Saudi Arabia grants first permanent residencies to foreigners

Saudi Arabia has granted “premium” residency to 73 foreigners as part of its efforts to attract foreign investment into the country. The Kingdom said it received thousands of applications after offering permanent residency for a one-time fee of 800,000 riyals (US$ 213,301), and an annual renewable “premium” residency for 100,000 riyals per year. The first batch includes engineers, doctors, and financers from 19 different countries, according to a statement from the Premium Residency Center issued Monday.

“Applying for a premium residency is available to anyone who meets the relevant conditions, whether they are residing in the Kingdom or those wishing to come and settle here,” Premium Residency Center Chief Executive officer Bandar Al Ayed said in a statement.

Saudi Arabia is “one of the most important destinations, whether for working or investing, or even for residing,” he added. Foreign workers make up roughly a third of Saudi Arabia’s population of approximately 34 million.

The initiative, which was approved in May and formally started a month later, is part of a series of social and economic reforms made under Saudi Arabia’s Vision 2030 program – the Kingdom’s plan to transform its economy and reduce its reliance on crude oil exports.

In September, the Kingdom officially opened its doors to international visitors by offering tourist visas for the first time. Now, citizens of 49 countries can obtain an electronic visa by applying online or upon arrival in the Kingdom. Saudi Arabia reported that it welcomed 24,000 tourists in the 10 days after it issued tourism visas.

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