Should long term expat professionals in Saudi be granted citizenship

Published:  22 Dec at 6 PM
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In an ever-increasing world of prejudice, an opinion piece in a prominent Saudi newspaper calls for certain categories of expat professionals to be granted citizenship, as is happening in other world countries.

The piece begins with other major world countries’ attitudes towards immigrant issues, stating Canada’s recent announcement of welcome to one million immigrants isn’t entirely based on the need to take humanitarian issues into account, as its view of incomers is as important contributors to its economic progress. If a would-be immigrant is rich, talented or educated to a certain level, he or she is let in, but others just as deserving and perhaps more so are kept out.

The USA’s now chaotic immigration programme is next, followed by several European countries’ practice of placing unwanted immigrants in camps. Turkey’s 2016 announcement that citizenship would be granted to expat engineers, medical professionals and those with college diplomas resulted in 40,000 of the three million Syrian refugees in the country being given residence visas six months later.

The writer states no-one can blame countries who allow immigration only to those who can make a solid contribution suitable for the times, as it’s been the pattern for centuries across the world, including during the very early days of the USA and in Europe including the UK over the years. It seems the poverty-stricken and uneducated can’t find a way out unless, as in the case of America, a new country is being established. No country, therefore, can live entirely without immigrants.

Some 10 million expats are at present resident in Saudi Arabia, with the vast majority unqualified and working for low wages. There is, at present, little difference between laws affecting the unqualified and those affecting expat professionals who are of serious value to the kingdom. The writer believes those with nothing to give except manual labour should not expect citizenship unless they were born in the country and should perhaps return to their home countries. But, citizenship should be the right of non-Saudi university-educated professors, engineers and medical professionals who’ve given years to helping the kingdom achieve its present world status.

His justification for the request is that non-Saudi basic-level workers send a collective, massive amount of money back to their home countries, money which should perhaps stay in the kingdom and be paid to local workers. The total of Saudi remittances sent outside the country is the highest in the world, with USA expats’ remittances coming a close second. The only difference between the two countries is simple - immigrants in the USA have mostly become citizens, whereas non-Saudis are still seen as foreign workers.
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