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Friday, October 17, 2014

No permanent iqamas for Saudi-born expats

 (AN) - Kingdom-born expats will not be eligible for permanent residency permits (iqamas), according to a high-ranking official at the Directorate General of Passports. Col. Ahmed Al-Luhaidan, directorate spokesman, was refuting rumors circulating on social media sites alleging that expats who were born in the country would be able to reside here indefinitely.
"The directorate only issued temporary iqama cards to specific categories of Kingdom-born expats until procedures for acquiring regular iqamas are complete," said Al-Luhaidan. 

Many Kingdom-born residents are facing an imminent identity crisis because they have little affinity to their ancestral countries and yet are not regarded as Saudis. Still, a large percentage of second and third generation expats who were born and raised in the country feel they have a right to special privileges, such as the Saudi citizenship, while many feel they belong here because they speak fluent Arabic in the local dialect and have adopted the country's customs.

The sad reality for these long-standing residents, nevertheless, remains that labor inspection campaigns do not discriminate between expats who have been in the country for decades and those who have only been working in the country for a few years. More than 2 million of the country's nearly 10 million expats were born in the Kingdom and have spent their entire lives here. According to official figures published in 2009, over 14.4 percent of births in the Kingdom were registered to foreign parents and the majority of the one million Palestinians living in the Kingdom were also born in the country.

In addition, there are an estimated 30,000 third-generation Saudi-born Indians. Scores of Arab expats who say cannot fathom returning to their home countries because they say they have no real ties there, meanwhile, continue to face big obstacles in finding jobs. At the same time, rumors that Saudi-born expats may be considered as Saudis under the Nitaqat nationalization scheme has only made matters more confusing for these expats-in-limbo. The Saudi government has, however, granted certain privileges to the male children of Saudi women married to foreigners.

Boys born to Saudi women can now benefit from Saudi citizenship privileges and remain under the sponsorship of their mothers, making them effectively Saudi since they will have access to various public services, including education and health facilities, according to a decision taken by the Cabinet. More than 580 Saudi women are married to expatriates in the Makkah region, 543 in Riyadh and 490 in the Eastern Province. Approximately 2,000 Saudi women married foreigners in 2011, according to a recent statistical report released by the Ministry of Justice.
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