Privileged iqama: A welcome move

Decision to enhance the economy’s competitiveness: Qasabi

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Saudi Gazette

Jeddah —
The privileged iqama (residence permit) scheme approved by the Council of Ministers on Tuesday will attract investors, enhance the economy’s competitiveness and curb cover-up businesses (tasattur), Minister of Commerce and Investment Majid Al-Qasabi said.

He said that there has been a 46% increase in cases of tasattur in the first quarter of 2019.

“The new law will enable expatriates to engage in various commercial activities and make investments in a legal way,” he added.

The new iqama scheme, also referred to as the Green Card system, allows expats to invest in Saudi Arabia without the need for a kafeel (local sponsor) and offers special privileges including allowing eligible expats to live for a longer period in the Kingdom.

The government will detail the program’s rules within 90 days.

Chairman of Lulu Group Yusuffali M.A. called it a landmark decision that is sure to make the Kingdom a global financial and economic hub and will help to bring in huge investments from all over the world.

“This will create countless opportunities for foreign businesses and especially those expats who have lived here most of their lives working for the Saudi economy,” said Dr. Ayesha Murad, a retired doctor from England living in Jubail.

Economist Khaled Al-Dhubay’i said the privileged iqama scheme will help attract at least SR100 billion worth of investments.

“I’ve spent 40 years in the Kingdom and finally have the opportunity to invest and establish a business here. We welcome the vision of Crown Prince Muhammad Bin Salman and look forward to accomplishing our goals together,” Shaji Nihal, an Indian senior travel expert in the Kingdom told Saudi Gazette.

Social media was also flooded posts welcoming the move.

“We will for the first time also get the same basic rights like buying real estate and obtain visas for relatives among others,” Rami Asad, a Lebanese marketing officer in Riyadh told Saudi Gazette.

“It was something we had always wanted and it is finally happening,” Awais Misri, a Pakistani national and CEO at Ramsons Trading Co. Ltd said.

Expatriates eligible for the special residency program must be over 21 years of age, have a valid passport, enough financial resources, a clear health report and no criminal record. They will have the option to choose between a permanent and temporary residence permit.


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