No doubt the outbreak of coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) has shaken the world, and inflicted damage on the world’s economy. It is probably the most damaging time since the Great Depression.
In Saudi Arabia like anywhere else in the world, regulators, government sectors, courts, schools, and business were closed due to the pandemic.
However; some regulators in Saudi Arabia were able to work remotely and offer online services. What really got our attention during the pandemic was the Ministry of Investment of Saudi Arabia.
The Ministry of Investment (MISA) of Saudi Arabia, was one of the few regulators that really wasn’t affected by the pandemic and the reason why is that because they have established a solid online service site years’ back. Investors were able to get services done online without the need to visit MISA.
MISA’s online service site was established around 2011 in Saudi Arabia and it was one of the first regulators to offer a full online service.
On MISA’s site, an investor can pretty much do almost everything they can think of and this was available before the pandemic, so with the pandemic nothing changed. The services, the speed, the customer services, the trouble shooting, the competence and confidence of the employees remained the same, as good as it was. The pandemic could not shake this regulator.
So, were their challenges for investors during the pandemic? The answer is not much. As an investor, you can apply for a license, amend a license, issue a license, cancel a license, have your articles of association reviewed, and so many other services that can all be done online via the MISA’s site and achieved within hours or days. As a law firm in Saudi Arabia, we find MISA’s site user-friendly and easy to navigate.
What differentiate MISA from other regulators in Saudi Arabia is that they are connected to other regulators, offering a one stop shop for investors. They have an online investment manual which is 150 pages, offering most of the services listed in the manual online.
In 2019, MISA launched two important initiatives, Tayseer and Miras. Tayseer is aimed to secure the business environment for private companies. Meras is a Saudi Business Center aiming to facilitate procedures and to provide services for conducting business. It also provides all government and private sector services that is needed to start your business.
Finally, MISA wanted to provided extra care for investors during the pandemic, so they launched an initiative called the Response Center to overcome the challenges that the investors might face due to the pandemic, as well as facilitating their business. The Response Center provided 3 main products for investors on their website:
Business Continuity Guidebook: The guidebook contains useful information about business environment in KSA during the pandemic.
FAQ: This list contains the FAQs that MISA receives from different channels and the answers to these questions. This list is updated on a daily base.
Incentives: keeping investors up to date with all the incentives announced by other entities.
In conclusion, we noticed that around the world the sectors that invested in technology years ago, are the ones that were able to survive during the pandemic and MISA was one of those regulators that invested in technology, by providing online services to its customers.