SAUDI ARABIA APPROVES CREATION OF RESIDENCY BY INVESTMENT PROGRAM
When you think of Saudi Arabia, you may first only think of its connection to oil. However, under Saudi Arabia’s “Vision 2030” program, as announced in year 2016, the country is presenting a different “vision” to the world, with three “pillars”, as follows:
“The first pillar of our vision is our status as the heart of the Arab and Islamic worlds. . . . The second pillar of our vision is our determination to become a global investment powerhouse. Our nation holds strong investment capabilities, which we will harness to stimulate our economy and diversify our revenues. The third pillar is transforming our unique strategic location into a global hub connecting three continents, Asia, Europe and Africa. Our geographic position between key global waterways, makes the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia an epicenter of trade and the gateway to the world.”
One feature of Saudi Arabia’s “Vision 2030” program is the announcement on May 15 that Saudi Arabia’s Council of Ministers had approved the creation of a residency by investment program for foreigners to live in Saudi Arabia.
Commenting on the new residency by investment program, Ibrahim Al Omar, Governor of the Saudi Arabian General Investment Authority, 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 the private sector growth, which is needed to realize the ambitious goals set out in Saudi Vision 2030. . . . 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”.
While the specifics of Saudi Arabia’s residency by investment program were not immediately officially announced, a May 17 article in the “Saudi Gazette”, citing “well-informed sources”, stated, “The fee for permanent Special Privilege Iqama will be SR[Saudi riyal]800,000 ($213,333) for one time while the one-year temporary iqama will cost SR100,000 ($26,666) . . . [T]he Special Privilege Iqama will provide an opportunity to all those who have ties with the Kingdom, irrespective of their nationality, to obtain a permanent or temporary residency that would provide them with many privileges as well as the chance to avail of specific services for themselves and their families. . . . A Special Privilege Iqama Center is being constituted as the sole competent body to regulate and manage everything related to the new iqama. The center will complete preparing the Executive Regulations of the law within 90 days, paving the way for issuance of the special iqama. The center, which enjoys financial and administrative independence, will announce all the details related to the Executive Regulations, and the mechanism of submitting applications and other relevant matters. The new law allows expatriates, who are holders of this iqama, to enjoy several privileges hitherto allowed only to the citizens. These include owning real estate, renting out of properties, educational and health services and other utilities specified in the Executive Regulations”.
An iqama in Saudi Arabia is the equivalent of a residence permit.