Saudi Arabia allocates $3.1bn to help private sector with expat fees

Reimbursements of expat fees will be especially valuable to labor-intensive sectors such as construction, one expert said. (Shutterstock)
Updated 10 February 2019
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Saudi Arabia allocates $3.1bn to help private sector with expat fees

  • Companies that had a higher or equal number of Saudi employees versus expats will be eligible for the reimbursement or waiver of fees
  • The government has allocated 11.5 billion riyals ($3.1 billion) for reimbursements under the decision

RIYADH: Saudi Arabia has approved a scheme to reimburse some of the companies that struggled to pay steadily increasing fees for expatriate work permits in 2017 and 2018 and waive the fee hikes for some who weren’t able to pay, the labor minister said.
The government has allocated 11.5 billion riyals ($3.1 billion) for reimbursements under the decision.
“This initiative will support private sector companies, help them overcome the obstacles and achieve their goals and encourage them to expand employment of Saudi citizens,” Labour Minister Ahmed bin Suleiman Al-Rajhi tweeted on Friday.
Only companies that had a higher or equal number of Saudi employees versus expats will be eligible for the reimbursement or waiver of fees, according to the decree. Companies with a lower number of Saudis compared to expats will benefit from the initiative only after they hire more locals, it said.
“The decision will have a huge positive impact on the Saudi economy and especially the manpower intensive construction sector, which was the worst hit by the collective invoice,” Osama Al-Afaliq, head of the Saudi Contractors Association, told Reuters.
In its fiscal balance program announced in 2016 and implemented in 2017, Saudi Arabia said it would gradually increase the fees for hiring expatriates and obtaining visas for their dependents to encourage companies to hire more Saudi nationals.
It also changed the system of payment from an annual work permit renewal to a one-time lump sum payment at the beginning of the year accounting for each foreign worker employed by the company — a so-called collective invoice.
The annual fee hikes, rising gradually to 2020, were seen as crucial to Riyadh’s plan to create more jobs and cut the unemployment rate.
Some 10 million foreigners are working in Saudi Arabia.


Air France to keep flying to Cairo

Updated 25 min 40 sec ago
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Air France to keep flying to Cairo

  • British Airways, a unit of IAG said on Saturday it was suspending flights to Cairo for seven days “as a precaution”
  • Germany’s Lufthansa later said it had canceled its flights to Cairo from Munich and Frankfurt and would resume its connection on Sunday

PARIS: Air France is maintaining its flights to Cairo, a spokesman for the airline said on Sunday, following the decision by rivals British Airways and Lufthansa to suspend flights to Egypt’s capital over security concerns.
British Airways, a unit of IAG said on Saturday it was suspending flights to Cairo for seven days “as a precaution” as it reviews the security of the airport in Cairo.
Germany’s Lufthansa later said it had canceled its flights to Cairo from Munich and Frankfurt and would resume its connection on Sunday.
“In liaison with the French authorities and the local authorities in Egypt, Air France has decided to maintain its service to Cairo,” Air France’s spokesman said in a written statement sent to Reuters.