Saudi Arabia introduces new visas for investors and entrepreneurs

The five categories are in line with the kingdom's economic diversification goal

King Fahad street in Riyadh. The new visas are aimed at creating more employment opportunities in the kingdom. AFP
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Saudi Arabia has launched five new visas to attract skilled professionals and investors as the Arab world’s biggest economy seeks to strengthen its position as a global centre for business.

The “premium residency products” are in line with the kingdom’s goals to drive economic transformation, create employment opportunities and increase knowledge transfer, Majid bin Alkassabi, chairman of Saudi Arabia’s board of the Premium Residency Centre, said on Wednesday.

The new visa categories of special talent, gifted, investor, entrepreneur, and real estate owner residency will offer holders “unparalleled opportunities for settling in Saudi Arabia”, he said.

The special visas "offer a wide range of benefits to holders, including the ability to conduct business, own real estate, obtain work permits for holders and family members, and many more advantages".

He did not, however, give details of the length of new special visas nor the cost investors and entrepreneurs will have to pay to obtain them.

Saudi Arabia, Opec's biggest oil producer, aims to cut its reliance on the sale of hydrocarbons and diversify its economy away from oil.

Expansion of its industrial base, creating jobs, boosting knowledge exchange and increasing foreign direct investment are among the main pillars of the kingdom's Vision 2030 agenda.

Saudi Arabia opened up several sectors for public-private partnerships and has introduced several schemes, including dedicated industry free zones and tax rebates, to attract new talent and investors to the kingdom.

It also introduced regulation for foreign companies to set up regional headquarters in the kingdom to support the country's non-oil economy. The kingdom hopes to have 480 global companies establish headquarters in the kingdom by 2030 as part of efforts to improve economic output.

In October 2021, 44 companies received government licences to set up headquarters in the country. The companies that had already relocated their regional headquarters by then included PepsiCo, DiDi, Unilever, Siemens, KPMG, Novartis, Baker Hughes, Halliburton, Philips, Flour, Schlumberger, SAP, PwC, Oyo, Boston Scientific and Tim Hortons.

The regional headquarters programme, an initiative by the Ministry of Investment and the Royal Commission for Riyadh City, aims to attract multinational companies by offering benefits and premium support services including a 30-year tax break.

Mr Alkassabi said the five new visa products have been developed in collaboration with the Premium Residency Centre’s strategic partners across several government entities.

The special talent residency caters to executives and professionals who specialise in health care, science and research. It aims to attract individuals with unique skills and experiences who can contribute to knowledge and technology transfers.

The residency aims to integrate skilled professionals and talented individuals into Saudi Arabia’s growing cultural and sport sectors.

The investor residency is designed for investors "looking to capitalise on Saudi’s thriving business landscape and generate high-impact returns from across the economy", Mr Alkassabi said.

The entrepreneur residency is intended for "aspiring entrepreneurs and owners of innovative projects" looking to set up their start-ups in the kingdom.

The real estate owners visa is designed for individuals looking to benefit from the country's fast-growing real estate market, according to Mr Alkassabi.

"The doors to all premium residency products are open to those who can add value to the national economy and actively participate in Saudi Arabia’s rapid development journey under Saudi Vision 2030,” he said.

Updated: January 10, 2024, 12:51 PM