'Green Card' For Expats A Strategic Plan
19 April 2016
By Khaled Almaeena
THE ''green card'' plan disclosed by Deputy Crown Prince Muhammad Bin Salman,
second deputy premier and minister of defense, in an interview with Bloomberg,
has been welcomed by many expatriates. The plan will help expatriates ease
away from the tight hold of sponsors, many of whom have been exploiting both
white and blue-collar workers. Though the modalities of how to attain this
''green card'' needs to be framed carefully, there are essentials that the
future card holders will be required to do or get once obtaining the card.
They'll have to pay zakat and value added tax, and they can own property and
undertake commercial, industrial and other related activities.
The plan was welcomed by expatriates especially who have been in the country
for three or four decades and whose children were born and bred in the
Kingdom. One Indian told me ''this is home''. A Filipino engineer living in
Riyadh since 1988 said that with the plan more cohesion between expatriates
and nationals will evolve.
Over the years, I have been writing on the contribution of expatriates to the
Kingdom. I was privileged to be in contact with them due to my stint as editor
in chief of both the English language dailies from 1982 to 2014. They (the
expatriates) would approach us to voice their grievances, fears, aspirations
and quest for justice.
Working in a foreign land, braving heat and cold and at times being subjected
to harsh treatment by heartless sponsors their only voice were the
English-language media outlets in the Kingdom. Many, after years in the
Kingdom, did aspire to gain a residential status in Saudi Arabia. Some did
propose similar systems whereby the Saudi government would be the sponsor.
Even Arab expatriates would write to us expressing their problems and their
Our editorials reflected our belief that this country is a heaven for all who
live and participate in its development irrespective of their caste or creed.
This was the philosophy of its founding father King Abdul Aziz.
With great changes happening all over the world and globalization at its
highest peak we too should avail of the expertise available. The greatness of
America, an already advanced nation, was enhanced by the acceptance and
inclusion of Asians who came and added value to the economic and social
system. We too can gain from their system. As we try to boost our non-oil
sector we would be requiring all available experienced hands.
Yes, Saudization is a goal but we can't implant bodies in systems that require
a high caliber of professionalism. Many tactics have to be improvised in order
that a total strategic plan is evolved for competing in a highly competitive
and fierce business environment. The ''green card'' plan is one of them.
— The writer is Editor-at-Large. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org
and followed on Twitter: @KhaledAlmaeena