Saudi Arabia, with its diverse landscapes and booming economy, offers enticing opportunities for investors and tourists alike. Recent social and economic reforms with advancements in women’s rights reflect the country’s commitment to modernization. Under the Vision 2030 agenda, Saudi Arabia is positioning itself as a hub for international business headquarters. Being Middle East’s largest country, the Kingdom has opened up its borders to attract millions of visitors with e-visas, helping to create jobs and drive local economic growth.

How are these progressive steps enhancing the country’s reputation and perception, instilling confidence in potential investors and visitors alike?

Let’s take a closer look at:

  • Saudi Arabia’s soft power and country brand strength
  • Its appeal to skilled labor, investors and visitors
  • The country’s global contribution to peace and wellbeing
  • How well it fares in terms of happiness and sustainability

Saudi Arabia’s soft power and brand strength

How does Saudi Arabia compare in terms of reputation and brand value globally? 

In the Global Soft Power Index 2024 by Brand Finance, Saudi Arabia ranks 18th, just behind Norway (17th) and Russia (16th). Saudi Arabia has climbed by one position since last year, and the score has risen from 51.3 in 2023 to 56.0 in 2024.

According to the U.S. News Best Countries 2023 ranking, Saudi Arabia secures the 31st position, behind India (30th) and Thailand (29th). Saudi Arabia especially excels in two key areas: movers (4th) assessing a country’s future growth; and power (9th), analysing the attributes of a country shaping global economic patterns. Saudi Arabia’s ranking improved by three positions when the country secured the 34th position in the overall ranking in 2022.

The Anholt-Ipsos Nation Brand Index (NBI) calculates its ranking based on averaging the scores of six different factors: exports, governance, tourism, culture, people and immigration, and tourism. According to the NBI 2023 ranking, Saudi Arabia came in the 54th position and experienced improvement from the 57th position in 2022.

Talent attraction and competitiveness in Saudi Arabia

How well is Saudi Arabia performing in attracting and retaining talent?

The World Economic Forum Global Competitiveness Index 2019 edition placed Saudi Arabia at 36th position among 141 countries. However, it’s important to note that an updated version of this report hasn’t been released in the past five years, and rankings may have shifted since then.

In the Global Talent Competitiveness Index 2023 ranking, Saudi Arabia holds the 48th position, just behind Costa Rica (47th). In this report, Saudi Arabia is classified as a high-income country within Northern Africa and Western Asia and is ranked 7th on a regional level. The country ranks best in the Attract pillar (39th), while the Retain pillar ranked 80th, which therefore represents a challenge for Saudi Arabia.

Regarding education excellence, according to the World University Rankings 2024, Saudi Arabia has no university within the top 100 overall scores. However, Alfaisal University (rank 51) has made it to the Times Higher Education Young University Rankings 2023, a list of the world’s best universities that are 50 years old or younger.

Saudi Arabia as a “good country”

What is Saudi Arabia’s contribution to global well-being?

In the Caf World Giving Index 2023, Saudi Arabia ranked in the 69th position, behind Costa Rica (70th) and Venezuela (71st). Saudi Arabia improved from the 85th position in 2022. The country is fairly good at helping a stranger (67%). However, only 16% of adults in the country volunteered.

In the Good Country Index, Saudi Arabia currently secured the 114th position overall. The country excels in the Health and Wellbeing factor (11th). Previously, Saudi Arabia ranked 121st in 2022 and 94th in 2021.

According to the Economist Intelligence Unit (EIU) Democracy Index 2023, Saudi Arabia ranked in the orange zone (2-3 range) with a 2.08 out of 10. This is lower than neighbouring Iraq (3.13) but higher than nearby Syria (1.43). 

In the 2022 Corruption Perception Index, Saudi Arabia comes 54th, tied with Malta and Rwanda. Saudi Arabia’s score has dropped by two since 2021. 

