CMA Further Expands Foreign Investors Access to Saudi Capital Market

​Saudi Arabia's Capital Market Authority (CMA) issued today the amended Rules governing the Kingdom's Qualified Foreign Investor (QFI) framework (''Rules'') that will ease the qualification requirements for qualified foreign investors, their affiliates, foreign portfolio managers  and their managed funds, and expand the range of institutional investors eligible under this framework.

Key changes to the existing Rules include:

  • Eliminating the requirement for the CMA's review and approval of the QFIs' qualification.
  • Lowering the assets under management or custody (AUM) requirement for QFIs from $1billion to $500 million.
  • Qualifying the affiliates of QFIs or foreign portfolio managers and their managed funds without the need to submit separate applications.
  • Easing some of the continuous obligations requirements on QFIs. 


The amended Rules, are effective as of 23 January 2018.


“The goal of these enhancements to the QFI program is to streamline investor qualification and make it part of the account opening process rather than a separate approval process" said H.E. Mohammed ElKuwaiz, Chairman of the CMA. “These changes will broaden access to more financial institutions around the world and further streamline and accelerate the process of investing in the Saudi capital market."


The QFI program was introduced in June 2015, amended in 2016, and further updated with the amendments announced today. As of the end of 2017, 118 foreign financial institutions registered as QFIs. The amended QFI rules can be found on the CMA website:

The Amended Rules for Qualified Foreign Financial Institutions Investment in Listed Securities

 “Capital market reform is the linchpin to unlocking the potential of the Saudi economy and this update to the QFI program is just the latest in series of measures and reforms implemented to expand access, increase efficiency, enhance transparency and strengthen governance," Mr. El-Kuwaiz added.

Other key capital market reforms implemented by CMA in 2017 include:

  • Introduction of Nomu, the Parallel Market for Qualified Investors.
  • Amending the settlement of securities cycle to be T+2.
  • Enabling Securities Borrowing and Lending "SBL" and Short Selling.
  • Adoption of the updated Corporate Governance Rules.
  • Adoption of International Financial Reporting Standards (IFRS) for listed companies on the Saudi Stock Exchange.
  • Enabling foreign institutional participation in the Saudi domestic IPOs.
  • Adoption of the updated Regulations governing Mergers and Acquisitions.