Expat relocation Egypt Saudi Middle East ..
Mobility Management Middle East

Egypt spending on New El Alamein City project hits $1.3bn

Egypt has spent nearly E£22 billion ($1.31 billion) on the Phase One of its ambitious New El Alamein City project since last June, excluding the costs of sewage, water, and wastewater treatment plants, said a report.

One of the new generation millennium cities coming up on the North Coast, the New El Alamein City is spread over a sprawling 202 million sq m area.

Some of the projects in Phase One are likely to be opened this month, while the majority of them will be inaugurated in mid-2020, stated Ghany in a statement to Egyptian Businessmen's Association (EBA), reported Mubasher, citing New Alamein Government Office Chairman Osama Abdul Ghany.

The first phase of the project covers an area of 24,000 acres, while both the second and third phases are over 12,000 acres, said the report.

It is being designed to accommodate more than 3 million inhabitants by the end of the Phase One, it added.


Egypt's new admin capital’s 70pc infrastructure completed

Work is progressing at a steady pace on Egypt's New Administrative Capital project with nearly 70 per cent of the infrastructure projects already completed, said a report.

All the construction work of the first phase of the new capital, including facilities and infrastructure, is set for completion in the first half of 2020, reported Mubasher, citing its spokesman Khaled Al Husseini.

Already 60 to 70 per cent of facilities and infrastructure works in Phase One has been completed, stated Al Husseini.

"The water facilities work at the new capital is now almost 95 per cent over, while about 30 per cent of the sewage system work has been finalised," he added.


Work in full swing at Egypt's grand museum project

Work on the 167,000-sq-m Grand Egyptian Museum (GEM) is progressing at a steady pace with the structural work fully completed and the surrounding roads almost ready, said a report.

Work on the 167,000-sq-m Grand Egyptian Museum, an ambitious project for the Arab nation, is progressing at a steady pace with the structural work fully completed and the surrounding roads almost ready, said a report.

An ambitious project for the Arab nation, GEM boasts main museum building, the main square, the entrance for main visitors, the Ramses hall, the conference building, the pyramids wall, the recreational park, the Nile Valley, the children's park, Khufu, Pyramids Restaurant, and Masala.

Prime Minister Dr Mostafa Madbouli inspected the latest developments taking place in the project site and the surrounding area of the museum, reported Egypt Today.

He later toured the proposed site for the transfer of Khufu boats and instructed officials to deploy engineering and restoration affairs experts for the project, the report added.

The Premier was accompanied by Dr Khaled Anany, Minister of Antiquities and Major General Atef Moftah, General Supervisor of the Grand Egyptian Museum.


Sotheby's International Realty opens new Qatar unit

Sotheby's International Realty Affiliates said it has joined hands with Alfardan Group, a premium lifestyle conglomerate in Qatar, to launch its second branded company in the Middle East in the capital Doha.

Sotheby's International Realty currently has more than 22,700 affiliated independent sales associates located in nearly 1,000 offices in 72 countries and territories worldwide.

Qatar Sotheby's International Realty is the second Sotheby's International Realty-branded company in the Middle East besides Gulf Sotheby's International Realty located in Dubai.

Qatar Sotheby's International Realty will be headed by general manager Seran Gheorghe, an industry veteran who has practised real estate in the Middle East for the past 13 years.

Gheorghe was a top performing associate with Gulf Sotheby's International Realty for the past six years and worked with Qatari clients to make this opening possible, said the statement from Sotheby's.

The Qatari unit will serve the luxury residential real estate markets of Lusail, the island of Pearl and West Bay Lagoon. The company will also continue to support Qatari clients in their continuous interest for the best international assets.

"Qatar's high-income economy and global real estate interest is appealing to the Sotheby's International Realty brand," said Philip White, president and chief executive officer, Sotheby's International Realty.

"Seran and his team have a strong understanding of local and global luxury real estate and we are proud to have them as our affiliate in Qatar," he stated.

