New residency permit to support investment in Saudi Arabia

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Eng. Ibrahim Al Omar, governor of the Saudi Arabian General Investment Authority (SAGIA)

RIYADH —Saudi Arabia’s Council of Ministers has approved the creation of a residency permit scheme for qualified international expatriates. This move is expected to support the attraction of leading global entrepreneurs, innovators and investors.

Commenting on the announcement of the Council of Ministers, who approved the Special Privilege Iqama Law that provides qualified foreigners a number of residency benefits on Tuesday, Eng. Ibrahim Al Omar, governor of the Saudi Arabian General Investment Authority (SAGIA), said: “Our aim is to attract innovators from across the world to live and work in Saudi Arabia — and this reform will play a significant role in doing so. These investors and entrepreneurs will help to drive private sector growth, which is needed to realize the ambitious goals set out in Saudi Vision 2030.”

The residency permit will enable expatriates in Saudi Arabia to gain access to a range of additional privileges alongside their residency, including allocating visas for their families and enabling them to own real estate in the Kingdom. There will be two separate forms of the program, one acting as a permanent residence permit, and one which is renewable on an annual basis.

Al Omar continued: “It is important that stakeholders understand that Saudi Arabia offers significant long-term opportunities. We want to attract people who will build a foundation and a network in Saudi Arabia, and who will play a role in the future development of the Saudi economy and benefit from the growth opportunities it presents. We believe that this reform will make a real difference.”

This new scheme will encourage and enable people across the globe to choose Saudi Arabia as a long-term destination to invest, work and build their lives. This move follows the lifting of foreign ownership restrictions in many sectors, giving investors the chance to access previously untapped opportunities in a large and growing G20 economy.

This past year, SAGIA also launched a specialized Entrepreneur License, which allows international entrepreneurs to launch a fully foreign-owned start-up company in Saudi Arabia. These recent reforms have led to a 70% spike in the number of new foreign business licenses issued by SAGIA in Q1 2019, when compared to the same period last year.

The launch of this program also follows the introduction of specialized visas for events such as Formula E motor races, the Winter at Tantora Festival in Al Ula and the Saudi International Golf Tournament. There are also plans to introduce the Kingdom’s first tourism visa, which will play a significant role to enhance Saudi Arabia’s global profile as a leading travel destination.

Saudi Arabia is undergoing a series of social and economic reforms that aim at realizing the Kingdom’s economic potential under Vision 2030. Following these initiatives, the World Bank ranked Saudi Arabia as the 4th largest reformer within the G20 and noted improvement across four key pillars in its latest Doing Business report. — SG


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