Welcome to the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia. Doing business here is not for the faint-hearted. It’s hot work, with temperatures soaring as high as 54 degrees Celsius in summer. That said, there’s plenty of opportunity for New Zealand companies as the country diversifies its interests away from oil and gas.

Download our Saudi Arabia market guide on this page, it is full of information to get you prepared before you tackle this market.

Quick facts

Here's a snapshot - you can find more detailed data in our guide.

 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 180

1 Source - Statistics New Zealand, 12 months to June 2017
2 World Bank Ease of Doing Business 2018
3 Corruption Perceptions Index 2017

Getting to Saudi Arabia

There are no direct flights from New Zealand to Saudi Arabia. However, there are airlines that will take you there with one or two stops, these include Qatar Airways, Emirates and Etihad. The flight time with one stop is around 23 hours but it can take up to 43, depending on stopover times.

Getting visas for Saudi Arabia can be a timing consuming process and we recommend you start early and get in touch with the Saudi Arabia Consulate in Auckland for advice.

When to visit

It’s a good idea to familiarise yourself with Saudi Arabia’s national holidays as some businesses may close during these times. It’s definitely best to avoid Ramadan. July and August are also best avoided due to high heat and many locals being away on holiday. 

Before you go, check Safe Travel for travel advisories on Saudi Arabia.

Cultural tips 

As a country that operates under Sharia law (Muslim law), it’s important to get to grips with some of the implications of doing business in Saudi Arabia. Here are some tips to help you.

  • 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.
  • 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.
  • Modesty in dress, particularly for women, is expected. An abaya (the long black robe that most Saudi women wear) is obligatory in most parts of Saudi Arabia. Men should also dress modestly (no shorts or going bare chested in public).
  • The working week is from Sunday to Thursday with Friday being the Muslim holy day and Saturday being the second day of the weekend. 

Download our guide for more about doing business in Saudi Arabia.

Working in-market

Getting the most out of your visit means hitting the ground running. Co-working is an excellent option if you’re staying put for more than a few days. Facilities vary, but typically you can expect a desk, and access to wifi, printer / scanner, tea / coffee and a lounge area. Some facilities may offer extended perks such as parking and on-site cafes. If you’re visiting the market solo, it also means the chance to work in the company of other like-minded business people and freelancers. Co-working spaces can be searched by city on Nomad List

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 and possible areas of assistance. 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.

Saudi Arabia market guide

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  • I'm visiting my market. How can NZTE help me?

    If you’re an NZTE customer, please get in touch with your Customer Manager to discuss your plans and possible areas of assistance. If you don’t have a Customer Manager, contact our Advisor Team for more information.

  • I want to find an in-market distributor for my business
    NZTE doesn’t maintain lists of distributors for specific products and markets. We encourage companies to do as much of the initial search process as they can for themselves, while bringing in professional help where needed.

    You’ll find useful information on researching, finding and selecting the right distributor for you in our Export Essentials guide to understanding your channel partner options.
  • I want to find out about regulations and tariffs for export
    Regulations and tariffs should be one of the first things you find out before exporting. They often determine whether a market will be easy or hard for you to export to, or whether you should try to do business there at all.

    Understanding regulations in your export destination is a must-do. For an introduction to what you need to think about, see our guide on understanding international compliance requirements. This includes tips on how to research regulations, as well as insights on local regulations, standards, health and safety, and dealing with local bureaucracy.

    It’s a good idea to take a look at the rest of the international compliance process while you’re doing your work on regulations – see more information in our guide to understanding international compliance requirements.

    If you’re planning to export food or food-related products, you should also check out the food exporting page on the Ministry for Primary Industries (MPI) website. MPI maintains a list of Overseas Market Access Requirements (OMARs) for New Zealand food products in different export markets – search and identify OMARs for your product online

    Tariffs can make your products more expensive and less attractive to overseas buyers, so you need to know the charges your products will attract before you commit to a new market.

    You can get a big head start in finding tariff information by using the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade (MFAT) tariff finder or the World Trade Organisation’s tariff download facility. You can search the databases by product name, but they work best when you know the approximate Harmonised System (HS) code for your product. HS codes are used by customs authorities around the world to identify products and apply tariffs. The longer the code is, the more precisely it describes your product. The first six digits of an HS code are usually the same worldwide – after that, there can be up to eight further digits, which often vary from country to country.

    The  (NTAU) can help you to find out the first six digits of your HS codes – call +64 4 473 6099 or email

    To get a longer and more precise HS code for a particular market, look up and contact the local customs authority online, or talk to a customs broker or freight forwarder who has done business in that market.
  • I want to find out about packaging and labelling for export
    Packaging and labelling requirements can be very different from country to country, so get as much information as you can before making the decision to export. 

    Depending on where your products will be sold, you might need to use different materials or labels, and include different types of information. In some countries, you might have to translate all your packaging or labels into the local language – in others, applying a sticker with a few key details will do the job. 

    Make sure that you check out all of the requirements for packaging and labelling before tackling a new market, including anything that’s needed during transport or distribution. 

    You’ll find more details on the kind of things you need to think about in our guide to understanding international compliance requirements.

    We suggest that you work with a customs broker or freight forwarder, or get advice from a lawyer in-market, to understand all the requirements for your product and the place where it’s headed. The Customs Broker and Freight Forwarder Federation (CBAFF) has a list of customs brokers and freight forwarders within New Zealand.

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