On the new role, Gheorghe said: "The real estate market in Qatar offers high-quality, luxurious apartments, penthouses and beachfront villas. From a global perspective, we are seeing interest from buyers in India, China, Europe and the United States."

"We pride ourselves in offering the highest level of support and advice to our clients before, during and after the transaction. Aligning our company with the Sotheby's International Realty brand will further provide our clients with unparalleled marketing, global reach and exposure," he added.- TradeArabia News Service


Not giving way to emergency vehicles leads to Dh3,000 fine: MoI

The Ministry of Interior, MoI, has announced that it is increasing the fine concerning drivers that do not give way to emergency vehicles, such as ambulances, police cars and official parade vehicles, as mentioned in the Federal Traffic Law, to AED3,000.

Offending vehicles can also be seized for 30 days and drivers will be penalised six traffic points, it added.

The decision, which will come into force on 1st July 2019, aims to improve road and traffic safety, reduce the number of deaths resulting from traffic accidents, and achieve the indexes of the National Agenda, as per the UAE Government vision.

The Ministry has highlighted its keenness to ensure the safety and security of roads and undertake the necessary procedures while urging road users to be active partners in its related efforts.

It also recently announced that it will conduct civil patrols to monitor violations against emergency and official vehicles, through its smart systems, road-mounted cameras and patrol vehicles, to ensure the safety of the general public and enable them to reach their desired locations as quickly as possible.

The Ministry of Interior has stressed that road users must listen to emergency sirens and identify the lights of emergency vehicles, and everyone must take their responsibility and ensure safety by giving priority to these vehicles.


Dubai's Careem says to offer free WiFi in all cars from mid-July

Careem, the Dubai-based ride hailing app, said on Thursday it is to launch free unlimited WiFi in all its cars from mid-July.

The service is a result of a recent partnership with Etisalat and Snapit Digital to provide free, high-speed Wi-Fi to all Careem passengers in the UAE.

The new service that is set to roll out mid-July in all Careem’s vehicles guarantees that personal data of the customers who are connected to the Careem mobile app will not be shared with any third party and log-in is secured.

Adib Samara, head of business development at Careem, said: “Careem is delighted to sign this milestone agreement as it reflects our commitment to provide secure, high-speed communication to all Careem patrons on their journey. This agreement is another vital step forward in making Careem one of the safest and trusted online platforms in the region.”

Dr Mohammed Alketibi and Rajiv Dutta, co-founders of Snapit Digital, added: “Our aim is to exceed customer expectations with free high-capacity internet access for those riding in a Careem vehicle, and deliver 10X experience that re-imagines how customers consume WiFi service while on the move in the UAE.”

Esam Mahmoud, senior vice president, Etisalat SMB, said: “Etisalat has worked closely with Careem and Snapit to ensure superior service and experience for Careem clients. We are committed to support the vision of Careem in Middle East and African regions, and look forward to exploring further opportunities and synergies especially in digital space, leveraging strongly all strengths and capabilities of both.”


Dubai airports trials use of 'passport-free' biometric ID system

Dubai Airports and Emirates airline are trialling plans to replace traditional passport and paper travel documents with biometrics and face recognition, increasing the ease and speed with which passengers can move quickly from check-in to their aircraft seat.

The system, known as ‘One ID’ has already been tested on flights between London and Dubai and further trials will be held on flights between Dubai and Australia later this year, according to media reports.

“We ran a trial between London Gatwick and Dubai… and we’re now trying to expand that,” Dubai Airports CEO Paul Griffiths, said at the International Air Transport Association (IATA) AGM and World Air Transport Summit in Seoul, according to a report by the Australian Business Traveller website.

“We learned from that trial that the technology works: the idea of a single identity applied in different locations works, and if we can make that work globally, that’s the intention,” he added.

The One ID system will be used across check-in desks, passport control counters, duty-free shops, airport lounges and boarding queues, according to the report.

