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.

Work visas alloted by type/ sector of activity (temporary; private companies; governmental; domestic) (Saudi Arabia, 2004-2012)

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year Temporary visas Private companies Governmental sector Domestic sector Total
2004 61,184 423,172 24,821 355,395 864,572
2005 72,715 352,924 32,034 339,985 797,658
2006 65,600 716,347 42,149 441,247 1,265,343
2007 66,117 1,141,601 51,935 445,106 1,704,759
2008 50,756 1,191,204 70,924 495,885 1,808,769
2009 42,926 932,494 61,143 496,092 1,532,655
2010 61,530 1,061,717 68,297 565,537 1,757,081
2011 69,395 1,181,911 110,223 647,796 2,009,325
2012 79,966 1,586,532 125,909 828,425 2,620,832

Source: Ministry of Labour


1. Definitions


“Temporary or seasonal visas are alloted for short-term and limited employment duration, for example for the provision of sevices during the Hajj season in Makkah and Madina, or in agriculture.


2. Data collection methodology


The labour visa allows the worker to enter Saudi Arabia. It is issued by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

In order to employ workers from abroad, the sponsoring company must first file a “Block Visa” request with the Ministry of Labor, requesting pre-approval to sponsor foreign employees.

Once the Block Visa request is approved, the sponsoring company in Saudi Arabia should obtain a visa authorization number and an electronic power of attorney authorized by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in Saudi Arabia.

Foreign nationals may then apply for work visas through Saudi consular posts in their country of residence. Several documents are required before issuance of work visas, including medical certificate.

Therefore, work visas are more than the actual workers present in the country, as some eventually do not terminate the procedure, or are rejected at a later stage (entry visa; residency procedures…).


3. Institution which provides data


Ministry of Labour of Saudi Arabia


4. Data availability


Published in Ministry of Labour’s Statistical Yearbooks

MoL Yearbooks are available online at (2004-2012)

Date of access: December 2013.


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