Expat investors in Saudi to be offered green cards

Published:  20 Dec at 6 PM
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In a surprise announcement, Saudi’s Council of Economic Affairs is studying the feasibility of a green card issue for qualified expats.

Although a spokesperson for the council declined to give details of the plan, the statement follows shared details on eligible expat investors from Shoura Council Financial Committee vice-chair Fahad bin Juma. The details included a statement that eligibility would be determined by a number of requirements put forward by the Ministry of Commerce and Investment. The plan would appear to be part of Vision 2030, with a number of lawmakers having pushed for a more open policy on foreign investment over the past several years.

The move follows on from the decision to allow engineering companies to be fully owned by foreigners, thus removing the requirement of partnership with a Saudi-owned company. Foreign firms wishing to take advantage of the change will need to prove a 10-year operations track record and must have at least a presence in four different countries. Full foreign ownership has also been granted to companies in the education and health sectors, an impressive departure from the Saudi norm. Health service companies will have the relevant ministry as a regulator rather than a service provider, and education centres will cover all levels from primary upwards. The opening up of the sectors to full expat ownership is expected to net some £180 billion between 2018 and 2022.

The recent appointment of Crown Price Mohammad has had an unprecedented effect on Saudi companies as well as the huge number of expats in the kingdom, especially since the prince’s introduction of his Saudi2030 plan, with more changes apparently in the pipeline.To date, some expat workers have been severely affected, although expat professionals seem to becoming more valued than previously, as well as being separated out from manual labourers in the minds of some lawmakers. Additionally, 500,000 more Saudi women are now part of the workforce, and women are now being allowed to drive, a massive lifestyle change for the kingdom’s female population.
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