Saudi Arabia lifts travel restrictions on Umrah and Ziyarah (visit of Prophet’s Mosque) pilgrims which forbade them from moving outside Makkah, Madinah and Jeddah. The new Cabinet decision will allow millions of pilgrims arriving on Umrah visa to travel to any city across the Kingdom with ease.
Nearly 8 million Muslims performed Umrah this year and some two million pilgrims will arrive for performing Hajj from all over the world. Granting them permission to travel across the country will enable them to enjoy a broader experience of the Kingdom by visiting key landmarks, historic sites, tourist attractions and shopping centers, as well as boost tourism and uplift the Saudi economy.
Dr. Amr Al-Maddah, chief planning and strategy officer at the Ministry of Hajj and Umrah said, “Pilgrims will be allowed to arrive at any port in the country which will facilitate their arrival and expand the capacity to receive more pilgrims.” The decision will help towards achieving Saudi Arabia’s dream of receiving 30 million Umrah pilgrims by 2030.
Earlier, pilgrims were allowed to convert their visas to tourist visa provided that they were registered with a tourism program. This is no longer a requirement. Pilgrims can plan their visit to Saudi cities, tourist destinations, historic places, festivals and events, within the period of their visa validity.
Arab News – 16 July 2019
Saudi Arabia announced on Tuesday that businesses in the country have the option to remain open 24-hours a day. The decision indicates the efforts made by the government to support private sector and entrepreneurs by providing the best possible environment through amendment of regulations and legislation while simultaneously continuing the process of economic reforms.
Rules and regulations will be developed and put in place to govern the new move. It is expected that businesses will be allowed 24-hour trading in exchange of a particular fee. The Cabinet’s decision to allow all-day trading is expected to improve the quality of life in the Kingdom by raising levels of satisfaction among residents and creating new opportunities for the business sector, said Minister of Commerce and Investment Dr.Majid Al-Qassabi.
He thanked King Salman and Crown Prince Muhammed bin Salman for the new decision, and added that studies have shown that 24-hour trading can have positive effect on the macro economy of a country by increasing demand for goods and services, stimulating consumer spending and attracting capital investment, boosting leisure, tourism, transport and communication sector, and generating new job opportunities.
Arab News – 19 July 2019
Saudi Arabia’s Qiddiya Investment Company has revealed its master plan for Qiddiya, the Kingdom’s “Capital of Entertainment, Sports and Arts” as the government is focusing more on non-petrol revenue sources as part of its ambitious economic diversification program Vision 2030. The property will bring together the elements for an active, healthy and ambitious lifestyle, create a series of pedestrian-oriented episodes that encourage discovery, trail and enjoyment, and generate huge economic opportunity, lead to the development of new sectors and thousands of new jobs.
The 334 square kilometer entertainment city located 45 km from the capital city of Riyadh will offer cultural, sporting and entertainment activities and include training academics, desert and asphalt track for motor enthusiasts, water and snow activities, outdoor adventures and safaris. The development plan will cover only 30 percent of the land leaving majority of the majestic site dedicated for natural conservation. The property is organized around five primary development ‘nodes’ each with a unique purpose.
The ‘Resort Core’ with four gated-attractions will surround a central specialty retail, dining and entertainment district along with a portfolio of distinctive resort hotel offerings. Adjacent to it, a major outdoor entertainment venue capable of hosting 5,000 to 40,000 visitors will be constructed. It will also include skating and skiing facilities. The ‘Speed Park’ focused on motor sports will include tracks, showrooms, a driver’s club and a luxury hotel. The first phase of the giga-project will open in 2022 and feature Six Flags Qiddiya, along with separate water-oriented park.
The master plan, created by the company in collaboration with Denmark-based Bjarke Ingles Group, was created by carefully considering the natural patterns that has been etched on the site throughout history and will include a “green-belt” network that can carry visitors throughout the property on roads, bicycle pathways, and walkways.
Arabian Business – 27 June 2019
Saudi Arabia’s Human Rights Commission (HRC) said that children of Saudi women married to non-Saudi men have same rights to residency, work, education and medical treatment as children born to Saudi mother and father.
According to the commission, children of Saudi mothers and foreign fathers who live in the Kingdom have the right to be issued a permanent iqama (residence permit) and mothers can recruit them to the Kingdom if they are living outside. In such cases, the issuance and renewal of residence permits will be funded by the government.
These children will be treated as full-fledged Saudi citizens and can work in the private sector without transferring their iqama. Private companies will include them under the Saudi citizen category as well. However, they should possess ID cards to prove their credentials.
A Saudi wife can bring her non-Saudi husband living abroad to the Kingdom and can transfer his iqama on her if he wishes to do so. He will also possess the right to work for private establishments without transferring his iqama to the company. However, the husband should be able to produce a valid passport recognized by Saudi authorities and legal marriage documents to exercise these privileges.
Saudi Gazette – 25 June 2019
The Premium Residency Center (PRC) annnounced that holders of Permanent Premium Residency (PPR) cards can stay in the Kingdom for 60 days after the cancellation of their PPRs. Under special circumstances, the chief of PRC can extend their stay for a maximum of 180 days starting from the date of cancellation of PPR.
Individuals applying for PPR must submit a clearance certificate from their employers and if an employee decides to continue in his job for which he had been hired, then he should rectify his contractual status in terms of his rights and commitments.
The center added that PPR regulations do not specify any fees or taxes on remittances made by PPR holders.
Entering into a marital relationship with a Saudi women will not automatically entitle expatriates to get a PPR. Instead, they have to follow all procedures and fulfill necessary requirements to get a PPR.
The center clarified that children of PPR holders will not have any special privilege during school or university admission. Unlike Saudis, PPR holders cannot have visa-free entry to GGC countries.
Saudi Gazette – 25 June 2019