By Courtney Trenwith
New charge for dependents including a maid or children was implemented as thousands leave for holidays
Expatriates in Saudi Arabia have been stung with new charges for having dependents including a maid, driver, wife or children.
The new fee came into effect on July 1 and caught some expats leaving the kingdom for summer holidays by surprise, according to local media.
Expats will have to pay SR1,200 ($320) per dependent each year. The fee is payable either at the time of the dependent’s visa renewal, or when they seek a visa to exit and re-enter the kingdom, such as for holidays abroad.
The charge was implemented as thousands of people began departing the kingdom to avoid the scorching summer months.
It is part of the kingdom’s budget shake-up to fill a burgeoning deficit due to sustained lower oil prices. The dependents’ fee is expected to raise $260m annually.
Critics have suggested the additional financial burden on expat families will make the kingdom less attractive for professionals. Authorities are also attempting to reduce the number of expats working in the kingdom by encouraging more locals to join the private sector.