Listed foreign companies can now buy land in Mecca, Medina

Dubai: Saudi Arabia has allowed companies listed on the Saudi Stock Exchange (Tadawul) to buy real estate in Mecca and Medina, local media reported.

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According to the amended Article 5 of the Law of Real Estate Ownership and Investment by non-Saudis, a non-Saudi investor with a natural or corporate personality licenced to practice any professional, vocational, or economic activity may acquire the real estate necessary for practicing the activity in Mecca and Medina.

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It is also stipulated that such real estate should be invested within five years from its acquirement.

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Prior to the new amendment, foreign ownership was forbidden in Mecca and Medina, except through inheritance. Although GCC nationals and companies had certain rights to own land, subject to a number of restrictions where they may lease or purchase land to use it to conduct any licenced business activity from the land, and may own residential properties in Saudi Arabia, properties in Mecca and Medina were excluded.

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Foreigners were also restricted from acquiring any right to real estate within the borders of the cities of Mecca and Medina. There were also ownership restrictions whereby other resolutions of the Saudi Council of Ministers, and royal decisions, expressly prohibited the acquisition of real estate in specified locations.

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The new amendment has been recently approved by the Saudi Cabinet following a recommendation by the Council of Economic and Development Affairs and the General Committee for the Council of Ministers and a decision of the Shoura Council.

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