“Every traveller will appreciate the convenience of getting from the curb to the gate without ever having to show a paper passport or boarding pass,” IATA Director General and CEO, Alexandre de Juniac, was quoted as saying.

“The vision for One ID is a paperless travel experience where passengers can fly around the world safely and securely using only their individual biometric data. This will be achieved using a trusted digital identity, biometric recognition technology, and a collaborative identity management platform accessible to various authorised stakeholders.”

A Dubai Airports spokesperson confirmed that the One ID trials will begin later this year.

No check-in desks

Earlier this year, Griffiths announced that he was aiming to eventually do away with physical check-in desks at Dubai’s airports, as the emirate’s transport hubs embrace modern technological advances.

“What we want is to eliminate them altogether. Soon, I don’t think you’ll need to check-in using any physical token of booking. Most of it will be done at the time of booking the in office or home,” Griffiths told Arabian Business’ sister website Aviation Business.

“We just need to find a way of dealing with baggage and I think technology is moving towards that area too,” he added.

Dubai International airport holds the title of the world’s busiest international airport and last year its annual traffic surpassed 89.1 million. The airport also managed to reduce waiting times by 28 percent, a feat reportedly achieved thanks to the airport’s introduction of smart gates and an advanced operations centre.

“We have now decided that not only is growth very much on our agenda for present and future, we are now seeing a maturity in the aviation market, which is putting us in a position where we want to be not just the biggest airport for international traffic but the best,” Griffiths said.


UAE permanent residency scheme: All you need to know

The General Directorate of Residency and Foreigners Affairs, Dubai, on Tuesday shared the details about the recently announced 10-year Gold Card residency scheme. Here is all we know about the scheme, which has been availed of by 400 expats so far.

Also read: South Asian expats among first 'Gold Card' recipients

What is a Gold Card?

It is a 10-year residency scheme for investors, entrepreneurs, specialised talents, researchers and outstanding students, and their families.

Who can apply for it?

Foreign and UAE-based investors, entrepreneurs, high-salaried executive managers, professional talents, researchers in various fields of science and knowledge, and outstanding students.

Does the visa need to be renewed?

Yes, it has to be renewed every 10 years.

Can the recipient stay outside the country for more than six months?

Yes, they are exempted from the rule which states that residents cannot be outside the UAE for more than six consecutive months.

How many expats have got it so far?

400 expats have received it since it was introduced last month.

How can one apply for it?

UAE-based individuals can apply at any immigration office or accredited offices. Non-UAE-based individuals can acquire the documents from https://smartservices.ica.gov.ae/echannels/web/client/guest/index.html#/dashboard

What is the procedure?

According to the General Directorate of Residency and Foreigners Affairs (GDRFA), a special committee has been created to evaluate the applications on a case-to-case basis.

How much does the visa cost?

The GDRFA has not revealed the cost of the visa but some businessmen who spoke to Khaleej Times said it was less than Dh1,000.

How long does the GDRFA take to issue it?

The waiting time to get a Gold Card varies from a mere two minutes to 45 minutes for the entire family.


Now, non-residents can apply for 10-year UAE visa

Executives with a monthly salary of Dh30,000 and above are also eligible for the long-term visa.

Foreign investors, businessmen and individuals with "exceptional talents and skills" can apply for the 10-year Gold Card residency scheme as long as they meet the requirements set by the government, the General Directorate of Residency and Foreigners Affairs (GDRFA) announced on Tuesday.

The prospective investor must meet any of these requirements:

(1) Make a deposit of not less than Dh10 million in an investment fund in the UAE;

(2) Establish a company with a capital of Dh10 million or be a partner in a company with a capital of not less than Dh10 million. The total share in the partnership should not be less than 60 per cent of total company capital. Foreigners can also in a real estate with a property value of not less than Dh5 million.

This came as the GDRFA-Dubai revealed that 400 expats of the 6,800 applicants have received the Gold Card since the permanent residency scheme was rolled out last month.

