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KSA okays new expatriate residency scheme

KSA okays new expatriate residency scheme

RIYADH, May 15: Saudi Arabia's cabinet approved the "Privileged Iqama" residency scheme on Tuesday, which allows expatriates to live and work in the Kingdom without the need of a local sponsor (Kafeel) for the first time. Plans for the scheme were discussed and rubber-stamped earlier this month by the Shoura Council. The new Privileged Iqama system offers benefits to highly skilled expatriates and owners of capital funds. It is different from the existing iqama system, because residents would not require a Saudi sponsor or employe. The new residency scheme - commonly referred to as the Saudi "green card" - was first mentioned by Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman nearly three years ago as part of the ambitious Vision 2030 plan to open up the kingdom and diversify its economy. The Council of Ministers approved the Special Privilege Iqama Law that provides qualified foreigners a number of residency benefits. The weekly session of the Cabinet, chaired by Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques King Salman at Al-Salam Palace in Jeddah on Tuesday night, adopted the landmark decision after examining an earlier decision of the Shoura Council and reviewing the recommendation of the Council of Economic and Development Affairs (CEDA). Last Wednesday, the Shoura approved the draft Special Privilege Iqama (residency permit) Law that aimed at attracting affluent people with special treatment. According to the law, the holder of such an Iqama will have family status, and can obtain visit visa for relatives, recruit domestic workers apart from owning properties, means of transport and such other advantages. The law envisages that expatriates will have to make payment of a special fee determined by the Executive Regulations and that a center called the Center of Distinguished Iqama will be established for the purpose. There will be two types of Iqamas - one for an unlimited period and the other for one-year validity that's subject to renewal. The requirements for the new type of Iqama include a valid passport, enough financial resources, sound health report and certificate of no criminal record. Minister of Media Turki Al-Shabanah said in a statement to Saudi Press Agency following the session that the Cabinet entrusted the Ministry of Justice to discuss and sign a draft memorandum of cooperation with the American Bar Association in the fields of justice. The Council decided to authorize the Minister of Foreign Affairs or his deputy to sign a draft uniform agreement in the diplomatic and consular field of the GCC States. Al-Shabanah said the Cabinet approved two memoranda of understanding between the governments of Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates in the fields of science and education as well as in the field of information. The Cabinet also endorsed the organizational structure and organizational guide of the Ministry of Civil Service. Saudi Arabia's interior minister chairs Hajj Supreme Committee meeting. Interior Minister Prince Abdul Aziz bin Saud bin Naif, left, and Makkah Gov. Prince Khaled Al-Faisal attended a Hajj-related meeting in Jeddah on Tuesday. (SPA) Prince Abdul Aziz bin Saud bin Naif, interior minister and chairman of the Hajj Supreme Committee, on Tuesday chaired a meeting of the committee in Jeddah. The meeting was held in the presence of Madinah Gov. Prince Faisal bin Salman and Prince Khaled Al-Faisal, adviser to King Salman, governor of Makkah and vice chairman of the committee. The meeting discussed issues pertaining to Hajj, and followed up on projects aimed at providing quality services to pilgrims. Last week, Saudi Arabia's Ministry of Hajj and Umrah launched a new interactive online portal. The website has been redesigned to provide easy and quick access to all of the ministry's services, and is part of ongoing efforts to keep pace with the digital transformation taking place in government departments. Salah Basaif, director general of the ministry's information technology department, said the new portal offers more flexible options to access services, including advanced search functions and bookmarking of information. "The e-portal was designed to reduce the effort and cost of future development processes and provide flexibility to maintain the website's performance and the continuity of providing services even during maintenance or large development processes," added Basaif. The new portal will provide more than 30 services for pilgrims, available in Arabic, English and French, with an average of 55 pages per language. Four more languages will be added in the near future.

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