By Innovation-sa on August 8, 2019 in News
In a historic decision, Saudi Arabia announced that it will allow women to apply for and obtain passports as well as leave the country without securing the consent of a male relative.
The change was included in extensive amendments to laws governing travel documents, civil status, labor and social insurance approved by the cabinet this week and will become law from the end of August.
According to a statement from the Center for Government Communication, the new law will allow women over the age of 21 to travel independently without permission from a male “guardian”- husband, father, or other male relative, just as their male counterparts.
“The new regulations are history in the making,” said Kingdom’s first women ambassador to Washington Princess Reema Bint Bandar on Twitter. “They call for equal engagement of women and men in our society. It is a holistic approach to gender equality that will unquestionably create real change for Saudi women”.
By Innovation-sa on August 5, 2019 in News
The phase one construction of Saudi Arabia’s multi-billion dollar independent mega-city NEOM in the north-western region of the country is complete, and the second phase is set to be announced by the end of this year, revealed CEO Nadhmi Al-Nasr while addressing a crowd of over 160 diplomats at NEOM’s first ever beach sports events held at Gayal, the site of NEOM’s first commercial airport.
The first phase focused on economic concept, funding and road map of the development of the giga-project, while the second phase will include detailed plans for NEOM’s sixteen economic sectors and regions. The 26,500-square km mega city, unveiled by Crown Prince Muhammed bin Salman in 2017 will span across the coast of Red Sea and Gulf of Aqaba, spreading across Egypt and Jordan, making it the world’s first private zone to extend across three countries.
Backed by over $500 billion, the special zone will focus on advanced industries and technology, with robots being used for many services and power being generated solely from wind and solar energy. Pursuant to the goals of Vision 2030, the region will attract private and public investments and strive to become the most efficient destination in the world.
By Innovation-sa on July 25, 2019 in News
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
By Innovation-sa on July 22, 2019 in News
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
By Innovation-sa on July 14, 2019 in News
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
By Innovation-sa on July 9, 2019 in News
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
By Innovation-sa on July 2, 2019 in News
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
By Innovation-sa on June 27, 2019 in News
Ahead of the annual Hajj Pilgrimage, the Ministry of Hajj and Umrah has announced that expatriates, including those arriving via Haramain Train, will be banned from entering Makkah from Shawaal 25 until Dhul Hijjah 10. Expatriates arriving at the gateways of Makkah by any means of transport – cars, buses or trucks – will be banned from entering the holy city during these days.
However, expatriates who are living in the region or are working there during the Hajj season can enter the holy city but must obtain necessary travel permits from the pertinent authorities. The measure comes in line with the royal order banning expatriates from entering the holy city of Makkah from Shawwal 25 every year except individuals living in the region or working there during the season.
Also, the Ministry has announced that electronic issuance of Umrah visas was stopped on June 17, and pilgrims who were issued visas before June 17 would be allowed to enter the Kingdom until July 2.
Saudi Gazette –
By Innovation-sa on June 19, 2019 in News
Saudi Arabia is on track to outpace India and take first position in the ETF ranking this year. The ETF ranking tracks flows into exchange-traded funds of developing countries. For the past three years, Saudi Arabia had been behind China and Brazil.
India and Saudi Arabia are leading ranking for ETF net inflows this year with new money invested in ETFs in India at $2.5 billion and Saudi Arabia at $2.2 billion. If the net inflows for the last three months are considered alone, the Kingdom is already on top of the chart, with India following.
Moreover, inflows to Saudi shares are expected to expand quickly as MSCI Inc. and FTSE Russell are preparing to add some of Saudi Arabia’s biggest companies to their main emerging-market benchmarks in the coming months. The two main global index compilers started their upgrade in March, and is scheduled for completion in 2020.
The London-traded Invesco MSCI Saudi Arabia UCITS ETF, the largest ETF tracking Saudi shares, had net inflows of near $910 million in May, the most for a month since its inception last year, boosting its net for the year to $1.4 billion.
Bloomberg – 11 June 2019
By Innovation-sa on June 13, 2019 in News
Saudi Arabia’s economic growth is expected to pick up further this year despite threats due to global economic slowdown and its possible impact on the oil market, the Kingdom’s Central Bank said.
Reports published by the Saudi Arabian Monetary Authority (SAMA) noted that the Kingdom’s economic growth recovered to 2.2 percent in 2018 in comparison to a 0.7 percent decline the previous year. The growth was triggered mainly by the oil sector, which progressed 2.9 percent while the non-oil sector grew by 1.7 percent in 2018, compared to 1 percent in 2017.
The growth of the Kingdom’s non-oil sector is expected to be stimulated by expansionary fiscal policy as the budget for 2019 shows a significant increase in capital expenditure by SR245 billion, the report said.
The country’s non-oil revenues rose 90 percent in 2018 compared to the previous year and reached SR287 billion, with more than half coming from tax revenues, while government expenditure rose by 11 percent to SR1 trillion in 2018.
Bloomberg – 02 June 2019