The new ‘dependent fee’ has set alarm bells ringing for millions of foreigners currently resident in the Saudi kingdom, including Pakistanis, Indians, Bangladeshis and Sri Lankans.
Hosts the largest diaspora of Pakistanis – about 2.2 million (2,200,000) – Saudi Arabia seeks to cut its huge budget deficit, which hit $79 billion last year.
The recent development, especially since the diplomatic isolation of Qatar, has made living and working harder in Saudi Arabia that was once a tax-free country.
The move has forced thousands of Pakistani families, especially the low-income and middle-class families, to plan their return to Pakistan under circumstances of uncertainty and unaffordability.
Reports coming from the kingdom suggest that people are selling out their households and evacuating flats and houses in a large number to leave the country.
“Nearly half of the people living with family have made up their minds to leave Saudi Arabia, thousands have sent their families home, anticipating financial hardships, while the remaining ones are surely waiting in a hope that the rulers will withdrawal this decision,” said a Riyadh-based Pakistani IT expert, who has been living there for last six years.