Saudi Arabia is offering a golden visa to expat investors who want to relocate to the Middle East desert kingdom – but the opportunity comes with a hefty price tag.
Wealthy expats with 800,000 riyals (around $215,000) can buy their way into the country’s permanent residency program.
Those with a little less cash can purchase a one year renewable residency visa for 100,000 riyals (about $26,500).
Marketed as ‘premium residencies’, the golden visas give expats the chance to buy property, set up businesses without a Saudi sponsor, move jobs and the chance to stay, leave or enter Saudi Arabia without any restrictions.
The visas also let expats sponsor visas for their families.
The Saudi government also demands that applicants are over 21 years old; can show financial solvency, have no health problems nor a criminal record.
UAE welcomes retirees
The program rolls back strict laws that govern expats living and working in conservative and strongly religious nation.
The aim, says the government, is to move the economy away from reliance on oil and gas by encouraging foreign investment.
The move follows similar measures in other Gulf States.
The United Arab Emirates now welcomes foreigners without sponsors and allows them to own businesses.
These long-term visas last five or 10 years – providing the applicants have a net worth of AED10 million ($2.725) to invest
The visa covers a wife and children plus a business executive and advisor.
Oman ban on expat jobs
The UAE is also welcoming retired expats, rather than forcing them to leave the country when their assignments expire.
Meanwhile, Oman is sending huge numbers of expats home in a bid to offer well-paid jobs to Omanis.
The number of expat engineers working in the tiny Gulf State’s private sector has dropped 7% in a year to 759,000 from 814,000 a year earlier and 839,000 in 2017.
Government figures revealed 55,000 expats were fired from their roles in Oman in the year to the end of March 2019.
A Ministry of Manpower ban on offering visas to expats is in place until the end of November, not only covering engineers but roles in sales, marketing and other service industries.