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Saudi Arabia’s 5 new Premium residency categories

Reflection of Riyadh

The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia (KSA) has added five new categories to its Premium Residency offer. In line with the strategic plan of Vision2030, the Premium Residency Program (PRP) is a bid to attract global talent, including entrepreneurs, investors, and property owners.

The Kingdom has seen a steady increase in Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) over the past six years, reportedly expanding from SAR 27 billion in 2017 to SAR 122 billion in 2023. The PRP is part of that strategy, as it aims to increase FDI contributions to GDP from 3.8% to 5.7%.

The PRP was introduced in 2019, but it was restricted to only two categories: a permanent status purchased for SAR 800,000 ($213,000) or a renewable purchase at SAR 100,000 ($26,000) per annum. An expat holding the unique status grants residency to family members, opens up some business ownership opportunities without a partner, provides personal and family exemption from expatriate levies, includes visa-free travel to and from KSA, property ownership, and fee free transfer between businesses. The PRP was also extended to some of the executives of companies who have established their Regional Headquarters in KSA, as part of the Regional Headquarters (RHQ) Program.

In January this year, the Premium Residency Center announced these extra five categories:

  1. Special Talent residency: Two segments of Health and Scientific professionals including researchers, and executives. Valid for 5 years.

  2. Gifted residency: Candidates must be either nominated for or win exceptional awards or meet minimum eligibility criteria set by the ministries of Sports or Culture, along with financial solvency requirements. Valid for 5 years.

  3. Investor residency: Obtaining a commercial registration and relevant investment licence and willing to invest a minimum of SAR 7 million in the Kingdom and generate at least 10 jobs within the first two years. Achieves Permanent Residency.

  4. Entrepreneur residency: Divided into two categories

    1. Minimum investment of SAR 400,000 and a 20% stake in a startup. Premium Residency valid for 5 years.

    2. Minimum investment of SAR 15 million and creation of 10 jobs within the first year. Achieves Permanent Residency.

  5. Real Estate owner residency: Property ownership of real estate worth a minimum of SAR 4 million. Duration is fixed to real estate ownership.

Premium Residency holders are also exempt from counting towards Saudisation offsets under the Nitaqat program.

We're heavily invested in grasping the nuances of these change to policy, and we make a point of passing on information about factors that may affect our clients. We have previously reported on the pressures of high demand on a limited supply in the Saudi property market as more expats enter the Kingdom. As an example, for those interested in compound living, many waiting lists are being closed, and rents are being hiked in some cases more than 25%.

According to open-source reporting, a Knight Frank KSA survey has shown that the extension of Premium residency categories has prompted home-ownership demand among Saudi-based expats, with 77% now looking to buy a property. The survey also indicated a preference among expats for completed apartments over villas, with a potential demand from the white-collar workforce for giga-project properties, alongside notable interest in branded residences among higher-income brackets. A number of branded residences off-plan projects are already being exposed to the market, targeted specifically at the price that would make a buyer eligible for Premium Residency under the real estate criteria. While the survey only polled 241 expats, it is more evidence of the growing confidence of the Saudi market for FDI. It also demonstrates how programs like Premium Residency and Regional Headquarters are having a positive effect on the Vision2030 strategic objectives.

If you have any queries about the Premium Residency Program, or think you may be eligible, please don't hesitate to contact AEI Saudi.


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