Pakistanis welcome ‘Privileged Iqama’ scheme

The green-lighting of the new residency scheme will be a game-changer for 2.7 million Pakistanis living in the Kingdom. (Shutterstock)
Updated 16 May 2019
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Pakistanis welcome ‘Privileged Iqama’ scheme

  • The green-lighting of the new residency scheme will be a game-changer for 2.7 million Pakistanis living in the Kingdom

ISLAMABAD: Pakistanis from all walks of life have expressed their excitement over the approval of the new “Privileged Iqama” scheme in Saudi Arabia, which will make it easier for them to live and do business in the Kingdom.

The green-lighting of the new residency scheme will be a game-changer for 2.7 million Pakistanis living in the Kingdom, giving those who can pay the right to live, work and own business and property.

“This is a very positive and long-awaited step,” Sehr Kamran, president of the Center for Pakistan and Gulf Studies, told Arab News. “It will give confidence to the expatriate community, especially investors, since many people have been losing their businesses to kafeels (local sponsors).”

Without a Saudi sponsor, a foreigner cannot do business in Saudi Arabia —  and even then, the sponsor must have control over the business, often leading to disputes.

“The biggest benefit (of the new scheme) is that Pakistanis who have been living there are aware of their language, and they can invest in small and medium sized businesses and employ other Pakistanis without relying on local partners,” Rizwan-ul-Haq, former ambassador to Saudi Arabia, told Arab News. 

“If mid-to-large scale businesses are assured of legal rights and a conducive environment, they would definitely move to Saudi Arabia. The educational and hospitality sector can boom,” he added.

Pakistan’s bilateral trade with Saudi Arabia stood at $1.871 billion in 2018 with exports amounting to $170 million and imports at $1.7 billion. Since 1971, Pakistani contributions toward the Kingdom’s economy have been nearly $6 billion.

In order to be eligible for the new scheme, expatriates must meet several criteria including having a valid passport, clean criminal record, financial solvency, and authentic credit and health reports.

Farhan Ahmed, who runs an Islamabad-based travel and tourism company, said Riyadh’s decision was encouraging for Pakistan’s business community.

“This is a very positive move. It gives hope to the business community to go and invest there without concerns over the protection of their investment,” he said.


Philippines’ Duterte loses patience, orders trash shipped back Canada

Updated 22 May 2019
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Philippines’ Duterte loses patience, orders trash shipped back Canada

  • Canada says the waste, exported to the Philippines between 2013 and 2014, was a commercial transaction not backed by the Canadian government
  • Canada has since offered to take the rubbish back

MANILA: President Rodrigo Duterte has ordered his government to hire a private shipping company to send 69 containers of garbage back to Canada and leave them within its territorial waters if it refuses to accept the trash, his spokesman said on Wednesday.
“The Philippines as an independent sovereign nation must not be treated as trash by other foreign nation,” Presidential Spokesman Salvador Panelo told a media briefing.
Canada says the waste, exported to the Philippines between 2013 and 2014, was a commercial transaction not backed by the Canadian government.
Canada has since offered to take the rubbish back and the two countries are in the process of arranging the transfer.
But Canada missed a May 15 deadline set by Manila to take back the shipment, prompting the Philippines to withdraw top diplomats from Canada last week.
“Obviously, Canada is not taking this issue nor our country seriously. The Filipino people are gravely insulted about Canada treating this country as a dump site,” Panelo said.
The Canadian embassy in Manila did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
The Philippines has made several diplomatic protests to Canada since a 2016 court ruling that the garbage be returned.
The consignments were labelled as containing plastics to be recycled in the Philippines but were filled with a variety of rubbish including diapers, newspapers and water bottles.
The issue is not the only one to strain ties between the two countries.
Last year, Duterte ordered the military to cancel a $233 million deal to buy 16 helicopters from Canada, after Ottawa expressed concern they could be used to fight rebels.