Amnesty: Illegals can leave with no penalty

Updated 26 February 2013
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Amnesty: Illegals can leave with no penalty

Expats without legal documents who have been stuck here for years have a golden chance to end their ordeal by benefiting from the amnesty announced yesterday.
Labor Minister Adel Fakeih announced the plan to clean up the labor market. According to it, undocumented foreign workers can leave Saudi Arabia on exit-only visas without being penalized.
Fakeih said this while opening a forum of Saudization committees at regional governorates. He said the forum was aimed at tackling the issue of excess foreign workers and violators of iqama and labor regulations. He defended the SR 2,400 levy, saying it was imposed to protect the nation’s interest.
“No iqamas and work permits will be issued to employees of Red Category firms,” he added.
The minister defended the SR 2,400 levy, saying it was imposed to protect the nation’s interest. “We believe that it would increase the chances of Saudi men and women getting more jobs.”
The Nitaqat system was instrumental in raising the number of Green Category companies from 30 to 60 percent. More than 500,000 Saudis have received jobs following the introduction of the Nitaqat system, he added.
Fakeih said the Interior Ministry backs labor inspectors by deploying police officers to carry out their mission effectively. The forum discussed how to track undocumented workers, punishments to be imposed on them and how to activate regional Saudization committees.
Indian Consul General Faiz Ahmad Kidwai welcomed the move by the Labor Ministry, and hoped illegal workers would make use of the offer.
“There are several Indian workers who face iqama-related problems,” Kidwai said. “Many of them find it difficult to renew their iqamas. Some of them could not even find their sponsors.”
He said the consulate would be ready to issue emergency certificates to those who want to leave the Kingdom.
“We’ll assign more staff members to issue such certificates,” Kidwai said.
Hesham Rowaihy, a management consultant, said the ministry’s move was aimed at balancing the Kingdom’s labor market and creating job opportunities for the increasing number of Saudi graduates.
“I hope the ministry would give such illegal workers some more time to correct their situation or leave the Kingdom on exit visas,” he told Arab News.
There are more than 1.1 million companies in the private sector. “Eleven percent of them do not exist as they were created just to get visas while 31 percent of them are involved in cover-up businesses and do not employ any Saudis,” Rowaihy said quoting a recent study.
He also defended the Labor Ministry’s decision to impose SR 2,400 levy, saying such taxes are imposed worldwide. “Each foreigner cost the Kingdom SR 5,390 every year because of subsidized services they get. This is one of the reasons we want to decrease the number of foreigners,” he said.
Rowaihy stressed the importance of adopting a succession plan by all private companies in order to gradually replace foreigners by Saudis without affecting their business. There are about eight million foreign workers in the Kingdom.
KTA Muneer, an Indian social worker, expressed his hope that the new Labor Ministry move would help some one million illegal workers leave the Kingdom.
According to one report, there are about 50,000 Indian huroob workers who have allegedly run away from their sponsors. The ministry has widened the concept of illegal workers, who include those who do not work under their sponsors or engaged in activities that are not mentioned in their iqamas or work contracts, he added.


Disappointed fans hail improved performance by Saudi Green Falcons after defeat ends World Cup dream

Updated 24 min 54 sec ago
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Disappointed fans hail improved performance by Saudi Green Falcons after defeat ends World Cup dream

  • A fan named Yousif, who watched the match at the General Sports Authority viewing tent, was happy that the game at least was close this time.
  • Saudi Arabia will face off against Egypt, who also lost their opening two group A games against Uruguay and Russia, on June 25.

JEDDAH: Saudi Arabia’s World Cup dreams were shattered on Wednesday after Uruguay beat the Green Falcons 1-0 in the second of the three group-stage matches. Most Saudi fans in Jeddah were much happier with the team’s performance in game two, following the resounding 5-0 defeat by host nation Russia in the opening match on June 14, but still bitterly disappointed by the loss, which means the team cannot qualify for the knockout round.

Yousif, who watched the match at the General Sports Authority viewing tent, was happy that the game at least was close this time. “Although we lost, the performance was much better than the first game with Russia. I hope we win our next match,” he said.

Nasrah, who watched the game with her two sons, said: “I was really disappointed because we played good today and nothing less than a win should have been acceptable. I am also disappointed to see the looks on my boys faces when the game ended as they were hoping for a win.”

Khalid Al-Raghbi said at least it had been a good match to watch. “We played a bit better today,” he added. “I wish we would have won but at least we performed better than our last match against Russia.”

Before the game, Ibrahim Al-Turki had been optimistic about Saudi Arabia’s chances. “We didn’t expect today’s result. I was thinking that Saudi would win by two goals, and Uruguay would score one,” he said.

The result was especially disappointing given the close result and the number of chances the Saudis had to score, said Badr, who added: “I don’t know what to tell you because we are deeply disappointed. At least if we lost with a big defeat I would say we deserved it. We had the potential but we could not score.”

Shadi Al-Ghamdi said he wished the national team’s much improved performance in their second game had been more evident in their first. “I am very proud of the players, I thought they played very well. I just wish they had played like this against Russia," he said.

Safah was less complimentary and said that the Saudi players had let their fans down, adding: “They seemed scared whenever they attempted to score any goals.”

Saudi Arabia will face off against Egypt, who also lost their opening two group A games against Uruguay and Russia, on June 25. It will be the final game in the competition for both sides, with only pride to play for, as they battle it out to see who will finish third in the group and who will be left in bottom spot.