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In Saudi Arabia for 30 to 50 years, even then an 'expat' ?
Thursday November 14, 2013 7:22 PM, F.T. Khan

We all are from Adam and Adam was made of clay.

The Creator created humans into tribes, nations and different civilizations so there could be some diversity and different nations could know each other. I am sure that if all the people in the world were of one nationality, race, ethnicity or culture, it would be a very boring world. In history the making of a civilization or a nation was due to several factors that included the population's origin, ethnicity, culture, race, economic mobility and so forth.

Saudi Arabia has entered into a new paradigm of economic development that has not been witnessed in the last few decades and the nation's pace of growth and development is phenomenal in all major sectors, such as education, health, infrastructure, transportation, and urban development. The vision of the Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques King Abdullah to make Saudi Arabia a developed and prosperous country in the 21st century has played a pivoted role which is reflected in his establishment of King Abdullah University of Science and Technology (KAUST).

Recently the Ministry of Interior and Ministry of Labor have taken an important step to cleanse the labor market and regularize the expatriates residing in Saudi Arabia which is necessary for the Saudization campaign and for the creation of law and order which requires that the government should know who is residing in the country and under what status.

Nations, communities and civilizations in the past were build upon the fusion of people who came together with common interests to build a region and after a period of time, the sovereign authorities embraced them and gave them citizenship which they well deserved.

Similarly, expatriates came to Saudi Arabia in the 1950s, 60s, 70s and 80s and some of them worked 35 to 40 years in their modest capacity and added value to the economy. Many of them now live in the Kingdom with two generations of their families who were born in Saudi Arabia. These people do not wish to be treated by the authorities as simple workers and if it is not possible to grant them citizenship, then they at least hope to be provided with some privileges as they continue to add value to the economy and community because of their knowledge of the country, its culture, history, and working environment. Indeed, they have already blended into the roots of the country.

Most of these individuals have a good track record which is reflected in the fact that their residential status has been renewed every year by the authorities. The country can benefit from their experience by developing volunteer programs for them. There have been several reports that say that billions of riyals are remitted outside the county, but if these expatriates who are long-term residents of the Kingdom were allowed to own property, they could reside and add value to the country without being controlled by a sponsor.

If only half a million expatriates purchased residential property after getting approval from the relevant authorities at a minimum price of SR 500,000 each, then SR 250 billion would be injected into the Saudi economy overnight, and if expatriates were allowed to invest in the Saudi stock market and at a conservative estimate if only one million expats invest only SR 1,000 annually, it would lead to a SR 1 billion year-on-year investment.

Some of these people have already moved to Western countries where they will become nationals of the country in three to five years' time, but others would not like to leave after living for 30 to 50 years in the blessed land of Saudi Arabia and they hope that there will be some solution so that they can continue adding value to the country.

I am confident that long-residing expatriates and Saudi-born educated expatriates will not be a liability and will rather be an asset for the country as they are a bridge between two countries and regions that can help in trade, investment and cultural exchange, and they will help to make Saudi Arabia a vibrant society and a competitive nation in the 21st century.

Long live Saudi Arabia!

The above article was published by Saudi Gazette. F. T. Khan is a global entrepreneur and consultant. He can be reached at

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