By Uglobal Staff
Saudi Arabia has started to grant citizenship to highly skilled foreign talent of a wide range of professions – a step that comes after several other gulf states in the region took similar initiatives to diversify their oil-and-gas based economies.
The Saudi king made an announcement via a royal decree on Nov. 11. The Saudi citizenships are being granted only to "experts and exceptional global talents with unique competences in religious, medical, scientific, cultural, sports and technological fields," he said in a short statement released via the country's official press agency, SPA.
SAUDI ARABIA WANTS TO ATTRACT GLOBAL TALENT
The aim of the move was to create an attractive investment environment and retain "exceptional creative mind", the statement added.
Details of the exact number of individuals being granted the citizenship as well as the criteria used was not released in the official statement.
However, the Riyadh-based newspaper Saudi Gazette quoted its sources as saying that this was a nomination process and there is no official process to apply for Saudi citizenship by submitting applications to authorities.
In fact, Saudi Arabia will grant citizenship to only "a small number of foreign nationals," according to the newspaper, since the country does not want its local population to feel that the move would cut into the job market for local Saudi talent.
The latest step is seen as a part of the kingdom's ambitious developmental goals for the year 2030 for which it needs foreign talent from around the world. The initiative comes after Saudi Arabia had launched its Premier Residency system, the aim of which was also to retain foreign talent and investors.
Saudi Arabia first announced its plans to open its citizenship to foreigners in 2019, the same year it allowed foreign tourists to visit almost any part of the country for the first time.
SAUDI ARABIA FOLLOWS REGIONAL TREND OF OPENING UP TO FOREIGNERS
Recently, several gulf states have opened their borders to foreign talent and investors, making it easier for them to live and work long term in the region.
In September, the UAE announced the launch of its Green Visa program that enables foreign talent, investors, and entrepreneurs to work in the oil and gas rich emirate without getting a local sponsor first. Also, in July, the UAE said that all foreign doctors and their families would be eligible to apply for the country's golden visa long term residency program. Earlier in January, the gulf nation announced that it was even amending its citizenship law to allow nominated foreign talent and investors to get citizenship and passports.
In June, Oman also announced its own Investment Residency Program, allowing foreign investors to stay in the country on a 10-year long visa.
Qatar too has been offering long term residencies to investors who buy real estate in the country since 2020 and in April this year, the gulf state announced that foreign investors who invest just $200,000 in real estate in its new city called Lusail would also be able to get long term residencies for themselves and their families.
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