Saudi Arabia’s Labour and Social Development Minister has issued a Decision cancelling the yellow band under the Nitaqat system. All companies which fell under this band will now be transferred to the red band. The Decision will come into force on 28 December 2019. The aim is to encourage businesses to increase Saudisation rates.
Saudi Arabia signs new agreement to nationalize thousands of jobs in the industrial sector. The Ministry of Labour and Social Development, represented by its deputy minister, Abdullah Abu Thunain, signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU) with the Ministry of Industry and Mineral Resources, the Technical and Vocational Training Corporation, the Saudi Human Resources Development Fund, and the Council of the Saudi Chambers.
The MoU establishes a partnership aimed at raising Saudization rates and promote the private industrial sector by nationalizing over 35,982 jobs in the industrial sector by 2021, after activating programmes and incentives supporting employment and training of nationals.
Saudi Aramco has published its Initial Public Offering prospectus. The prospectus states it will sell 0.5% of its shares to Saudi nationals, qualifying resident expatriates and GCC citizens. 1 billion shares will be available to private shareholders. However, the prospectus does not contain any information on the total percentage of the company which will be sold, the level at which the shares will be priced and an estimate of the total value of Aramco. Various groups will now travel across Saudi Arabia, the wider Gulf region and elsewhere around the world to ascertain how much support there is for the Initial Public Offering. This process will start on 17 November and will close on 28 November for individual investors and 4 December for institutions. Private investors who buy shares and who hold them for at least six months after trading begins in December, will receive bonus shares up to a total of 100 shares.
First Cooperation Agreement Between Saudi Arabia’s Monetary Authority and Dubai’s Financial Services Authority
Saudi Arabia’s Monetary Authority has signed its first cooperation agreement with Dubai’s Financial Services Authority. It was signed by the Agency’s Governor, Ahmed Al-Kholifey and the Authority’s Chairman, Saeb Eigner. It is aimed at strengthening mutual cooperation in banking and insurance activity supervision. It will also facilitate the exchange of information and oversight of institutions supervised by the respective authorities in Saudi Arabia and the Dubai International Financial Centre. In addition, it will allow secondments for employees from both the Authorities to the other.
Saudi Arabia’s Energy Minister has announced the Kingdom is considering introducing a carbon trading system in the country. It will be aimed at reducing greenhouse gas emissions. This kind of scheme involves a cap-and-trade system or credits which pay for or offset greenhouse gas reductions.
Foreign nationals seeking short-term work authorisation in Saudi Arabia are currently unable to obtain a Work Visit Visa, following an unexpected decision by immigration authorities to replace the Work Visit and Commercial Visit Visas with a uniform Visit Visa for Business.
The Ministry of Foreign Affairs’ electronic system used by visa sponsors to obtain visa invitation letters continues to allow applicants to choose between Work Visit and Commercial Visit Visas. Despite having a visa invitation letter for Work Visit Visas, applicants are issued Visit Visa for Business with the notification ‘not permitted to work’. This appears to be a practice in Saudi consular posts and visa service centres around the world.
Saudi immigration and labour authorities have not issued any formal notification withholding the issuing of Work Visit Visa which, until now, was the only immigration authorisation for foreign nationals seeking short-term work in the Kingdom.
With immediate effect, there is no option available for foreign nationals travelling to Saudi Arabia for short-term work other than the standard Work Visa, which triggers a formal long-term employment relationship with a sponsoring company in Saudi Arabia.
It remains unclear what is permissible and prohibited under the uniform Visit Visa for Business, including whether visitors can conduct hands-on technical activities, or if they are limited to performing ‘light’ business activities only (including meetings). It is also unclear whether Saudi immigration and labour authorities have made any provisions for foreign nationals seeking short-term work in the Kingdom, considering the only authorisation of this kind is no longer available.
According to local newspaper reports, women will be allowed to join the Saudi army for the first time. The Defence Ministry has approved the change which will allow women to enlist in ranks between private soldier to sergeant. They will be able to enlist in the army, air force, navy, air defences, missile forces and medical services. It follows a move last year to allow women to join the security services including drug combat, prisons and criminal investigations.
The Saudi Commission for Tourism and National Heritage has announced it will issue the first ever tourist visas in the Kingdom. The visas will cost 300 Riyals with an additional travel insurance cost of 140 Riyals. They will be issued from today to nationals of 49 countries from Europe, Asia and the US, Canada, Australia and New Zealand.
While the dress code requirement for foreign women will be relaxed to remove the requirement for them to wear the abaya robe they will still have to wear ‘modest clothing’. Non-Muslims will also still not to be allowed to visit the Mecca and Madinah and the ban on alcohol will not be lifted.
Historically visas were only issued to pilgrims, business people and expatriate employees. They will be valid for 360 days from their issued date for stays of up to 90 days up to a maximum of 180 days annually.
According to Okaz Saudi Arabia is putting the final touches to a “game changing” initiative to attract international tourists, with a visa scheme which will allow visitors to come to the Kingdom from up to 50 countries. Although not officially confirmed a government an event to showcase Saudi tourist attractions is to take place on 27 September and it is expected the formal launch will happen then. According to Okaz the visas will cost 440 Riyals and last 90-days. It has also been said tourists will be able to apply for these visas online or on arrival in the country.
Saudi Arabia’s Public Prosecutor has announced the first female Public Prosecution Investigators have been appointed. The Public Prosecutor made the announcement at their headquarters. More women are expected to be appointed as public prosecution investigations soon. These employees will have to undertake a full-year diploma course in criminology which includes academic studies and training in the relevant field. They will also have to visit agencies engaged in collecting evidence like forensic experts to find out more about these aspects of the cases.