Iqama stolen? Report within 24 hours and avoid penalty

Updated 03 May 2014
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Iqama stolen? Report within 24 hours and avoid penalty

The Kingdom is witnessing the emergence of a thriving market of stolen iqamas being sold after forgery or the gangs resorting to extortion from the original iqama holder, but the authorities have stepped in with combative measures to nip this illegal activity in the bud.
As part of the measures to curb this menace, the government has waived the fine imposed on expats for stolen residency permits and facilitating their getting a new one from the Passport Office. There is, of course, a rider that the residency permit is not lost because of the holder’s negligence and that the theft is reported within 24 hours.
If neither condition is met, a fine of SR1,000 will have to be paid for first time loss or theft, SR2,000 and SR3,000 for second and third instances respectively.
The residency permits trade is believed to be run by African expats living in Jeddah. They ask the victims to pay for the iqama based on the holder’s nationality, while some iqamas are forged and sold to others or used for other purposes.
The focal point for the residency permits business is “Somali Souq” in downtown Jeddah, where most stolen or lost iqamas can be traced. Most expats who have lost or had their residency permits stolen land up in this market to get their papers back. Obviously, they don’t inform the police for fear of trouble.
A police official denied the presence of such organized gangs, but he advised all expats who have had their iqamas stolen to inform the police instead of going directly to deal with the thieves.
Jeddah Police’s spokesman, Atti Al-Qurashi, told Arab News that the cooperation of expatriates would help in nabbing these gangs. “There are no permanent locations for these gangs, but if the expats cooperate with us, we will surely catch them,” he said, adding that police carry out regular patrols looking for Iqama thieves.

An Egyptian expat, Abdullah Ahmed, told Arab News: “Two Africans contacted me and demanded SR1,000 to get my iqama back. But I discovered that my iqama had been found by another African expat,” he said.
Idris said he did not bother to inform the police because he did not care if the thieves were caught or not. “The important thing is that I got my iqama back and my presence in the country is legal again,” he said.
However, the police’s raids in “Somali Souq” played a big role in curbing their activities with the arrest of hundreds of African gangs that steal iqamas or official papers in the last few years, local newspapers said.
Salem Al-Sharaabi, a Yemeni expat, said: “I am sure that Jeddah police know exactly where these thieves are operating from. The thieves not only run their business from their homes, but they also have offices where they receive people who had lost their iqamas,” he said.
Al-Sharaabi said when he lost his wallet containing his iqama and driving license, he immediately reported the case to the police, but was surprised when police told him to go to the downtown area of Bab Sharif to look for his lost papers there. “I took the advice of the police and I did find my iqama where I was told it could be found,” he said.
The iqama is a very important document for expatriates living in the Kingdom, and they are ready to pay any amount to get it back if it is lost or stolen, without going to the police since they believe they will have to pay fine for stolen Iqama.
The Ministry of Interior announced that if iqama is stolen or lost, it should be reported within 24 hours at a police station with a letter from the sponsor stating the circumstances under which it was lost and the place of loss to avoid fine.
A passport office representative told Arab News that according to the ministry and government law, if anyone is robbed of his iqama, especially in Makkah and Madinah, or on a bus, he can get replacement without fine, but he has to prove the theft.
Mohammed Suliman, a building security man, said his iqama was stolen while he was drinking water from a cooler and he reported the matter to the police the same day. He got his replacement iqama immediately without paying any fine.


KSA's Eastern Province residents welcome Sharqiah Season visitors from far and wide

Updated 9 sec ago
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KSA's Eastern Province residents welcome Sharqiah Season visitors from far and wide

  • The Sharqiah Seasonfeatures over 80 events in cities acrossf the Kingdom's Eastern Province
  • Events in the upcoming weekends feature sports events as as well as concerts

RIYADH: Residents of the Eastern Province are no strangers to foreign visitors — the nation’s oil heartland has been welcoming them for years. But more have been arriving with the opening of Sharqiah Season, featuring over 80 events across the region’s cities.

Organized as a collaborative effort by the Saudi Commission for Tourism and National Heritage alongside the General Entertainment Authority, the General Culture Authority and the General Sports Authority, it is the first of 11 scheduled festivals planned across the country in 2019.

Faisal Al-Rayisi, an employee at King Fahd International Airport in Dammam, told Arab News he was surprised by the number of people arriving for the festival. 

“People are not only coming from Saudi Arabia, but from all over the Gulf as well — Kuwait and the UAE in particular,” he said. “I’ve even seen foreigners from Europe and Asia coming through. Time was, we used to go to Dubai for our entertainment, but now people from Dubai are coming to us.”

He also mentioned how happy he was to see the festivities coming to the Eastern Province. “Jeddah has this slogan, ‘Jeddah is different,’ but now that we’re seeing the first Sharqiah Season in our region, and all of these amazing activities and concerts are happening here, I think we can safely say ‘Sharqiah is different’ now.”

The Sharqiah festival aims to deliver an extensive entertainment experience for both Saudis and visitors to the Kingdom.

The festival features events in Eastern Province cities, including Dammam, Dhahran, Alkhobar, Al-Ahsa and Jubail. Future seasons will focus on different areas of Saudi Arabia, with different entertainment options for each city. Upcoming seasons will focus on different areas, and also different parts of the year, such as Ramadan, Eid Al-Fitr and Eid Al-Adha.

Turki Al-Sheikh, chairman of the General Entertainment Authority, said in a statement that  the organization’s participation in the festival aligns with its goal of improving the quality of life in the Kingdom, and discovering local talent in various entertainment industries.  

He also highlighted the importance of the entertainment sector and its contribution to the economy and the creation of jobs for locals, all important aspects of Vision 2030.

The opening night of Sharqiah Season on Thursday drew crowds of Saudis to the Alkhobar Corniche, despite strong winds and sprinklings of rain earlier in the day. Groups of friends stopping to take selfies and families with young children in tow wandered through the Entertainment Boulevard, lined with food stalls selling karak and koshari.

Earlier in the day, the mega event began with the opening of an exhibit featuring the work of Leonardo da Vinci at the King Abdul Aziz Center for World Culture (Ithra). 

The exhibit showcased some of Da Vinci’s original sketches, with several screens showing videos detailing how his designs have continued to inspire scientists and inventors in the modern era.

Sharqiah Season continues until March 30, with upcoming weekends featuring sports events such as the Red Bull Air Race and the Formula 1 H20 boat race, as well as concerts in Dammam featuring Akon, Deadmau5, Pitbull and French Montana.