DUBAI, United Arab Emirates -- The Saudi government has approved for the first time a scheme that gives permanent residency to certain expatriates, allowing them to own real estate in the kingdom and reside with their families without a Saudi sponsor.
The decision, approved by Saudi Arabia's Cabinet and announced on Wednesday, is aimed at attracting long-term investments as the government tries to diversify the economy and boost domestic spending.
The "Privileged Iqama" system will offer a permanent residence scheme and one that can be renewed annually to highly skilled expatriates and owners of capital funds. Further details and rules about the program are not yet announced.
Officials say they hope the decision will attract more investors and entrepreneurs to Saudi Arabia to help drive private sector growth and expand employment opportunities for Saudis.