Saudi Green Card attracts expat compliments and criticism

Published:  16 May at 6 PM
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Whilst Saudi Arabia’s launch of the Green Card-style visa is being welcomed, expats’ questions need answers.

The new Privileged Iqama residency scheme, now colloquially known as the Green Card, has been welcomed by the majority of expats as it allows permanent residency, property ownership and investment opportunities. A number of expats believe the new visa will prove a major attraction for the brightest and best, but others see flaws in its design. For example, one young software technician believes qualifiying candidates should be allocated separate grouping according to their sector and expertise rather than being lumped together in one single category.

Another commentator suggests it’s far too soon to give a definite opinion as to the visa’s overall usefulness, but believes it’s at least a step in the right direction. He asked whether it would only be available to wealthy applicants, thus leaving everyday expat workers out in the cold, but agreed the move should have been made far earlier. Another suggestion was that the new visa might lead to more job opportunities for less privileged members of Saudi society.

Official comments from Saudi lawmakers centred on the hope that the Green Card would attract more Western investors as have similar schemes worldwide which resulted in attracting ‘quality residents’ whilst protecting the rights and interests of locals. From this and similar comments, it would seem that what started as a good idea for the benefit of expat professionals is now just another ‘it’s all about the money’ schemes.
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