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Saudi Arabia

Number of Pakistani expats exceeds 1.5 m

RIYADH: The number of Pakistani expats in Saudi Arabia is consistently increasing and currently exceeds 1.5 million.
Pakistani Ambassador Mohammed Naeem Khan said yesterday that the Pakistanis were “committed and conscientious workers” because of their proximity to the Kingdom and its people, especially in terms of religion and age-old ties.
Ambassador Khan was commenting on a report of the Bureau of Emigration & Overseas Employment (BEOE), a regulatory body of the Pakistan government, which controls workers’ employment and the emigration process.
According to the report, Saudi Arabia has become the largest market for Pakistani workers in the world. “Saudi Arabia being an Islamic state has been an attractive place to work in for millions of Pakistani job seekers aiming for employment abroad,” said the report.
The report said that Islamabad attracts huge foreign exchange with continuous growth in the number of workers traveling to Gulf states.
The report said that the total number of Pakistani workers deployed in the Kingdom has doubled during the last seven or eight years.
“Presently, Pakistan is exporting skilled, semiskilled and unskilled workers to Saudi Arabia,” said the report, adding that the number of visa issued by the Saudi Embassy and Consulate has risen to 25,000 every month.
A large number of Pakistani are traveling for jobs, while many of them arrive in the Kingdom for Umrah and business. The Pakistani population of 1.5 million is the highest overseas population of the country.
The UK, US and UAE are other countries with a significant Pakistani population, which varies from 1.2 million to 1 million. The remittances of Pakistani workers from the Kingdom have increased significantly to about $3 billion annually.
Asked about the Kingdom’s plan to recruit more doctors, engineers, paramedical staff and technicians from Pakistan, the ambassador said that “the plan was being implemented and the process is on.”
He pointed out that a large number of skilled workers are coming to Saudi Arabia. Also, the middle category workers arriving in the Kingdom include professionals in the fields of medicine, health care, nursing, management, engineering, sales and courier services, he added.
He said Pakistani workers were more committed than any other expatriate groups because they consider the Kingdom as their second home. “They get an opportunity to visit the holy cities of Makkah and Madinah, a lifetime dream of millions of Muslims,” said the envoy.
The diplomat said that the Kingdom had been hiring doctors, engineers, teachers, bankers, IT and telecom experts and accountants from Pakistan in large numbers. These professionals are fortunate to have handsome salaries along with fringe benefits, accommodation and holidays. Usually hiring companies afford all of their expenses including visa fees, airfare and expenditure of annual or bi-annual visits to homeland.
The salaries of Pakistani professionals vary from SR 5,000 to SR 20,000 easily, which increases with the passage of time, experience and opportunities.
“There is a constant demand of laborers and technical staff in different ongoing projects in Saudi Arabia, which is witnessing heavy construction activities,” said Khan, adding that Pakistani workers have contributed to each and every project in the Kingdom.
Asked about the plans to recruit female workers from Pakistan, he said there was no such move for the time being. “But, there are a number of Pakistani female doctors currently working here,” said the envoy.
Makkah and Madinah have created opportunities for millions of workers in Pakistan and other developing countries to complete their large projects by 2016. Normally, Muslim workers are preferred in these two cities.

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