14 duty-free shops at different airports in the cards


Saudi Gazette report

RIYADH — There will be 14 duty-free shops in Saudi airports once they change into international facilities from regional ones, business daily Al-Eqtisadiah reported on Monday quoting an informed source at the General Authority of Civil Aviation (GACA).

The source did not fix a date for turning the Kingdom’s regional airports into international facilities but said once this happens, the duty-free shops will be offered to the investors. He said at present, there are four duty-free shops in King Khaled International Airport (KKIA) in Riyadh, King Abdulaziz International Airport (KAIA) in Jeddah, King Fahd International Airport (KFIA) in Dammam and Prince Muhammad Bin Abdul Aziz International Airport in Madinah.

The source, who was not identified, said the turning of the regional airports into international ones will be gradual and will start with the airports of Hail and Taif.

He said the changing of the regional airports into international facilities will depend on the airport successfully passing the requirements for the change.

The duty-free shops were first introduced in the Kingdom in 2007 and were known as the free-trade zones which were exempted from custom duties and taxes.

Spokesman of the Saudi customs department Issa Al-Issa said the department is monitoring the shops to make sure that their goods do not go out to the local markets.

“We register all the goods in these shops and electronically record their sales so as to prevent them from going out because they are exempted from the custom duties and taxes,” he said.

Al-Issa said all the imported goods are subject to custom charges except the items sold at the duty-free shops.

“We do not collect custom charges or taxes from the duty-free shops so as to encourage them to grow and to enable the Saudi traders to sell their goods to the travelers,” he said.

The spokesman, however, said the department did not register a single case of the goods at the duty-free shops making their way out to the local markets.

Abdullah Baashan, an economic analyst, said the duty-free shops are a brilliant marketing idea as they will attract shoppers due to their comparatively cheap prices. “These shops have also become entertainment attractions to the travelers because of their restaurants and other services,” he said.

Baashan said the duty-free shops positively contribute to the economic movement as they boost sales and productivity.