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Last Updated:[14-07-2009 08:56:57 EDT] Zoom in Zoom out Back to Tradenews

Saudi Arabian Citizenship for Long-term Expats

tradenews According to sources, Saudi Arabia is understood to have informed the International Labour Organisation (ILO), the Geneva-based world labour body that it has plans of considering its expats into naturalization program. Abdullah Sadiq Dalhan, the Saudi representative to ILO stated the long-term expats above 25 years of residency in the GCC would be allowed to seek naturalization in the Saudi kingdom.

A naturalisation program was first discussed in October 2004 when it was announced that expats with degrees in medicine, computer science, and other branches of science and technology would be given priority for citizenship. At the moment, there is no data available to estimate how many people would be eligible for the latest program.

The legislation to naturalization process would help many expats to get free iqamas (work/residency permits) or permanent resident status outside the sponsorship system. The announcement is a relief to 6mn migrant workers of Saudi Arabia particularly since Bahrain is planning to bring residency cap on unskilled workers for a maximum of 5 years in any of the GCC states by 2010. Such a law would force about 13mn expats out of the GCC nations, and majority of them with their families are socially and culturally integrated to these countries.

But Dalhan’s statement did not toe the line of Bahrain while he said “The GCC countries and Saudi Arabia cannot dispense with foreign manpower in the foreseeable future”. He admitted that the long-term expats were deeply rooted to the society, and foreigners working under the sponsorship of Saudis ran more than half of the small establishments in the kingdom.

The GCC member states are highly reliant on migrant skilled as well as unskilled work force since most states have more than 70% expat workers. On the occasion, Dalhan told ILO that his country was committed to approve all labour laws except anything contradicts Shariah.

By Jose Roy

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