KSA’s green card plan for expats welcomed

Updated 24 April 2016
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KSA’s green card plan for expats welcomed

RIYADH: Saudi Arabia’s plan to issue permanent residence or “green cards” to foreign workers has been warmly welcomed by the expatriate community.

In an interview with Bloomberg, Deputy Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman disclosed plans for issuing such cards similar to the US green card system that allows hiring more foreign workers for a fee.
The plan will abolish the existing sponsorship system for holders, who will be required to pay zakat and value-added taxes, if any, besides premiums on insurance, etc. They can own property and undertake commercial, industrial and related activities.
“The plan is very welcome for those living here for over 40 years. I would also suggest that naturalization be given to those who have at least one child willing to serve in the armed forces in any capacity,” said Amir Qayyum, a business development executive from India.
“This is actually in recognition of the universal human rights of residency. We are glad to see the host government extending such a privilege to deserving expats,” said John Monterona, convener of the new OFW Forces Worldwide.
A senior systems engineer at Tawuniya, Saleh Ampaso Bucay, who has been working here since 1992, described the move as a dream come true.
“I am just like many other expatriates who have spent more than half of their lives in this country. All my children were born here. So it is really a great honor if this privilege of either permanent residence or a green card is granted to us,” Bucay observed.
He added that as a Muslim, it will also be a great opportunity to work hand in hand with the citizens in developing the country and protecting it from the enemies of Islam. “I love this country and would like to die and be buried here,” he said.
Gilbert G. Alarcon, senior ISO system auditor at Dar Arriyadh Consultants, said it is a good development as expats already consider Saudi Arabia their second home. “The feeling of acceptance in retrospect gives more meaning to an already fruitful partnership and cooperation between the citizens and expats.”
Rey Eduard Quiblat Umel, an architect and a project engineer, termed King Salman’s wisdom and vision “very exemplary.” The Saudi-Philippine partnership will increase by leaps and bounds, boosting the development of their peoples, he said.
“This will also help the Kingdom’s economy and increase its revenues. It will bolster their manpower without relying on oil,” said Jehad Zacaria Pangcoga, from the Philippines.


Exclusive: UAE mogul Khalaf Al-Habtoor calls for a boycott of US firms, execs. who pulled out of Saudi investment summit

Updated 15 October 2018
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Exclusive: UAE mogul Khalaf Al-Habtoor calls for a boycott of US firms, execs. who pulled out of Saudi investment summit

JEDDAH: In an Op-Ed column written exclusively for Arab News, UAE business tycoon Khalaf Ahmad Al-Habtoor has called for an Arab boycott of US companies and executives who have pulled out of Saudi Arabia’s upcoming Future Investment Initiative (FII) summit, or decided to freeze ongoing dealings with the Kingdom. 
A number of media companies, including Bloomberg, New York Times, CNN and CNBC have announced pulling out of the partnerships with the FII summit happening on Oct. 28 in Riyadh. This was in the aftermath of the mysterious disappearance of Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi, more than 10 days ago, who was last seen entering the Saudi consulate in Istanbul. 
Saudi Arabia has denied any involvement with his disappearance, and has sent a team to assist Turkish investigators to find out what happened to the Saudi. 
Khashoggi’s vanishing has caused many to blame Riyadh, given he had recently become a vocal critic of its leadership in a number of columns for The Washington Post, while living in the  US. 
Pulling out of the FII media partnerships, or executives, such as Uber’s Dara Khosrowshahi  cancelling their attendance, is unjustified, argued Habtoor, considering the investigation into the journalist’s whereabouts is ongoing.
The Emirati businessman also takes on London-based Virgin Group founder Richard Branson who suspended his negotiations on tourism projects in Saudi Arabia as well as discussions with the country’s Public Investment Fund.
“The Saudis’ Gulf Cooperation Council allies, as well as Egypt and Jordan, must stand shoulder to shoulder with Riyadh to show those companies they are not welcome to operate within our borders. They should be boycotted. Together we must prove we will not be bullied or else, mark my words, once they have finished kicking the Kingdom, we will be next in line. Now is the time to prove our loyalty and transparency toward each other,” the businessman said.
Al-Habtoor said he was “shocked” that the US Congress is pressurizing President Donald Trump to impose sanctions on one of America’s closest allies in the Middle East when the truth has not even been determined. He also condemned US media, government officials and lawmakers for rushing to judgement on an active investigation. 
“Last week, Saudi basked in America’s friendship. A single individual goes off the radar and Riyadh is targeted with warnings and threats from America’s political, financial and business sectors. Considering that the investigation is not yet over, if this is not gross overkill, then what is?” He said.