The long-term visa holders can remain outside the country for as long as they wish. "They can freely come in and out of the country at their will. They are exempted from the rule which states that residents cannot be outside the UAE for more than six consecutive months," Major-General Mohammed Al Marri, director-general of the GDRFA-Dubai, said.

He clarified that the Gold Card has to be renewed every 10 years. "This is because medical insurance and other procedures have to be done," the officer explained to the media in the presence of around 100 businessmen who were the initial recipients of the visa.

Explaining the conditions to be met for applying for the scheme, he said the amount invested should be wholly-owned by the investor and not a loan from any financial institutions. The applicant is required to provide proof that he has held the amount for at least three years.

The applicant's financial liability should not be more than his total assets of Dh10 million. Likewise, the applicant is required to have a comprehensive health insurance for himself and immediate family members.

The permanent residency initiative has identified the first 6,800 qualified expats from over 70 countries to benefit from the scheme's unprecedented benefits. The current investments of these residents are estimated at Dh100 billion.

The benefits of the permanent residency also include the spouse and children of the cardholder to ensure cohesive social ties.

The visa is valid as long as all terms and conditions are met, noted Al Marri. "If the business falters in the future, the Gold Card visa will be reviewed and renewed on a case-to-case basis.

Other long-term visa categories

Aside from the Gold Card, there are other categories with lesser periods of validity for expats. Doctors, investors, specialists and students (those with a grade of 95 per cent and above in general secondary and university students with a grade of 3.75 and above), and executive managers with a monthly salary of Dh30,000 and above are eligible for this.


Dubai Metro relocating women and children cabin to add privacy and comfort to riders

RTA’s Rail Agency is set to relocate the Women and Children’s Metro Cabin in the existing metro trains over two months. During this period, these cabins, along with posters, will be relocated from the current location near the Gold Cabin to the new location at the other end of the train. The relocation process will be completed by the end of August 2019 year.

“In accordance with its vision of ‘Safe and Smooth Transport for All’, RTA looks out for the comfort of Dubai Metro riders, especially women and children. The Rail Agency has kicked off a field campaign to implement this process, which aims to make the Women and Children cabins in harmony with the the new trains cabins designs,” said Mohammed Yousef Al Mudharreb, Director of Rail Operation at RTA’s Rail Agency.

“The Agency has launched a three-phase campaign to ensure a smooth relocation process. Phase I aims at creating awareness amongst metro riders through social media and directional signs. Employees will be at hand to guide passengers and respond to their queries regarding the new changes. In Phase II, posters will be placed on floors and platform screen doors to lead women and children to the new location of their cabin. Phase III will focus on the completion of the relocation of Women and Children’s cabin in the existing trains,” explained Al Mudharreb.

The decision to relocate Women and Children cabin came in view of the popularity of these cabins, especially during summer holidays.

RTA always seeks to ensure the privacy and comfort of these category riders in line with the norms and traditions of the community.


Dubai launches e-platform for medicine dispensing

The Dubai Health Authority (DHA) launched a new unified electronic platform to monitor the dispensing of opioid pain medication to all government and private health facilities in partnership with the Ministry of Interior.

Dr Marwan Al Mulla, director of the Health Regulation Sector at the DHA revealed that the platform was launched by the authority as per international standards to monitor these medications in all stages until it reaches consumers through legitimate channels in line with the laws and regulations of the country.

He added that by adopting this platform, the authority succeeded in eliminating paper transactions related to dispensing these medications. The platform also helps prevent these drugs from being misused in a non-medical and legal manner, which may be a danger to the lives of individuals and the community.

Dr Al Mulla stressed the need for medical facilities to abide by the new rules, and to adhere to the provision of medicines through the e-platform. He said that the e-platform was launched as part of the DHA's keenness to strengthen drug control and develop it continuously, in order to ensure the safety of Dubai's community and the health of its members.

