News / Middle East

Saudis Round Up Thousands of Illegal Immigrants

Foreign workers hold their passports as they gather outside a labor office, after missing a deadline to correct their visa status, in Riyadh,  Nov. 4, 2013.
Foreign workers hold their passports as they gather outside a labor office, after missing a deadline to correct their visa status, in Riyadh, Nov. 4, 2013.
Reuters
Saudi authorities rounded up thousands of illegal foreign workers at the start of a nationwide crackdown ultimately aimed at creating more jobs for locals, media reported on Tuesday.
 
Hundreds of thousands of workers have already left the kingdom following a grace period of seven months during which authorities told expatriates that if they did not fix their legal status they had to leave the country or face jail.
 
The government hopes that reducing the number of illegal workers will create opportunities for Saudi job-seekers. The official Saudi unemployment rate is 12 percent but excludes a large number of citizens who say they are not seeking a job.
 
However, the majority of the kingdom's nine million foreigners are unskilled laborers or domestic workers, jobs usually shunned by Saudis.
 
“Since early [Monday] morning, the security campaign got off to a vigorous start as inspectors swung into action,” Nawaf al-Bouq, a police spokesman, told Saudi Gazette newspaper.
 
Police carried out raids on businesses, markets and residential areas to catch expatriates whose visas are invalid because they are not working for the company that "sponsored" their entry into the kingdom.
 
For a second day on Tuesday parts of the capital Riyadh were unusually empty as many expatriates stayed at home to avoid potential arrest.
 
Challenge
 
Raising private sector employment in a country where most Saudis are in government jobs and where businesses employ more foreigners than locals is a major challenge for the kingdom.
 
Bouq told the paper that at least 1,899 illegal workers had been arrested in the Red Sea port city of Jeddah.
 
The paper also said police had arrested at least 2,200 people in the southwestern city of Samta, 379 in the Eastern Province and hundreds of others in other cities.
 
In Jeddah, dozens of Indonesian workers, mostly women, staged a sit-in to pressure the authorities to hasten their deportation, according to Arab News newspaper.
 
Many workers cannot leave the country because they lack official papers, including passports, the paper said.
 
The remittances sent home by expatriates in Saudi Arabia are often vital for their own nations, which include Yemen, Ethiopia, the Philippines, Indonesia, India, Pakistan and Egypt.
 
Saudi Arabia's mass expulsion of Yemeni workers in 1990 in retaliation for Sanaa's support of Iraq after it invaded Kuwait contributed to an economic collapse that accelerated the impoverished Arab country's 1994 civil war.
 
For decades, Saudi authorities ignored irregularities such as working for firms that had not sponsored their visas or in trades other than those listed on their immigration documents.
 
That spurred a black market in which foreigners overstayed visas, set up illegal businesses or took low-paid jobs in areas where authorities wanted Saudi workers hired on higher salaries.
 
This thwarted implementation of wide-ranging labor reforms to penalize companies for hiring more foreigners than locals.

You May Like

Video Snowstorm Sweeps Northeastern US

'This is nothing like we feared it would be,' New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio says; he had warned storm could be one of worst in city history More

Millions of Displaced Nigerians Struggle With Daily Existence

Government acknowledges over a million people displaced in 2014 due to fight against Boko Haram insurgency More

Facebook: Internal Error to Blame for Outages

Temporary outage appeared to spill over and temporarily slow or block traffic to other major Internet sites More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Obama Urges Closer Economic Ties During Historic India Visiti
X
Aru Pande
January 26, 2015 9:33 PM
U.S. President Barack Obama says the United States and India must do better to capitalize on untapped potential in their economic relationship - by removing some of the roadblocks to greater trade and investment. As VOA correspondent Aru Pande reports from New Delhi, Obama spoke after participating in India’s Republic Day celebration.
Video

Video Obama Urges Closer Economic Ties During Historic India Visit

U.S. President Barack Obama says the United States and India must do better to capitalize on untapped potential in their economic relationship - by removing some of the roadblocks to greater trade and investment. As VOA correspondent Aru Pande reports from New Delhi, Obama spoke after participating in India’s Republic Day celebration.
Video

