Saudi Arabia after the UAE Strategic shifts in the "naturalization" policies in the Gulf?


Saudi Arabia after the UAE Strategic shifts in the "naturalization" policies in the Gulf?


Under the title of Vision 2030, the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia decided to grant its citizenship to distinguished talents who can promote Saudi development and investment. The decision surprised many, as the kingdom has long been known for its strictness in this matter.

After the UAE announced its decision to naturalize a number of its residents, including qualified people, investors, and intellectuals, topping the list in the Gulf Cooperation Council countries, the British Economist magazine at the time, like several media outlets, suggested that several other Gulf countries would follow suit.

Not a short time passed after the Emirati decision, until Saudi Arabia surprised everyone by announcing a set of amendments and procedures to the Saudi residency and naturalization law, and decided more openness to those with distinguished expertise and competencies and investors, by granting them Saudi citizenship.

Experts and analysts believe that the Saudi move, and before it the UAE, indicates a new strategic direction for the Gulf countries, after decades of closure.

Saudi Arabia Naturalizes Talents
With the official approval of Saudi King Salman bin Abdulaziz, the Saudi authorities announced on Thursday, November 11, the opening of the door to naturalization of various legal, medical, scientific, cultural, sports and technical competencies that can provide added value to the country and promote the wheel of development.

This is in line with the "Vision 2030" announced by Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman in 2016, which aims to enhance the attractive environment in which human competencies can be invested and attract distinguished and creative people, according to what was stated by the Saudi Press Agency "SPA".

The decision is part of a set of procedures and amendments to the Saudi Residency and Naturalization Law, which the Kingdom recently launched, to further open up the energies and capital of various nationalities, which, according to Saudi experts and specialists, will contribute to diversifying the resources of the Saudi economy away from traditional oil sources.

Also in 2019, the kingdom decided to grant "premium residency" to wealthy foreigners, to further attract investors. At the time, the Saudi Minister of Commerce and Investment, Majid bin Abdullah Al-Qasabi, said in a media statement: "The Premium Residency System will enhance competitiveness and enable the Kingdom to attract investors and quality competencies."

According to what was announced by the official authorities in Saudi Arabia, naturalization will be based on nomination, and the door for submission of applications will not be opened, and accordingly, the most beneficial and most responsive to the development needs of the country will be chosen, according to their estimation.

In the same context, many sources confirmed that the sectors that will be targeted are mainly medicine, industry, energy, agriculture, geology, space, aviation, artificial intelligence, the Internet of things and other rare and required disciplines.

A Gulf track to boost the economy
Saudi Arabia was not the first Gulf country to take this step towards greater openness to talent, as it was recently preceded by the UAE, which decided to grant its citizenship to investors, talented and specialized scientists, doctors, engineers, artists, intellectuals and their families.

Thus, the UAE aspires to strengthen and develop its economy, attract investments to it, and attract competent and quality manpower, as experts and specialists confirm.

The Emirati decision, and after it the Saudis, drew the attention of many, who considered this an important strategic shift, because the two countries, like the rest of the Gulf Cooperation Council countries, are among the most closed countries, and the citizenship policy in these countries has always been strict and strict, although the number of their citizens does not exceed 30% in the best cases, compared to high percentages of other foreign communities residing there.

The State of Qatar has taken the same measure before, by targeting the naturalization of competencies in various cultural, sports and medical fields, especially during the siege period, to bypass the economic restrictions imposed on it.

As for Kuwait, in turn, it has attracted many talents since the seventies of the last century, achieving remarkable economic progress.

In light of the successive economic crises experienced by the Gulf countries, especially with the drop in oil prices, and in the face of regional challenges and geostrategic challenges, the UAE and Saudi Arabia are leading a real trend and path in breaking the Gulf closed circle, which has been characterized by it, and openness, in turn, to expertise and competencies.
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