Saudi Arabia: Admin's 'point'ed attack, expats confined to 8 yrs stay

Saudi Arabia
Riyadh, Jan 8: In order to control foreign unskilled labourer immigration, Saudi Arabia has introduced various clauses under the Nitaqat system. Much to the chagrin of the expats there, the new system (which is yet to be in place) will not allow them to stay beyond 8 years in the country. The move also highlights the country's increasing internal demand for jobs, which is jeopardized by foreign immigration.

Points that count

Rather uniquely designed, the Saudi administration has introduced point systems that does not go beyond a span of 8 years. These points also depend on the family members of the expats. For example a worker can earn a maximum of 3 points, which is inclusive of the number of years in the country and the number of family members he has. Here is how they are divided:

An expat with wife and two children: Considered as two foreign nationals together, the couple earns a point of 1.5 and will incur a quarter of a point for each child. However, this law will not be applicable for nationals like Palestinians who cannot be deported from the country.

Salary of 6,000 riyals or more: The worker will incur 1.5 points, exempting professionals whose degrees have been attested by Saudi authorities.

Expats with 4 years of lunar calender: Will incur 1.5 points, but will be calculated from the fifth year from the day of the receiving of the work permit by the ministry.

Five years or more: On completing five years, one will earn 2 points and six years will incur 2.5 points. On completing 7 years and at the beginning of the eighth year after receiving the work permit, one will incur 3 points.


Rather complicated, the new rule is criticized for its negative impact on the economy and the foreign workers residing here.

Agreed that a recent study showing unskilled workers staying for more years than skilled workers in Saudi Arabia got the administration worried, but this has not been received too well in the business and the investor domain also.

"The new labour regulations have already affected the profitability of businesses," said Rafeek Younus, who is the vice president and managing director of Saihati Group. He also added that the administration should revise its regulations to avoid a financial crackdown.

Ibrahim Badawood, managing director of ALJ Community Initiatives, said that the move is sending a wrong message to the businessmen and the investors, which is already reflecting on the profitability of the businesses in the country. He further added,"The move to discourage foreigners to bring their families is not a good idea."

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