Saudi Arabia is now officially opening up more of its vital industries and sectors to full foreign investment.
A few weeks after the kingdom decided to allow 100 percent foreign ownership in Saudi Arabia's engineering sector, the country will now do the same for health and education sectors, Gulf News reported on Thursday.
In a statement on the matter, Ebrahim Al Omar, governor of the Saudi Arabian General Investment Authority (SAGIA) explained that full ownership in both sectors "is something new for Saudi."
“We are opening up education centers to have ownership 100 percent, all types of education even from primary school," he said.
In the health sector, the ministry will “just be a regulator and not a service provider anymore," he added.
According to Al Omar, the latest move will open up investment opportunities worth up to $180 billion over the next five years.
Al Omar didn't specify when the new decisions would go into effect.
These developments aim to welcome more foreign investors into the country and encourage them to invest in its economy.
Two of the kingdom's most vital sectors
Specific details on the shift to foreign investment in both health and education sectors are yet to be announced.
However, according to Gulf News, when it comes to the health sector "the government is studying whether to sell off all public hospitals and 200,000 pharmacies."
As for the education sector, the country's Ministry of Education "has hired HSBC as [a] financial adviser for its plans to privatize construction and management of school buildings."
The kingdom has recently been opening up to foreign investments
In the past few years, Sagia's Chairman, Majid Al-Qasabi, has been pushing for a more flexible approach to foreign investment.
Other officials and entities in the country have been doing the same under its Vision 2030 - an ambitious blueprint which aims to diversify the country's economy and reduce its reliance on the domestic oil industry.
Greater foreign investment is seen as an essential part of the vision.
According to Arab News, in recent years, other sectors including "retail and wholesale distribution, were taken off the 'negative list' Sagia maintains for sectors not deemed appropriate for exclusive foreign ownership — like military and other security activities, some aspects for Islamic tourism, media, telecommunications and a few others."