Riyadh: Saudi Arabia’s Shura Council, a quasi-parliament, has approved a plan for introducing a Green Card-style residence system for foreigners aimed at attracting investors, Saudi media reported on Thursday.
The “privileged iqama” system, offered for specific fees, ensures eligible residents a set of advantages including rights to recruit workers, own property and means of transportation as well as leaving and return to the kingdom without the need for permission from a sponsor as is the case now.
Holders of this type of iqama will also have a family status and be entitled to use the processing service designated for Saudis at airports.
The new system has two categories: permanent and temporary.
Eligible residents should have a valid passport, adequate financial resources and not be less than 21 years in age, Saudi television Al Arabiya reported.
They should have no criminal records and obtain medical reports proving they suffer no contagious diseases.
It was not immediately clear when the “privileged iqama” system will take effect.
The Shura Council is made up of 150 members, all are appointed by the king. According to the council’s system, approved proposals and laws are referred to the king, who also heads the cabinet.
In 2016, Saudi Crown Prince Mohammad Bin Salman said in an interview with Bloomberg that the kingdom is planning to devise a Green Card-style residence system for expatriates that will inject billions of dollars into the national economy.
Saudi Arabia, the world’s top oil exporter, is seeking to diversify its economy.
The kingdom is home to a large community of foreign workers.
In April 2016, Saudi Arabia launched “2030”, an ambitious scheme envisaging turning the country into a leading industrial powerhouse and a global logistics hub.