By Saudi Arabian Airlines, via Wikimedia Commons.  Accessed 13.10.17


In Saudi Arabia, privatisation is the name of the commercial game. Power players pulling the strings in Riyadh are launching a widespread campaign to transfer various state-owned assets into the private sector. Although this strategy serves to benefit the Saudi government’s macroeconomic standing, space is invariably opening up to allow foreign investors a slice of the pie. Nowhere is this truest than in the aviation sector, where a swathe of deals has been inked in 2017, with signs of more to come in 2018.

Impact Points

  • To date, the energy sector has dominated headlines related to Saudi’s privatisation program, thanks in large part to Aramco’s highly valued IPO touted for 2018. In reality, the case of Aramco is but one example of the broader commercial opportunities on the horizon.
  • Along with Saudi’s IT sector, the aviation industry is undergoing a program of gradual liberalisation, with indications that foreign investment is already beginning to blossom.
  • With 27 airports up for grabs, the government in Riyadh has already brought private actors into the sector through a handful of different schemes. A marked shift in foreign participation is now at play, with non-government (+ ‘non-preferred’) entities involved in various capacities with airports in Tai’if, Qassim, Yanbu, Riyadh, Mecca, and Medina.