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The Changing Landscape of Immigration in the Middle East

The Middle East is undergoing major changes that are impacting immigration and global mobility in the region. With global economic growth slowing, geopolitical tensions rising, and oil prices fluctuating, Middle Eastern countries are urgently working to diversify their economies away from a dependence on oil. These diversification efforts are creating new opportunities for foreign companies and workers, while also spurring updates to immigration policies.

In a recent The View From The Top Show, Fragomen's Julia Onslow-Cole provided the following immigration update:

A key development is the push for foreign companies to establish regional headquarters in Saudi Arabia. The Saudi government now requires foreign companies to have regional HQs in the country to qualify for major government contracts related to megaprojects and economic diversification. Additionally, the Saudis are offering very attractive incentives like 30-year tax breaks for qualifying regional HQs.

The drive to set up more regional HQs is increasing immigration and demand for global mobility support. Companies seeking to establish compliant operations in Saudi Arabia need to navigate still-complex regulatory regimes and provide appropriate visa strategies for transferring international staff.

Saudi Arabia has also recently announced new “premium residency” categories to attract investment and global talent. These 5 new residence types include options geared toward high-net-worth individuals, entrepreneurs, and technical experts. Unusually for the Gulf region, these visas provide a pathway to permanent residence in Saudi Arabia after 5 years.

Regional instability remains a backdrop challenging business operations and mobility. However, the pressing need for economic diversification and foreign expertise is powering more open and proactive immigration policies. The Middle Eastern regulatory environment remains complex, but the demand for global mobility is higher than ever. Companies that can effectively leverage talent across borders will find significant new opportunities arising in the Middle East.

Watch Julia's complete update here.

Michelle Curran
Created on 8-2-2024