If we were to see Saudi Arabia through Palestinian eyes, we would see a mixture of a repressive state with a lot of luxury of economic welfare and kings who sold out Palestine, al-Akhbar newspaper opined. As Riyadh is publicly pursuing an overt process to normalize ties with Tel Aviv and is showing a total submission to the US Administration in its bid to liquidate the Palestine question with the Gulf states to foot the bill, the timing of the new Saudi residency scheme seems to be inseparable from this overall plan.
The potential link between the two is particularly plausible since the new “privileged” residency permit scheme, which is very similar to the US green card style, would be applicable to native Palestinians (who are still living within the green-line of occupied Palestine and hence referred to as “Arab-Israelis” because they were forced to hold Israeli passports and IDs. In Arabic, however, they are known as the Palestinians of 1948, the year in which the occupation state was created).
It would take Saudi authorities about three months to finalize the executive rules and regulations needed for the enforcement of the new scheme. The draft law has already been approved by the Saudi Shoura Council and the Cabinet (Council of Ministers), with local media describing it as a measure aimed at “attracting entrepreneurs, investors and skilled expatriates”.
According to media sources, two categories will be offered: An extended iqama (residency permit) valid for an unlimited period, and a renewable one-year residency permit. The new ‘privileged’ residency schemeis reportedly meant to attract wealthy and highly-skilled expats, who would be granted residency permits without the need for a Saudi sponsor but they have to pay certain fees. According to some media outlets, the fees were reportedly fixed at around 26,000 dollars for the temporary one-year permit and at around 200 thousand dollars for the permanent residency permit.
The holder of a permanent residency permit will have family status, can recruit workers, own property and transport in the kingdom, can obtain visit visas for relatives, can freely enter and exit the country, can run businesses under certain conditions, and might also have the use of designated queues at airports.
“As a part of the on-going changes (a softened term for normalization) in relations between Riyadh and Tel Aviv, the new “privileged” residency scheme would allow native Palestinians (of the 1948) to work in Saudi Arabia, the Zionist business-focused “Globes” magazine said. According to this outlet, Saudi Arabia vies to attract the “highly-qualified” graduates of “Israeli” universities. The Saudi window, which has been open for millions of nationals from all Arab countries, would now be accessible to “Arab-Israelis” (i.e. the native Palestinians with Israeli passports and IDs as explained above).
According to Globes, these measures are a part of an economic plan expected to be approved by Saudi Arabia in the near future. The plan aims to attract foreign investors into the Kingdom to work, run businesses and perhaps assume high positions in big corporations.