RIYADH —The special residency permit (iqama) for entrepreneurs, investors and skilled expatriates approved by the Saudi Cabinet on Tuesday will stimulate the national economy, according to economists who spoke to Saudi Gazette.
Last Wednesday, Saudi Arabia’s consultative Shoura Council passed the law for the new green card-style residency permit for foreign entrepreneurs, investors and skilled expatriates. The law will see foreigners benefit from the new residency scheme, which will not require a Saudi sponsor or employer.
The new system, which will come into force within 90 days, will attract investment, boost the country's non-oil GDP and increase government's revenues, they said.
According to the law, the residency permits will be offered to highly skilled expatriates who will benefit from added advantages including the ability to recruit workers, own property and transport, and enter and exit the Kingdom without a sponsor.
The permits will also include a family status so that a holder can issue visit visas for relatives.
The experts believe the privileged iqamas will spur activities in the service and retail sectors, augment tourism and generate a large number of jobs.
The system will further enhance the magnetic power of the Saudi market to attract skilled foreigners who are capable of moving the economic wheel, one expert said.
He said this would encourage competition among the manpower and in turn would raise their capabilities.
The economists said the system would further deepen the Kingdom's partnership with the rest of the world by luring competitive people and companies, which will reinforce the local economy and achieve the objectives of the Kingdom's Vision 2030.
They believe that this new system of residency will create a more conducive atmosphere for expatriates and their families in the Kingdom. Increased liquidity and purchasing power of consumers will revive the market, as people will tend to spend more in the local market, they add.
The economists said the new system would attract foreign entrepreneurs who would help Saudi businessmen to acquire new skills and expertise, augment trade and investment activities, increase commercial movement and attract investments that would help diversify the Saudi economy.
The new residency system is expected to bring to the Kingdom some of the best minds of the world that will develop the country's small and medium enterprises, raising the competitiveness of their products, said another economist.
He said new establishments would come to the country to promote the Saudi market increasing the number of jobs available to the Saudi citizens.
He argued that the privileged iqama system would help fight the illegal tasattur operations where foreigners run own businesses in the name of Saudi citizens by regulating investment mechanisms. The system will also prevent the flight of capital abroad as expatriates will have the freedom and protection to pump their savings back into the Saudi economy.
The experts are also of the opinion that the new system would increase productivity and reduce costs on traders and manufacturers.