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16. Saudi Arabia
2009 rank: #16
2008 rank: #24

Recent reforms in Saudi Arabia brought it up seven places from 24th position in last year's overall ranking.

Starting a business got a whole lot cheaper after fees were reduced by 80%; a new computerized system made registering property title deeds twice as fast, taking two days rather than four; and the country's port fees were halved, making importing and exporting relatively cheap, at less than $700 per container.

Taxes, meanwhile, are relatively low at 14.55% of profits, and demand less than 80 hours of paperwork time a year.

Less favorable to small business owners are Saudi Arabia's regulations for contract enforcement. Commercial disputes can take 635 days to resolve, and don't come cheap, with resolutions typically costing 27.5% of the claim. A rigid employment law, which mandates about 80 weeks of salary in penalties, notice and severance pay for terminated workers, may also create an obstacle to entrepreneurs.

NEXT: 17. Sweden

Source: All data comes from "Doing Business 2009," a publication of the World Bank and the International Finance Corporation. Detailed methodological information is available at www.doingbusiness.org.
LAST UPDATE: Sep 11 2008 | 1:18 PM ET
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