The Saudi Shura Council approved the special residency system for the foreign rich, wealthy, and businessmen to become an alternative to the sponsorship system applied in most of the Gulf Arab countries.
The special residency system was approved by the Saudi Shura council on May 8th as Saudi Arabia is moving to cancel the sponsorship system at a rapid pace.
Benefits of the Program
On Wednesday, the Shura Council approved the draft of special residency system, which aims to grant the resident benefits such as staying with his family, issuing a visit permit to his relatives, bringing in workers, owning property, owning means of transport, and other benefits.
The special residency system, approved by 76 members of Saudi Shura Council, also benefits the Saudi economy, eliminate some aspects of commercial concealment, and stimulate business activity, especially as the system requires the financial solvency of the applicant to benefit from the special residency.
The residency program grants the resident many privileges such as accommodation with family, visiting visas for relatives, owning property and vehicles, working in private sector establishments and moving from one to another, freely leaving and returning to Saudi Arabia, using the corridors for Saudis, and practicing trade.
Saudi Arabia has established a center called the special residency center, which is specialized in this kind of accommodation.
- The residency is either for an open period or a renewable year
Adding to freedom of movement to and from Saudi Arabia without the need of the sponsor’s consent, the special residency system is divided into permanent and temporary accommodations with a fixed fee, which give a number of privileges, including doing business according to specific regulations.
The special residency system is in line with what the Saudi Crown Prince, Muhammad bin Salman, announced on the Green Card project during a television interview in 2016, in which he said that the Green Card project, to be implemented within the next five years, will enable Arabs and Muslims to live long in Saudi Arabia and create an environment that is conductive to establish investments in Saudi Arabia, as part of Vision2030.
The special residency program is one of the tools to attract investment, enhance public revenues, and address economic problems such as commercial concealment and money smuggling outside the country.
For example, remittances from non-Saudis abroad in 2018 amounted to about SAR136bn. It is noted that Saudi Arabia ranks second in the world in the volume of remittances after the United States of America. These remittances have nothing to do with wages and salaries, but definitely with hidden investments that are considered a loss of the economy.
- Kingdom losing ‘billions’ to underground economy
The system of special residency is one of the practical solutions to address the problems of commercial concealment as well as huge remittances, where investors and expatriates will be able to systematically and legally keep their money legally. This will drive them for establishing more investments and settling their financial returns in Saudi Arabia. The special residency will also encourage expatriates who invest their money in the underground economy to shift to the official economy and will contribute to the localization of financial returns instead of remitting them abroad and pay the taxes and fees that they do not pay under the commercial concealment.