Gulf Labour Markets, Migration, and Population (GLMM) Programme

An international independent, non-partisan, non-profit joint programme of a major Gulf think tank and a globally renowned academic migration centre.
The programme provides data, analyses, and recommendations contributing to the improvement of understanding and management of
Gulf labour migration, population, and labour markets, engaging with and respecting the viewpoints of all stakeholder.

Saudi Arabia: Number of work permits issued by year (private sector) (2000-2016)

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Number of
labour permits
2000 2,439,672
2001 2,369,611
2002 2,663,666
2003 2,563,800
2004 2,716,573
2005 2,359,301
2006 2,541,083
2007 2,963,039
2008 3,598,317
2009 3,222,809
2010 3,345,630
2011 4,088,093
2012 4,811,095
2013 6,874,799
2014 7,524,326
2015 8,524,762
2016 8,254,915

Sources: Ministry of Labour
1. Data collection methodology

The issuance of the residency and work permits begins with filing an application with the Ministry of Labor.
After its approval, the Ministry of Labour forwards the application to the Ministry of Interior for the issuance of the residency permit.

2. Institution which provides data 

Ministry of Labour, currently Ministry of Labour and Social Development (MLSD) (

3. Data availability 

Published in Ministry of Labour’s Statistical Yearbooks
MoL’s Yearbooks until 2015 are no longer available on MLSD’s website.
MLSD’s Yearbook for 2016 has the figure of work permits delivered that year, as well as the “open data” section of the Ministry’s website (Arabic only):

Last date of access: 4 November 2018.

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