Abu Dhabi-based Indian retail tycoon MA Yusuff Ali has become the first Indian to receive Saudi Arabia's premium residency.
Ali, 64, is the chairman of the LuLu Group which owns and operates more than 35 hypermarkets and supermarkets in Saudi Arabia, which includes ARAMCO Commissaries and National Guards super stores. Ali had also received the UAE's first Golden Card residency visa in June 2019.
The Indian businessman was ranked the richest expat in the UAE by Forbes magazine last year.
Calling it a very proud and humbling moment in his life, Ali said it was a great honour not only for him but for the entire Indian expat community and added, “I sincerely thank HM the King Salman, HRH Crown Prince Mohamed bin Salman and the government of Saudi Arabia."
Ali said he was sure that this new permanent residency initiative will further boost Saudi Arabia's image as one of the key investments and business hubs of the region as well as attract and retain new investors.
Receiving the Kingdom’s premium residency, informally referred to as the Saudi Green Card, grants the expatriate the right to live, work and own business and property in the Kingdom without the need for a sponsor.
The Premium Residency was introduced as part of Saudi Arabia's Vision 2030 reform plan, announced by Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, which aims to boost the Saudi economy.
The plan targets key investors and prominent personalities from various fields, including sports, arts & culture, who have played a defining role in the nation building process.
The scheme was approved by the Saudi cabinet in mid 2019 after which an online portal to apply was opened to the public.
Aimed at attracting wealthy and high-skilled expats, the residency scheme offers two types of residencies, a permanent one for 800,000 Saudi riyals (USD 213,321.96) and a one year but renewable residency for 100,000 Saudi riyals (USD 26,665.24).
Currently over 10 million expats work and live in Saudi Arabia under a system that requires them to be sponsored by a Saudi employer and be issued an exit and re-entry visa whenever they want to leave the country.