Can expatriates own property in Saudi Arabia? This question arises in the minds of almost all the expatriates living in Saudi Arabia but only a few of them know the exact answers. Actually, the answer is not simple “Yes or No”. There are some points in the answer to this question which needs further elaboration and explanation. As a general rule of law, yes an expatriate can own a property in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia. But wait a minute, read till the end to unveil the hidden clauses of the rule.
It is said that every foreigner or Iqama holder can own property in Saudi Arabia either for business or residence purpose. Property here pertains to the land or already constructed building. However, there are some guidelines to be followed. The profession on the Iqama of the expatriate must be a suitable profession. So, what is a suitable profession? A suitable profession in this regard is only “Foreign Investor”. In other words, if you are working as an employee, just forget to own a house in the Kingdom. Chairman of JCCI’s real estate committee Muhammad Al-Amir said foreigners in Saudi Arabia can own properties only if the profession listed on their residence permit is a foreign investor. Only investors who get SAGIA license can have a profession of “Foreign Investor” on their Iqama.
Non-Saudis can also own property in Saudi Arabia if it is inherited to them. Many expatriates own property in Saudi Arabia as I think it was allowed earlier. Moreover, there are Saudis whose children could not get Saudi nationality so they are still treated iqama holders. All these people can own property in Saudi Arabia as it is inherited to them. They are not entitled to property rights if the property was linked to waqf and if the Supreme Council of Endowment has a supervisory role in it.
Expatriates cannot buy any property in the holy cities of Makkah and Madina. There has been so much discussion across the Shoura Board and Shoura persists that not giving permission to expatriates to own property in the Holy cities of Makkah and Madina is essential to maintain the Islamic interest. However, Non-Saudis have the right to lease property in Makkah and Madinah for two years and this can be renewed for similar periods of time. Saudis who buy land inside Makkah and Madinah for non-Saudis will be penalized according to Article 5 of the system with a fine that equals 25 percent of the total payments made to the seller and building expenses.
Permission from Ministry of Interior is required for this purpose. It takes around one month to get this permission from Ministry of Interior. They don’t permit it unless that applicant has strong financial condition and business in which he is engaged.
Even if the permission to buy a house in Kingdom of Saudi Arabia is given, would you buy a house here being an expatriate? I don’t think most of you will answer it as “Yes”. You don’t have any job security here. You don’t know, any year they can deport you decide not to renew your Iqama. If you don’t have any surety to live here, why would you buy a house here? If buying a house (investing money in KSA) permits an expatriate to stay in Saudi Arabia till the time property is existent, I think people will stop remitting their money back to home countries.