Saudi Arabia offers permanent residency programme

$213,000 premium visas allow foreigners to buy property and do business without a local sponsor

Late evening sunlight is seen reflected off the Kingdom Tower in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, on Thursday, Dec. 1, 2016. Saudi Arabia is working to reduce the Middle East’s biggest economy’s reliance on oil, which provides three-quarters of government revenue, as part of a plan for the biggest economic shakeup since the country’s founding. Photographer: Simon Dawson/Bloomberg
Powered by automated translation

Saudi Arabia has opened applications for a permanent residency programme designed to attract foreign investment to the kingdom, but it will cost 800,000 riyals ($213,000).

The scheme offers a permanent residency for 800,000 riyals ($213,000) and a one-year but renewable residency costing 100,000 riyals (27,000), according to the online portal for registrations.

The scheme will allow expats to do business without a Saudi sponsor, buy property and sponsor visas for relatives, the website said.

As well as the paying the fee, applicants must be at least 21 years old, prove financial solvency and have a clean criminal record and bill of health.

It was approved by the Saudi cabinet last month, but the portal began accepting applications on Sunday.

The programme, approved in May, is the latest among Gulf nations with the UAE already granting 10-year stays.

The idea for a long-term Saudi residency programme was first floated in 2016 by Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, as a part of his plan to reduce the economy’s reliance on oil and boost foreign direct investment. At the time, he estimated the programme would generate about $10 billion in annual revenue by 2020.

Analysts say the programme will largely benefit wealthy Arabs who have lived in Saudi Arabia for years without permanent residency or multinational companies seeking to do long-term business in the kingdom.

Saudi Arabia is currently home to some 10 million overseas workers.