Treat expats humanely, RCCI leader urges govt agencies

Updated 08 July 2013
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Treat expats humanely, RCCI leader urges govt agencies

A leading businessman in Riyadh has accused the Passport Department of “inhuman and uncivilized” treatment of expatriate workers over the past three months.
Abdul Rahman Al-Zamil, chairman of the Riyadh Chamber of Commerce and Industry (RCCI), said the Passport Department, other agencies and individuals should try to follow the example of other Gulf Cooperation Council countries in their treatment of expatriate workers.
Al-Zamil also believes the extra four months provided by the government is not enough time. “The accumulated negatives in the marketplace over the past three decades cannot be addressed during the new time frame of the amnesty.”
He rejected accusations that major Saudi firms and institutions played a major role in exploiting foreign workers and trading in visas. “The majority of the violators did not run away from big establishments.”
He accused small business owners of recruiting foreign workers for financial gain. “After using them, they dumped them onto the streets when the new regulations were issued.”
He said the actions of these enterprises have harmed the Kingdom's reputation. “Looking at the facts, one will see that the largest number of workers who rectified their status came from small and medium enterprises.”
Speaking to local media, Al-Zamil called on the Passport Department and Labor Ministry to set up more offices to accommodate the large numbers of workers and establishments wishing to correct their status.
He suggested using school buildings to deal with overcrowding. “These buildings are not used during summer vacation, are spacious and adequately equipped with air conditioners. What happened during the first grace period was not acceptable or humanitarian,” he said.
“The Ministry of Labor succeeded in rectifying the status of only 30 percent of the workers requiring documentation during the past three months,” he said. Labor offices across the country should change the way they work “so that large numbers of foreign workers can correct their status.”
Any foreign worker wishing to leave the Kingdom should be free to do so without the state bearing any of the costs. The costs should be borne either by sponsors or workers. “Deportation centers will not be able to accommodate the large number of foreign workers wishing to leave Saudi Arabia,” said Al-Zamil.
He said sponsors must be held accountable for their mistakes. “Those who recruited the illegal workers have placed a big burden on the government.”


Saudi businesswomen eye greater role in the economy with end to driving ban

The end of the driving ban is expected to help bring an economic windfall for Saudi women. (Shutterstock)
Updated 23 June 2018
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Saudi businesswomen eye greater role in the economy with end to driving ban

  • The historic move is a huge step forward for businesswomen in the Saudi Arabia, says businesswoman
  • A recent survey by the Jeddah Chamber of Commerce indicated that transportation was a major concern holding Saudi women back from joining the labor market

The end of the driving ban will boost women’s financial power and allow them to play a bigger role in economic and social diversification in line with Vision 2030, prominent businesswomen said on Friday.

Hind Khalid Al-Zahid was the first Saudi woman designated as an executive director — for Dammam Airport Company — and also heads the Businesswomen Center at the Eastern Province Chamber of Commerce and Industry. 

She sees the historic move as a huge step forward for businesswomen in the Kingdom.

“Women being allowed to drive is very important; of course this will help a lot in sustainable development as the lifting of the ban on women driving came as a wonderful opportunity to increase women’s participation in the workforce,” she told Arab News on Friday, ahead of the end of the ban on Sunday.

She added that women in the job market are under-represented; they make up to 22 percent of the national workforce of about six million according to official estimates. Lifting the ban will help to take women’s representation in the workforce to 30 percent by 2030, she said.

“This is not just the right thing to do for women’s emancipation, but also an essential step in economic and social development as part of the reforms,” she said.

She said that there were different obstacles in increasing women’s participation in the workforce and other productive activities, and the driving ban was one of them. It was a strategic issue that needed to be addressed on a priority basis. With the issue resolved, it would help immensely in giving Saudi women better representation as they would help to diversify the Saudi economy and society.

She said that women could contribute hugely to the workforce and labor market as half of Saudi human resources were female, and unless allowed to excel in different sectors it would not be possible to do better, mainly because of restricted mobility.

A recent survey by the Jeddah Chamber of Commerce indicated that transportation was a major concern holding Saudi women back from joining the labor market.

Nouf Ibrahim, a businesswoman in Riyadh, said: “It will surely boost female economic participation and help increase women’s representation in the workforce immensely. It will also help to reduce the overall national unemployment rate as most of the unemployed are women and many of them are eligible as university graduates.”

She echoed the opinion that the move would help to bring an economic windfall for Saudi women, making it easier for them to work and do business, and thus play a bigger and better role that would help economic and social diversification in line with Saudi Vision 2030.

“Being able to drive from Sunday onwards after the ban is lifted will be a wonderful experience. Earlier we were dependent on a male family member and house driver to take us to workplace, to the shopping center, school or other required places for some work, now we can drive and that will allow active participation in productive work,” Sulafa Hakami, a Saudi woman working as the digital communication manager with an American MNC in Riyadh, told Arab News.

“Saudi women can now share effectively the bigger and better responsibilities,” she said.