Saudi Arabia’s Premium Residency Center has launched five new visa categories in a bid to retain existing skilled talent and attract entrepreneurs and investors to the kingdom as a part of its Vision 2030 objective to position the country as global hub for business.

The residency permit grants foreigners the right to live, work, and own businesses and property in the country without requiring a sponsor, did not previously have specified categories for individuals who wished to apply.

Majid bin Abdullah Alkassabi, Chairman of the Board of the Premium Residency Center, which was launched in the kingdom following a royal decree, outlined that the five new products, including special talent, gifted, investor, entrepreneur, and real estate owner programmes.

The special talent residency programme caters to executives and professionals who specialise in healthcare, science, and research sectors. The gifted residency aims to integrate skilled professionals and talented individuals into Saudi Arabia’s cultural and sport sectors.

The investor residency has been designed for investors looking to capitalise on Saudi’s business landscape. Additionally, the entrepreneur residency is intended for aspirants and owners of innovative projects, eager to launch and develop start-ups in Saudi Arabia.

Meanwhile, the real estate owner category is for individuals who own property in the kingdom.

The initiative by Saudi Arabia follows in the footsteps of the UAE, which rolled out its special residency programmes to attract skilled professionals in the fields of science, medicine, sport, culture, or art, along with offering 10-year golden visa opportunities to investors, entrepreneurs, and real estate owners.

In 2021, the UAE also rolled out its Green Visas to allow for holders to sponsor themselves for five years, eliminating the need for a UAE national or employer to sponsor them.

Saudi Arabia’s latest move is in conjunction with the country’s drive to dominate this region as a business juggernaut, following up on programmes such as the Regional Headquarters (RHQ) initiative to attract multinational companies to establish their regional headquarters in the kingdom.

The government gave a deadline of January 1, 2024 for companies to move regional headquarters to Riyadh — or lose out on government contracts.

(Reporting by Bindu Rai, editing by Brinda Darasha)