Hike in Saudi visa fees could im­pact busi­ness

Kuwait Times - - BUSINESS -

RIYADH: A seven-fold hike in visa fees to do busi­ness in Saudi Ara­bia risks de­ter­ring the for­eign in­vest­ment needed to trans­form its oil-de­pen­dent econ­omy, diplo­mats and other sources say. But a se­nior Saudi busi­ness leader has dis­missed such con­cerns, in­sist­ing the coun­try’s most sought-af­ter busi­ness part­ners could eas­ily af­ford the new charges. “It’s in­cred­i­bly short-sighted,” a Riyadh-based diplo­mat said of the changes which took ef­fect this month.

“They’re ob­vi­ously bleed­ing and they want to put the cost on for­eign­ers as much as they can,” he said, ask­ing for anonymity. “It’ll end up cost­ing them a lot more than what they gain in visa pay­ments.”

Higher visa fees are one of many moves adopted by the king­dom to cover a loss in oil rev­enue which has slumped by 68 per­cent over the past five years, ac­cord­ing to of­fi­cial data cited by Bloomberg News. But the higher cost of en­try per­mits has left peo­ple “scratch­ing their heads”, a sec­ond diplo­mat said. “We are ex­pect­ing to see busi­ness re­con­sider Saudi as a mar­ket,” said the West­ern en­voy. “It’s cer­tainly hap­pen­ing al­ready,” though not in a ma­jor way. Start­ing in Oc­to­ber, a six-month busi­ness or work-visit visa al­low­ing mul­ti­ple en­tries costs 3,000 riyals ($800), com­pared with 400 riyals be­fore, said Ala Siyam, gen­eral man­ager of Gulf Con­sult­ing House.

The con­sul­tancy, in Kho­bar on the Gulf coast, as­sists clients from more than 40 coun­tries in se­cur­ing visas to Saudi Ara­bia, which re­quires all for­eign­ers to have a lo­cal spon­sor, whether to visit on hol­i­day or busi­ness. — AFP

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from Kuwait

© PressReader. All rights reserved.