Saudi Arabia has a modern banking industry with 13 commercial banks. Saudi banks provide retail and corporate banking, investment services, brokerage facilities, and derivative transactions in addition to credit cards, ATMs and point-of-sale transactions.
There are also banks in the Kingdom that provide Islamic banking services. Islamic banking is a system of banking that is consistent with the principles of Islamic law (Shari’ah). It prohibits usury, the collection and payment of interest and trading in financial risk.
Saudi Arabia also has a thriving stock market. The total value of shares traded annually is some SR 60 billion [US $16 billion]. The Tadawul All-Share Index (TASI) of the Saudi stock market is one of the most highly capitalized stock exchanges in the Arab world. TASI was also one of the first exchanges globally to set up a full electronic clearing and settlement system with immediate transfer of ownership.
The banking and finance sector is overseen by several government agencies. The Ministry of Finance supervises economic policies. The Saudi Arabian Monetary Association (SAMA) manages fiscal policy, issues the country’s currency, the Saudi Riyal and oversees the nation’s commercial banks.
The government has also established five specialized credit institutions to provide loans to citizens for development projects in agriculture, industry and construction – the Saudi Industrial Development Fund (SIDF), the Saudi Arabian Agricultural Bank (SAAB), the Real Estate Development Fund, the Public Investment Fund and the Saudi Credit Bank.