Arab nations are showing signs of a looking for ways to attract non-oil revenue by re-thinking the role of expats in their economy. Saudi Arabia, the world's biggest crude oil exporter approved a program that offers permanent residency to some foreigners.
The new residency permit scheme for qualified international expatriates is hoped to attract entrepreneurs, innovators and investors from around the world.
According to Saudi Gazette, Saudi Arabia's Council of Ministers approved the Special Privilege Iqama Law on Tuesday which gives qualified foreigners some additional benefits besides residency like, allocation visas to their families and permit to own real estate in the Kingdom.
The residency program will come in two forms, one that gives a permanent residence permit and another that is renewable on an annual basis.
Eng. Ibrahim Al Omar, governor of the Saudi Arabian General Investment Authority (SAGIA), said, "Our aim is to attract innovators from across the world to live and work in Saudi Arabia - and this reform will play a significant role in doing so. These investors and entrepreneurs will help to drive private sector growth, which is needed to realize the ambitious goals set out in Saudi Vision 2030."
Last year, a specialized Entrepreneur License was launched by the SAGIA that allows international entrepreneurs to launch a fully foreign-owned start-up company in Saudi Arabia. The Saudi Gazette said that reforms like these have enabled a 70 percent spike in the number of new foreign business licenses issued by SAGIA in Q1 2019, in comparison to the same period last year.