Legal Market Overview
Vision 2030, an initiative set up by the Saudi government in 2016, has set out very ambitious plans to reduce the country’s reliance on its finite oil reserves and diversify into other sectors such as tourism, healthcare, education and infrastructure.
Tourism is a key area of growth. Traditionally the Islamic holy cities of Mecca and Medina were the key attraction for visitors to Saudi Arabia, but the government is looking to redevelop the country’s areas of historical importance as well as develop new areas along the Red Sea that incorporate recreation and adventure tourism. In September 2019, the country began offering visas for the first time to non-religious tourists. Restrictions have also been lifted in the entertainment sector, with high-profile musicians such as Mariah Carey and sport stars such as Anthony Joshua performing at events in the country.
Oil is still a fundamental part of the Saudi economy, with the state-run oil company Saudi Aramco valued at $1.7trn. The company’s public offering is still being considered and could lead to the world’s largest ever IPO.
A number of Magic Circle firms have an affiliated office in Riyadh, as do international players including Baker McKenzie, Dentons, Jones Day and Latham & Watkins. Hatem Abbas Ghazzawi & Co., which does not have an affiliation with an international firm, is a key local law firm.