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.

Quick facts

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

GDP US$683.8 Billion
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
Population 33 million
Land area 2,149,690 sq km

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

  • 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.

Cultural tips


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.

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.

    New Zealand Customs can help you to find out the first six digits of your HS codes – 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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