The Sustainable Development Report 2023 ranks Saudi Arabia 94th, scoring 67.7. The report highlights that Saudi Arabia faces major challenges in many of the 17 SDGs. However, the country is experiencing increasing positive changes in SDG 1 (No Poverty), SDG 6 (Clean Water and Sanitation), and SDG 17 (Partnerships for the Goals), although SDG 15 (Life on Land) and SDG 16 (Peace, Justice, and Strong Institutions) factors are experiencing a downward trend.

Saudi Arabia’s appeal to digital nomads, business, trade and travel 

What is the global perception of Saudi Arabia as a destination for living, conducting business, and tourism?

According to Expat Insider 2023, Saudi Arabia ranks 28th, right behind Canada (27th) and China (26th). Saudi Arabia performs quite well in Healthcare (12th), Salary and Job Security (7th), and Career Prospects (4th); however, the country ranks comparatively low in the ‘ease of settling in’ factors such as Culture and Welcome (36th) and Finding friends (34th).

As per the UNCTAD World Investment Report 2023, Saudi Arabia secured the 17th position for FDI outflows in 2022, trailing behind Belgium (16th) and the United Arab Emirates (15th). Saudi Arabia climbed by one position from the 2021 ranking.

The Bloom Consulting biannual Country Brand Ranking Trade Edition 2022-2023 assesses investment-related variables, emphasising perceptions of a country’s trade-specific brand and evaluating branding performance. In Asia, Saudi Arabia ranks 12th, climbing one position higher than in the previous report. Saudi Arabia stands behind Vietnam (11th) and Thailand (10th). Worldwide, Saudi Arabia ranks 35th.

In addition, in the Bloom Consulting Country Brand Ranking Tourism Edition 2022-2023 ranking, Saudi Arabia remains to secure the 17th position in Asia, behind Sri Lanka (16th) and Israel (15th). Saudi Arabia’s appeal lies in its rich history and culture, drawing interest globally.

In the IMD 2023 World Competitiveness Ranking, Saudi Arabia came in 17th position, improving from its 24th position in 2022 and 32nd position in 2021. Currently, Saudi Arabia stands right behind Iceland (16th) and Canada (15th), and surpassing the Czech Republic (18th) and Australia (19th).

Regarding specific characteristics, Saudi Arabia significantly improved its Economic performance factor, climbing from 48th place in 2021 to 6th position in 2023. Infrastructure is ranked 34th, Government Efficiency has a slight improvement from 19th in 2022 to 11th in 2023, and business efficiency climbed by three positions from 16th in 2022 to 13th in 2023.

Peace and happiness in Saudi Arabia

Is Saudi Arabia a happy and safe place to invest time and money in?

The Global Peace Index 2023 ranks Saudi Arabia 119th, climbing by five positions since last year’s index. All of these fall under the ‘’medium sector’’ of the ‘State of Peace’ spectrum as defined by the Institute for Economics & Peace. Within the region, Saudi Arabia ranks 10th, behind Bahrain (9th) and ahead of Egypt (11th). 

The Institute for Economics & Peace similarly ranks Saudi Arabia within the ‘very low impact zone’ in terms of ‘Impact of Terrorism’ in the 2024 Global Terrorism Index. Saudi Arabia ranks 60th, ahead of Argentina (61st) and behind the Central African Republic (59th).

Meanwhile, the World Happiness Report 2023, which displays the Ranking of Happiness based on a three-year-average 2020–2022, ranks Saudi Arabia 30th, dropping from 25th position in the 2022 report. The country is behind Slovakia (29th) and ahead of Estonia (31st).

Saudi Arabia’s environmental sustainability

How does Saudi Arabia perform in rankings measuring environmental sustainability?

The 2022 edition of the Environmental Performance Index (EPI) ranks Saudi Arabia 109th. Using the most recent data available, the EPI scores 180 countries on their environmental performance and provides calculable changes in scores over the past decade. Saudi Arabia has experienced a slight improvement by 9.50 over the last ten years.

Last updated in March 2024. More country profiles here.

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