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Saudi Arabia

High muaqqib fees anger expatriates

Many expatriates expressed their resentment at the high amount of money charged by muaqqibs — agents who have the power of attorney to push paperwork at government agencies and departments. Foreigners generally take their help to file their papers with the Passports Department.
Expats complain they are now charged more than SR 500 for renewal of an iqama (residency permit). Some expats say muaqqibs are exploiting the situation of expatriates and their need for the renewal of residency papers.
Mustafa Shabaan, a Syrian national working in the private sector, said: “Each time I renew the iqama the man (muaqqib) asks for higher fees. I have five sons and daughters and they are all in school, so I pay SR 500 for the Iqama renewal of each of them.”
Abu Nawwaf has been a muaqqib for five years.
“There are several factors governing how much money a muaqqib would charge a client including the season,” he said. “During holidays, a muaqqib would be in much demand from expatriates,” he said. “Another factor is the type of paperwork and how complicated it is in terms of the government agency’s procedures,” he said, adding that muaqqib's fees can exceed SR 500 in many cases.
Mustafa Aziz, an Egyptian working in a contracting company in Jeddah, said that despite their high fees, “their role is essential in facilitating expatriates' affairs in Saudi Arabia. They take care of many residency related transactions.”
Many expatriates and Saudis think that going to government departments to have their documents processed is exhausting, time-consuming and would sometimes require travel to another city to follow up a certain transaction.
Muaqqibs do it for them.
“I cannot travel to Riyadh because of my job in Jeddah, but my muaqqib who lives in Riyadh takes care of renewing my iqama, although the problem is his fees increase every year,” said Hussien Al-Yusufi from Yemen.

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