Dubai: Saudi Arabia on Thursday said it will grant Saudi citizenship to highly talented and innovative expatriate residents, in a major shift for the kingdom as it tries to end dependence on oil.
King Salman bin Abdul Aziz issued a royal decree about granting citizenship to highly talented, qualified and innovative expatriate in the Kingdom, state press agency SPA said.
The royal order allows expatriates with specilised skills in the legal, medical, scientific, technological, cultural and sport fields to obtain Saudi citizenship. The move is aimed at driving development forward and diversifying the economy.
The decision also aligns with the Saudi Vision 2030 that aims to enhance a business friendly environment that is attractive to qualified professionals. The move to grant citizenship is also part of economic and social reform plans by Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman. It will enable scientists, intellectuals and innovators from around the world to make the kingdom a hub for brilliant minds.
The new system would allow experts and investors to establish deeper roots in the country.
Citizenship is difficult to obtain in the Gulf as it is not traditionally offered to foreigners and expatriates.
In December 2019, the Kingdom announced it was planning to grant citizenship to distinguished professionals.
Announced in 2016 by the Crown Prince, Vision 2030 is an ambitious scheme that intends to completely reshape the kingdom’s economy into one that is self-sufficient, developed and diversified, and become a global investment powerhouse.
In 2019, Saudi Arabia opened its doors to foreign tourists for the first time as part of the Vision 2030, in which expanding the kingdom’s tourism sector is a crucial aspect of the programme.