He added that it is also in line with the smart transformations adopted by the authority, to meet the directives of the Government of Dubai of going completely paper-free by 2021 as the e-platform depends on smart paper-free technologies. – TradeArabia News Service


Oman to impose new excise tax to boost revenues

Oman will impose a new tax on sugary drinks and tobacco products starting on June 15, as the nation seeks to boost state revenues strained by years of low oil prices.

A 100% excise tax will be introduced for tobacco products, energy drinks and meat, while a 50% tax will be applied on carbonated drinks, according to a statement from an official at the Secretariat General for Taxation published by Oman's state news agency on Saturday.

"The excise tax is a consumption tax and is considered to be indirect taxes. Thus, the final charge is on the consumers, but it is collected in advance at a stage of the supply chain, notably through the business sectors," said Sulaiman bin Salim Al Aadi, director general of survey and tax agreements.

Oman has been slow in implementing fiscal reforms aimed at limiting the widening of its budget deficit, while it has increasingly relied on external funding - through bonds and loans - to refill its coffers.

The sultanate had originally planned to introduce a 5 per cent value-added tax in 2018, which is now expected to start in 2020.

"Further delays in implementation, along with a scenario of lower oil prices, pose downside risks to our assumption of narrower fiscal deficits relative to 2015-2017," S&P Global Ratings said in April, adding that it expected fiscal gains in 2019 coming from the implementation of excise taxes on tobacco and energy drinks.

Oman said at the start of the year it expected its budget deficit to be 2.8 billion rials ($7.27 billion) this year, or 9 per cent of gross domestic product.


Bahrain's Ithmaar Bank launches biometric ATM network

Following the launch, Ithmaar Bank customers are no longer required to use their cards at the bank’s ATMs. Instead, they can simply use their fingerprint along with their PIN to process financial transactions.

Ithmaar Bank, a Bahrain-based Islamic retail bank, has announced that it has successfully launched the region’s first biometric-enabled automated teller machine (ATM) network.

The announcement was made after Ithmaar Bank retrofitted all its 43 ATMs with sophisticated fingerprint readers after having completed extensive testing of the new security feature.

Following the launch, Ithmaar Bank customers are no longer required to use their cards at the bank’s ATMs. Instead, they can simply use their fingerprint along with their PIN to process financial transactions.

To use the service for the first time, customers will need to register their fingerprint data at their nearest branch.

Ithmaar Bank CEO Ahmed Abdul Rahim said: “This helps further reinforce Bahrain’s already prominent position as a key and innovative banking hub in the region.”

The launch follows an announcement last September when Ithmaar Bank and Eazy Financial Services unveiled plans to launch the region’s first biometric payment network, supported by the Labour Fund Tamkeen.

“The initiative is a result of the financial support of Tamkeen, with the support of the Central Bank of Bahrain and the Bahrain Economic Development Board,” said Rahim. “It is something we can all be justifiably proud of, and it would not have been possible without all their support and guidance.

“Ithmaar Bank is determined to become the retail bank of choice. To do so, we invest heavily in continuously developing our products and services to ensure we meet or exceed customer expectations,” he added.

The network is based on a platform that was developed by Eazy Financial Services, a Bahrain fintech start-up.


Bahrain says to phase out use of plastic products from July

First phase of Bahrain plan will focus on single-use plastic bags as well as banning the import of non-biodegradable plastic bags

Later phases will witness a permanent ban on the use of plastic bags at certain malls and supermarkets.

Bahrain will start phasing out the use of plastic products in July, it has been announced.

A Ministerial order with respect to the technical regulations for plastic products will come into effect on July 21, state news agency WAM reported, citing Bahrain News Agency.

It said the order will regulate and phase out the use of plastic bags.

The first phase will focus on single-use plastic bags as well as banning the import of non-biodegradable plastic bags.

Later phases will witness a permanent ban on the use of plastic bags at certain malls and supermarkets.

The relevant authorities are currently working on the implementation phase for the remaining plastic products.

Guidelines will be issued for manufacturers and suppliers on reducing plastic waste to ensure a smooth transition.

