Cairo: Saudi Arabia’s General Directorate of Passports has launched new electronic services for expatriates as part of the kingdom’s digital transformation.
Available on the Interior Ministry’s Absher and Muqeem portals, the latest services include reporting about the loss or theft of passport or a residency permit, visitor’s digital document, amending the translated name, visa information and employers' notices.
Addressing a launch ceremony in Riyadh, chief of the Saudi General Directorate of Passports Lt. Gen. Suleiman Al Yehia said the latest services are aimed to save time and efforts, provide smart solutions, and upgrade services for the beneficiaries.
Saudi Arabia, a country of around 32.2 million people, is home to a large community of foreign workers.
Foreigners make up around 13.4 million or 41.5 per cent of the kingdom’s overall population, according to a recent census.
Saudi authorities have recently introduced a set of facilities for expatriates.
Foreign residents leaving on exit/re-entry visas can now return to Saudi Arabia until the last day of their valid visas.
The General Directorate of Passports in August said exit/re-entry visa holders can also have their visas extended electronically while they are outside Saudi Arabia after paying related fees via Absher or Muqeem.
The authorities pointed out that the expatriate’s passport should be valid at least 90 days for issuing the exit/re-entry, and 60 days for issuing the final exit visa.
In recent years, the kingdom has vigorously shifted to digitalisation, a trend expedited by the restrictions prompted by the global COVID-19 epidemic.
In 2013, the Saudi Interior Ministry launched the Absher app, which gives Saudi citizens and foreign residents access to a variety of government services.
The scope of the services has since largely expanded, including applying for jobs and renewing passports, residency cards and driving licences.