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'Green Card' to foreigners in Saudi Arabia will boost investment: Experts
Monday April 11, 2016 11:34 PM, Agencies

Saudi Arabia’s plan to introduce a permanent residency card system for expatriates, similar to US Green Card, will help cut down foreign remittances by 30 percent, according to experts.

“The move will help keep billions of Saudi riyals within the Kingdom,” Saudi Gazette quoted sources in a report published Monday.

Nidal Ridwan, chairman of the Federation of Labor Committees in the Kingdom, said he expected the formation of an independent authority to implement the new system.

Deputy Crown Prince Mohammed Bin Salman, who is chairman of the Council of Economic and Development Affairs, has already announced the government’s resolve to implement the system, which would bring at least SR37 billion to national coffers.

Ridwan said the new Green Card would not only help the Kingdom get rid of the negative impact of illegal tasattur (cover-up) business but also get rid of the sponsorship system.

Non-Saudis would be able to enjoy all the benefits and services being enjoyed by Saudis including medical services and banking facilities.

“You know the Green Card holders enjoy all the rights US citizens enjoy except the right to nomination, election and joining the armed forces. I believe the same thing will happen in Saudi Arabia once the new system is implemented,” Ridwan explained.

He highlighted the Kingdom’s economic attractions, adding that it would help attract highly qualified Saudi and foreign manpower to implement its various projects.

But to get permanent residency, applicants should have specific academic qualifications and professional skills in addition to capital funds for investors to add value to the Saudi economy and society, Ridwan said.

It is widely believed that the new system would give a shot in the arm of the Kingdom’s diversification program in terms of increasing the flow of foreign investment. Those who wish to get permanent residency card should have the minimum investment fund specified by the government, which will assure them short-term and long-term investment guarantees.

Economic analyst Ahmed Al-Khateeb emphasized the positive impact of the new card system on the Saudi economy.

“It will give an opportunity for expats having good revenue to invest in the Kingdom’s businesses and real estate. This will help reduce foreign remittances to a great extent because of the presence of attractive investment windows within the Kingdom.”

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