Bahrain has joined a number of leading countries in banning the import of plastic waste, following the United Nations' call to mitigate ocean pollution and climate change.


Bahrain to build new sports medicine hospital

Bahrain's Supreme Council for Youth and Sports (SCYS) has announced plans to build a new sports medicine hospital as part of its efforts to provide treatment and sports rehabilitation services to the kingdom's athletes and the public.

The work on the hi-tech facility will begin soon, reported the Gulf Daily News, our sister publication.


Cinépolis plans 63 new screens across Saudi Arabia by 2021

Mexican movie chain Cinépolis has announced plans to develop 63 new cinema theatres across Saudi Arabia in the major cites of Riyadh, Jeddah, Dammam, Jazan and Najran over the next two years.

The largest cinema exhibitor in Latin America and fourth largest exhibition circuit in the world, Cinépolis said six cinemas will be rolled out across the kingdom over the next two years, with the first due to open in Lulu Mall, Dammam, by the end of this year, four scheduled for 2020 and the sixth for 2021.

The expansion into Saudi Arabia marks a huge milestone for the global cinema chain and has been made possible by the Kingdom’s Vision 2030, which aims to diversify the country’s economy by leveraging non-oil sectors and promote culture and entertainment, said a statement from the company.

The Saudi General Commission for Audiovisual Media (GCAM) issued the fourth Exhibitor License for Cinema Operation to Cinépolis International under the entity Luxury Entertainment, which has partnered with Al Hokair Group for expansion in KSA along with its regional partner, Al Tayer Group, in August 2018.

Cinépolis will introduce its world-class cinema-going experience through high-touch theatre concepts, including Luxury, Premium, Macro XE, 4D Emotion and kid-approved Cinépolis Junior auditoriums to the country that is home to over 39.5 million potential moviegoers, said Mishal Al Hokair, the Chairman Luxury Entertainment and CEO of Al Hokair Group at a press conference.

The new cinemas will provide movie-goers with an unrivalled level of service, food, technology and the latest movies from around the world, he stated in the presence of Miguel Mier, Global COO Cinépolis; Javier Sotomayor, Managing Director Asia Cinépolis and Ashish Shukla, CEO Cinépolis Gulf.

Over the next 5 years, Cinépolis intends to be a leading exhibitor in the Saudi Arabia region.

The Mexican movie chain had early this year opened its first cinema in neighbouring Bahrain. Since then it has seen an ever increasing following from the local community in Bahrain and Saudis alike.

The opening of the brand’s six cinemas in the kingdom will help to boost the economy through the recreational spend. A recent study by PwC revealed that the kingdom’s cinema market could potentially generate 60 to 70 million admissions and the box office market could hit $950 million in 2030.

The new openings will be located in Lulu Mall in Dammam, Al Hokair Time in Jazan, Obhour Mall in Jeddah, Cordoba Mall in Riyadh, Najran City Center and Al Massarh Mall, with a total of 63 screens across all six locations.

The new cinemas will feature Junior. A first-of-its-kind in the kingdom, Junior theatres in Saudi Arabia are set to be a huge hit with parents and youngsters, and have been designed to allow families to enjoy their favourite movies in a welcoming and fun space that expertly caters to their needs.

The Junior Theatre features a colourful Jungle Gym, complete with slide and ball pit, as well as fun bean-bag seating.

Luxury auditoriums are another format that will be featured in Saudi Arabia. They will include 180 degrees, super relaxing leather reclining seats with personal amenities, Maitre d’ call buttons, personal bag storage and adjustable tables.

Every seat allows the guests to be immersed in the best viewing experience and to enjoy Cinepolis’ luxury service.

Macro XE auditoriums will also provide Dolby Atmos sound that creates a powerful audio experience thanks to the high-tech combination of the latest generation of audio speakers located throughout each of the venue’s premium auditoriums, said the statement from the company.

The screen is triple the size of an ordinary cinema screen and makes you feel like you are part of the movie, it stated.

