— This is the script of CNBC's news report for China's CCTV on June 24, 2019, Monday.
We know that the Middle East countries are highly dependent on overseas workers. For example, according to data released by the United Nations, in 2017, 37% of Saudi Arabia people are immigrants, and this number in UAE is 88.4%. However, these countries have always had a strict immigrant policy. So, now Saudi opening up or it can be seen as "selling" this PR application is an additional access for people who want to immigrate to there.
Actually, Saudi prince Salman proposed the idea of opening op PR to foreigners in 2016, and this proposal is part of his plan to reduce dependence on the oil industry and prompt foreign investment to carry out economy reform. According to his plan, the whole new economy reform will generate around $1M revenue per year till 2020, and the foreign immigrants attracted will also bring respectable revenue.
Apart from PR, foreigners have another option that is renewable residency, it costs 100,000 Saudi riyals, an eighth of the price of a permanent residency application.
UAE approved a plan of allowing rich foreigners to apply 10-years residency and Qatar also passed a law which will grant part of foreigners PR. Analysts think that hundreds of thousands of people have left the Gulf States since petroleum price dive, the Gulf States have seen heavy capital outflows and the local economy grows slow. So, a more opening immigrants policy in the Gulf states is meant to encourage the rich to stay, meanwhile, stimulate local private business market, driving employments.
But the local may be not happy with the open immigrant policy. Currently, unemployment rates in Saudi Arabia has reached 12.5% in the 1st quarter this year, "selling" PR may spark controversy among the Saudi locals on backdrop of increasing uncertain geopolitics and growing nationalist sentiment. We will keep an eye on this issue.