Video US, EU Threaten New Russia Sanctions Over Ukraine

U.S. President Barack Obama has blamed Russia for an attack by Ukrainian separatists that left dozens dead in the port of Mariupol and cast further doubt on the viability of last year’s cease-fire with the Kyiv government. VOA’s Michael Bowman reports from Washington.
Video

Video White House Grapples With Yemen Counterterrorism Strategy

Reports say the U.S. has carried out a drone strike on suspected militants in Yemen, the first after President Barack Obama offered reassurances the U.S. is continuing its counterterrorism operations in the country. The future of those operations has been in question following the collapse last week of Yemen’s government. VOA White House correspondent Luis Ramirez reports.
Video

Video Kerry Warns Against Violence in Nigeria Election

US Secretary of State John Kerry visited Nigeria Sunday in a show of the level of concern within the U.S. and the international community over next month’s presidential election. Chris Stein reports.
Video

Video Zoo Animals Show Their Artistic Sides

The pursuit of happiness is so important, America's founding fathers put it in the Declaration of Independence. Any zookeeper will tell you animals need enrichment, just like humans do. So painting, and even music, are part of the Smithsonian National Zoo's program to keep the animals happy. VOA’s June Soh met some animal artists at the zoo in Washington. Faith Lapidus narrates.
Video

Video Worldwide Photo Workshops Empower Youth

Last September, 20 young adults from South Sudan took part in a National Geographic Photo Camp. They are among hundreds of students from around the world who have learned how to use a camera to tell the stories of the people in their communities through the powerful medium of photography. Three camp participants talked about their experiences recently on a visit to Washington. VOA’s Julie Taboh reports.
Video

Video Saudi, Yemen Developments Are Sudden Complications for Obama

The death of Saudi Arabia's King Abdullah and the collapse of Yemen’s government have cast further uncertainty on U.S. efforts to fight militants in the Middle East and also contain Iran’s influence in the region. VOA White House correspondent Luis Ramirez reports on the new complications facing the Obama administration and its Middle East policy.
Video

Video Progress, Some Areas of Disagreement in Cuba Talks

U.S. and Cuban officials are reporting progress from initial talks in Havana on re-establishing diplomatic ties. U.S. Assistant Secretary of State (for Western Hemisphere Affairs) Roberta Jacobson said while there was agreement on a broad range of issues, there also are some “profound disagreements” between Washington and Havana. VOA State Department correspondent Pam Dockins has the story.
Video

Video US, Japan Offer Lessons as Eurozone Launches Huge Stimulus

The Euro currency has fallen sharply after the European Central Bank announced a bigger-than-expected $67 billion-a-month quantitative easing program Thursday - commonly seen as a form of printing new money. Henry Ridgwell reports for VOA from London on whether the move might rescue the eurozone economy -- and what lessons have been learned from similar programs around the world.
Video

Video Nigerian Elections Pose Concern of Potential Conflict in 'Middle Belt'

Nigeria’s north-central state of Kaduna has long been the site of fighting between Muslims and Christians as well as between people of different ethnic groups. As the February elections approach, community and religious leaders are making plans they hope will keep the streets calm after results are announced. Chris Stein reports from the state capital, Kaduna.
Video

Video As Viewership Drops, Obama Puts His Message on YouTube

Ratings reports show President Obama’s State of the Union address this week drew the lowest number of viewers for this annual speech in 15 years. White House officials anticipated this, and the president has decided to take a non-traditional approach to getting his message out. VOA White House correspondent Luis Ramirez reports.
Video

Video S. Korean Businesses Want to End Trade Restrictions With North

Business leaders in South Korea are calling for President Park Geun-hye to ease trade restrictions with North Korea that were put in place in 2010 after the sinking of a South Korean warship.Pro-business groups argue that expanding trade and investment is not only good for business, it is also good for long-term regional peace and security. VOA’s Brian Padden reports.

Circumventing Censorship

An Internet Primer for Healthy Web Habits

As surveillance and censoring technologies advance, so, too, do new tools for your computer or mobile device that help protect your privacy and break through Internet censorship.
More

All About America

AppleAndroid