Visitors to Cinépolis’ Saudi cinemas will be able to enjoy a premium range of delicious movie treats including buttered popcorn and nachos or opt for a hot drink expertly prepared by in-house baristas at the speciality coffee shop, ‘Coffee Tree’.

A full menu of gourmet snack items and concessions is also available to movie-goers, including paninis, flatbread pizza, crêpes and speciality smoothies, it added.- TradeArabia News Service


Saudi Arabia starts Premium Residency scheme

Saudi Arabia's Premium Residency Center has started receiving applications for obtaining the Saudi Premium Residency through the electronic platform "Saprc" (saprc.gov.sa), said a report.

The centre is looking forward to serve residents through the comprehensive "Saprc" platform, through which an applicant can upload all the required documents and electronic payment for the required fees. The platform also provides an introduction of the system and the centre, the Saudi Press Agency report said.

The centre offers two types of Saudi Premium Residency -- Permanent Premium Residency with a one-time payment of SR800,000 (213,000), and Premium Residency with a yearly fee of SR100,000 ($27,000).

The approval by the cabinet under the chairmanship of the Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques King Salman bin Abdulaziz Al Saud, of the Premium Residency gives an opportunity to those who wish to reside or invest in the kingdom according to the criteria set by the system, said the SPA report.

The scheme will allow expats to do business without a Saudi sponsor, buy property and sponsor visas for relatives. The applicant must be at least 21 years of age and provide proof of financial solvency.

The centre is a financially and administratively independent entity associated with the Council of Economic and Development Affairs.


Saudi Arabia offers permanent residency to expats for $213,000

Saudi Arabia's premium residencies will allow foreigners to buy property and do business without a Saudi sponsor, switch jobs and exit the kingdom easily and sponsor visas for family members

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

There’s also a cheaper option, with a one-year renewable residency costing 100,000 riyals.

The so-called premium residencies will allow foreigners to buy property and do business without a Saudi sponsor, switch jobs and exit the kingdom easily and sponsor visas for family members, according to the website for registrations.

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

The programme approved in May is the latest sign of how the quest for non-oil revenue is prompting Gulf nations to rethink the role of foreigners in their societies.

It’s a landmark move in a region where many overseas workers are subject to some of the world’s most restrictive residency rules. The United Arab Emirates approved a plan this year to allow wealthy foreigners to apply for a 10-year stay.

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.

While Saudi Arabia is seeking to encourage the affluent to stay, monthly fees imposed on foreign workers and their families, along with sluggish economic growth, have prompted hundreds of thousands of expatriates to leave. The levy is designed to spur private businesses to hire Saudi nationals.

The new permanent residency system could prove controversial among Saudis at a time when unemployment is at 12.5%, nationalism is surging and xenophobia is not uncommon. Slogans like “Saudi is for Saudis” are common on social media, and a recent opinion piece in a newspaper argued that the kingdom could deport all its Lebanese residents without consequence.


Saudi delays tax excise on sweetened drinks to December

Saudi Arabia has postponed a new excise tax on sweetened drinks, the The General Authority of Zakat and Tax has announced.

The 50 percent tax on sugar sweetened drinks and 100 percent tax e-cigarettes and the liquids used in them was due to be implemented on July 1.

But the General Authority of Zakat and Tax has announced that it will now come into effect on December 1.

The world’s largest crude exporter has introduced several new taxes and fees over the past few years as part of Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman’s economic transformation plan, which calls for boosting non-oil revenue.

Although crude still accounted for about two-thirds of the government’s earnings last year, non-oil revenue has been growing steadily.

It jumped 46 percent in the first quarter compared with the same period last year, largely due to higher income from taxes on goods and services, including the excise levy.

The kingdom began imposing the excise tax in 2017, applying a 50 percent levy on soda and 100 percent on energy drinks and tobacco. Separately, the government introduced a 5 percent value-added tax in January 2018

Mobility Management Middle East

Middle East:
Saudi Arabia

Ivory Coast

Other Countries: