Saudi cabinet approves new expatriate residency scheme

Saudi Arabia’s cabinet approved a “green card”-style residency scheme on Tuesday, which allows expatriates to get permanent residency in Kingdom for the first time. (Shutterstock/File Photo)
Updated 16 May 2019
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Saudi cabinet approves new expatriate residency scheme

  • Privileged Iqama system offers benefits to highly skilled expatriates and owners of capital funds
  • Different from existing iqama system, because residents would not require Saudi sponsor

RIYADH: Saudi Arabia’s cabinet approved the “Privileged Iqama” residency scheme on Tuesday, which allows expatriates to live and work in the Kingdom without the need of a local sponsor (Kafeel) for the first time.

Plans for the scheme were discussed and rubber-stamped earlier this month by the Shoura Council.

The new Privileged Iqama system offers benefits to highly skilled expatriates and owners of capital funds.

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It is different from the existing iqama system, because residents would not require a Saudi sponsor or employe. 

The new residency scheme — commonly referred to as the Saudi “green card” — was first mentioned by Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman nearly three years ago as part of the ambitious Vision 2030 plan to open up the kingdom and diversify its economy.


Mamdouh Saif, Saudi-born musician, composer and producer

Updated 20 August 2019
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Mamdouh Saif, Saudi-born musician, composer and producer

Mamdouh Saif is one of the most popular Arabic music composers. 

The 52-year-old, born in Saudi Arabia, is a composer, pianist and music producer.

He rose to fame through his partnership with Abdulmajeed Abdullah in 1990, when Saif became the keyboard player for the singer.

In 1994, he composed for Abdullah for the first time, and since then he has acted as a producer, artistic supervisor and music consultant.

In 2005, Saif visited India and said it changed his view on life. He launched his solo career in 2006, and furthered his studies at the Berklee College of Music in the US.

Some of Mamdouh’s most popular works include Ya taib Algalb (1996) and “Harmony” (2014).

He has also composed an album to accompany a science-fiction novel written by Ahmad Al-Aidroos, with each piece of music accompanying a specific part of the literature.

Recently, the Ministry of Culture’s Quality of Life Program announced it will set up academies, including two in the next two years, offering academic qualifications and enlarging  the Kingdom’s footprint in heritage, arts and crafts, and music.

The composer called these music academies “the core of music production and talent development in Saudi Arabia,” adding that the music industry was a large and diverse field and education in it was crucial.