The 5 decisions that changed life in Saudi today

Sunday saw the introduction of a set of five decisions that will change life for everyone in Saudi

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Saudi Arabia started on Sunday the implementation of the new visa fees. Under the new scheme, the fee for a single entry visa into the kingdom is 2,000 Saudi Riyals. But the fee is waived if the visitor is entering Saudi Arabia for the first time to perform pilgrimage or Umrah.

Expatriates living in the kingdom now have to pay SR 200 for a single trip out of the country. The visa is valid for two months, and every additional month, within the duration of the expatriate’s residence permit, costs SR100, the Directorate General of Passports said.

The new amendments have been introduced to visa fees in Saudi Arabia, decided last month by the cabinet to boost non-oil revenues. Most notably, the changes will see all visa fees completely waived off - and fully paid for by the Saudi government - for all first-time pilgrims coming for either Hajj or Umra.

The newly introduced fee structure includes a single-entry visa that will cost travelers 2,000 Saudi Riyals ($533), applicable to all visitors, except first time pilgrims.

A six month multiple-entry visa will now cost 3,000 Saudi Riyals (SR), a one year multiple-entry visa will cost SR5000, while a two year multiple-entry visa will cost SR8000. The Saudi Cabinet has also made it clear that these changes will not impact any bilateral deals already signed by Saudi Arabia and other countries.

As for transit visas, their new fee will be SR300. Exit visa fees for anyone leaving the Kingdom through its seaports will be SR50. These revised fees came into force from 2 October 2016.

Meanwhile, “exit and re-entry” visa fees for residents will be SR200 for a single trip for two months. SR100 will be charged for each additional month till the validity of residence permit (iqama).

Exit and re-entry visa fee for multiple trips will be SR500 for three months. SR200 will be charged for each additional month till the validity of residence permit.

The Cabinet approved amendment to Article 69 of the Traffic Law so as to make stunt driving a traffic offence for which violators will face the seizure of vehicle for 15 days and a fine of SR20,000 for the first offence.

For second violations the seizure of vehicle increases to 30 days, with a fine of SR40,000. In both cases, the violator will be referred to the court to consider jail terms.

For third violations, the vehicle will be seized and a fine of SR60,000 will be issued - the violator will be referred to the court. The seizure or confiscation of the vehicle will not be applicable to rented or stolen vehicles.

The Cabinet also approved amendment to the Article 70 by which anyone who takes and uses the driving license or vehicle registration card (istimara) of another person, or uses it for a mortgage will face a fine of not less than SR1,000, but no more than SR2,000.

A royal decree announced the cut in ministers’ pay. Housing and car allowances for members of the appointed Shoura Council will be cut by 15 percent.

Overtime bonuses were curbed at between 25 and 50 percent of basic salaries, while annual leave may no longer exceed 30 days.

An exception will be made for troops involved in combat along the southern border and abroad as part of an 18-month military intervention led by Saudi Arabia in neighboring Yemen.

Under a new decision to base public sector salaries on the Gregorian calendar, employees will lose 11 days of payment.

The decision to switch from the lunar-based Hijri calendar took effect from October 1, bringing the public sector in line with the way private sector employees are paid.

The Hijri calendar is made up of 12 months of 29 or 30 days depending on the sighting of the moon, and the year is usually 354 days, 11 days shorter than the Gregorian calendar.

Today, other decisions to take place include the removal, modification and ending of some allowances, bonuses and other financial advantages.

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