products with you.
Business & Work
- The Saudi working week is from Sunday through Thursday. (The official weekend is Friday and Saturday.)
- Appointments are necessary and should be made several weeks to one month in advance.
- Business meetings start slowly with initial questions and small talk. This is all part of the relationship and trust building process.
- Men and women do not mix freely in Saudi Arabia. As a general rule men do not approach or interact with women they do not know or they have not been introduced to.
- It’s important to dress well. For men this means business suits and women are obliged to wear abaya.
Connect with NZTE in Saudi Arabia
If you’re an NZTE customer and preparing to visit Saudi Arabia, please get in touch with your Customer Manager to discuss your plans. If you don’t have a Customer Manager, contact our Advisor Team for more information.
New Zealand's relationship with Saudi Arabia
If you're looking for more information about our trade and diplomatic relationship with Saudi Arabia, take a look at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade website. Their Saudi Arabia page is packed with information, including a list of embassies and details of recent official visits.