Future of expats in Saudi Arabia

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Apr 22, 2018 

Al-Riyadh newspaper

IN his interview with the Time magazine recently, Crown Prince Muhammad Bin Salman, deputy premier and minister of defense, spoke about the future of foreign workers in Saudi Arabia. His statement confirms, beyond any doubt, that the Saudi government and people respect foreigners and appreciate their contributions as well as the Kingdom’s continuous need for expat workers to carry out its future development projects.

During his talk, the Crown Prince pointed out that there are more than 10 million foreigners in Saudi Arabia, including families of expat workers. We believe that this number will not decrease, but will increase with the passage of time, because we believe that Saudi Arabia will require more human resources in order to achieve its ambitions. As a result, more job opportunities would be created for Saudis and expatriates to implement massive development projects to build Saudi Arabia.

In my opinion, Prince Muhammad’s statement about the future of foreigners in Saudi Arabia and its requirement for more foreign manpower to implement big projects dispels wrong perceptions and misconceptions, including the anxiety of some foreigner workers that the Kingdom wanted to get rid of them, especially when the government imposed new dependent fees on their family members.

We should know that these economic measures, which can be called reforms, were aimed at giving private companies additional incentives to employ more Saudis. They were not at all aimed at driving out foreigners from the country.

Most foreigners have been worried about their future, especially after the government launched a campaign titled “A nation without violators,” which was actually aimed at giving foreigners an opportunity to correct their legal status in the country, especially for expats who have violated the Kingdom’s residency and labor regulations.

Such a campaign was essential for the Kingdom to make sure the legitimacy of expatriate workers who live on its territory. The presence of illegal aliens in any country would increase the number of beggars as well as illegal transfer of money to their countries and the spread of illegal cover-up businesses. Illegal expats will also hike unemployment rates among Saudi men and women.

The Kingdom’s move to give green cards to foreigners as promulgated by its Vision 2030, is another proof of its positive stand welcoming foreigners and their stay in the country. The green card will provide expats many benefits in addition to permanent residency.

Crown Prince Muhammad Bin Salman’s interview with Time magazine, making positive comments on the future of foreigners in Saudi Arabia and the Kingdom’s need for more expat workers to help implement future development programs and initiatives, once again emphasize the Kingdom’s need for more skilled foreigners.

The Vision 2030 unveiled by the Crown Prince aims to make Saudi Arabia a regional economic powerhouse. Consequently, the Kingdom will require thousands of skilled foreign workers to carry out its ambitious welfare and development projects. These highly qualified expats would be an added value to the economy and they would not constitute any burden on the state, its economy and market.

This article was first published in the Saudi Gazette


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