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Arab News, Thu, Jan 11, 2024 | Jamada Al-Aakhirah 29, 1445

​​Expats eye new Premium Residency Program additions with optimism

Saudi Arabia: Expatriates living and working in the Kingdom woke up on Wednesday to the pleasant news of the introduction of five new products to the premium residency program. The new initiative allows foreigners who are eligible to avail added benefits during the course of their stint in Saudi Arabia.

The program aims to allow eligible foreigners to live in the Kingdom and receive benefits such as exemption from paying expat and dependents fees, visa-free international travel, and the right to own real estate and run a business without requiring a sponsor.

Foreigners working in Saudi Arabia received the news with excitement. “This is an absolute dream” come true, remarked Moon Bin Lee,  owner of the First Korean Camel Race Team.

Talking to Arab News, he said this kind of residency “has always been my dream so that I can live here with peace of mind and officially call this place my home and be a part of the future, be a part of the (ongoing) change and be a part of Vision 2030.”

He said that the introduction of this program will help him utilize his skills, talents, and connections from all over the world to contribute toward the progress of Saudi Arabia because “there is no question about it Kingdom is the future.”

The five new premium residency products include options for real estate owners, gifted individuals, people with special talents, investors, and entrepreneurs.

In 2019, Saudi Arabia launched a one-year limited-duration residency program with an annual fee of SR100,000 ($26,665) and the requirement to prove financial solvency. Meanwhile, unlimited-duration residency costs SR800,000 for permanent residency, again with proof of an applicant’s financial health.

The initiative aims to further boost the country’s ongoing economic transformation by creating employment opportunities and fostering the transfer of knowledge.

“When I first came to Saudi Arabia two years ago I fell in love with this place and I said this is where I want to live for the rest of my life for sure,” Moon Bin said.

“Everything that is happening here, the opportunities, this is one of the biggest reasons why expats come for the Kingdom,” he added.

Todd Albert Nims, a US national born in Saudi Arabia, was excited over the news. Talking to Arab News, he said: “Saudi Arabia is in my heart. It gave me so much (while I was) growing up. As a creative professional in film, theater, and the arts, I am humbled to have had the good fortune to give back by helping to grow these sectors in the Kingdom after coming back from the US.”

“My creative work is project-based, so it hasn’t always been easy to keep a residency in the Kingdom. For my situation, the Gifted Premium Residency would be a dream come true. It would take all the pressure off and allow me to feel for the first time like I won’t have to one day leave the community of Saudi filmmakers, dramaturgists, and artists with whom I have become so close. Fingers crossed that my application goes through!” he said.

Mohsin Ali Khan, a financial controller at a cloud gaming company in Riyadh, also expressed similar views. He said the introduction of the five new premium residency options marks a significant development in the Kingdom. He highlighted that the potential influx of specialized talent could have a positive impact on research and development initiatives in the country.

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