A way-out for expats working in red and yellow category firms

Updated 08 January 2013

A way-out for expats working in red and yellow category firms

JEDDAH: The Labor Ministry announced yesterday that foreign workers in red and yellow category firms would be allowed to move freely to green and platinum companies.
Expatriates intending to transfer their jobs may log on to the ministry’s website redyellow.com.sa that offer them jobs in green and platinum Nitaqat categories.
“We have stopped renewing work permits of expatriates in yellow category firms who have completed six or more years in the Kingdom,” the ministry said.
Such workers have to seek jobs in green and platinum categories. Those workers who have not completed six years can renew their work permits and continue with the present employer if they want to do so.
An official source said the Taqat employment platform on the ministry’s website is for Saudis who seek jobs and is supported by the Human Resource Development Fund.
“This site helps both employers and Saudi job seekers to achieve their objectives with utmost efficiency and little effort,” the source said. Saudi job seekers need not run after companies while employers need not spend money on job advertisements.
“Our main objective is to supply adequate number of workers required by the private sector, including Saudis and expatriates,” the ministry said.
The source refuted allegations that the ministry was putting restrictions on foreign recruitment. “We have allowed recruitment of 1.1 million foreign workers in 2010 to meet the requirements of growing economic activities in the Kingdom,” he said.
The redyellow.com.sa website is devoted to expats residing in Saudi Arabia and working for entities that are classified in Red or Yellow categories of Nitaqat program.
For expats working on Yellow Nitaq entities, starting Feb. 23, 2012, their work permit renewal will be conditional to their tenure in Saudi Arabia; if they stayed less than six years in the Kingdom they can renew their work permit with the current employer. However, if they stayed six years or more they have to find a new employer in premium and green categories.
“Expats working in red or yellow entities can find jobs in premium and green firms on this website or by calling 920011884,” the ministry said.
Meanwhile, the Ministry of Labor has granted its inspectors the power to detect violations made by recruitment companies.
Ministry officials have inspected some recruitment companies. Among other things, the ministry examined the operational mechanisms adopted by the companies, their level of commitment to providing quality services to clients, as well as the employees’ accommodations and their means of subsistence.

Adventures that prove the Empty Quarter is teeming with life

Unseen vistas of life in the vast Arabian desert. (AN photo)
Updated 56 min 57 sec ago

Adventures that prove the Empty Quarter is teeming with life

  • The Empty Quarter is, in fact, so full of life that it is nearly impossible for anyone to explore and experience it completely in a lifetime

It is quite unbecoming to call a place “empty” — and rather too easy, as well. It is just another lazy way to label a location. That has been the case with Rub Al-Khali, the Empty Quarter, which is the largest contiguous desert, or erg, in the world.

Describing this particular place as “empty” is an irony. The Empty Quarter is, in fact, so full of life that it is nearly impossible for anyone to explore and experience it completely in a lifetime. The book “Camels in the Sky: Travels in Arabia” by Indian author V. Muzafer Ahamed, does, however, reveal and describe an incredible amount of the life, in its full spectrum, to be found among the Arabian dunes.

The author’s work in Saudi Arabia as a journalist for a Malayalam-language daily newspaper led him to the desert and its inhabitants. He admits he was initially reluctant to journey into the harsh terrain, especially after an early, bitter experience during his rural reporting assignment. 

He recounts how a subsequent accidental encounter with a Bedouin sowed the seeds of his desert travel adventures. Had it not been for the resultant irresistible temptation to discover the unfathomed other side of the “severity of the desert,” he would have ended up being just another migrant worker in the Saudi city of Jeddah, totally unaware of the nuances of life in the great Arabian desert.

“Camels in the Sky” is a collection of Ahamed’s travel essays, translated from Malayalam by P. J. Mathew, that record the glimpses of desert life the author was given during his adventures in Saudi Arabia over a period of 13 years. They reveal some hitherto largely unseen vistas of life in the desert villages of the Kingdom, which will come as a surprise to readers who have no clue about the variety of life to be found on this part of the planet.

The author is our guide on a deep journey through the hidden alleys of desert life, sketching a vivid and detailed picture along the way. Much like the magical vision of Garcia Marques (a comparison made by the translator in his introduction to the book), Ahamed’s unique perspective on desert life provokes in the reader a massive urge to make similar forays into the locations he describes.

The book begins with a tale of utmost relevance in the modern world: A water war. Water has always been a valuable commodity in the desert, of course, even before it became a serious matter of discussion elsewhere. That the author’s first major encounter with Saudi life is related to this much-valued resource is more than just a coincidence; it is the light that led him toward exploring and uncovering the specificities of life in the Kingdom.

Although personal injuries he suffered in Sakaka initially threatened to extinguish the spirit of the traveler, he was inspired to carry on with his adventure by an encounter with Abd’ Rehman, a Bedouin he met in a restaurant in Jeddah. The travel bug that bit the author eventually took him to every corner of the vast country and the result is the invaluable collection of life sketches found in this book.

Ahamed leads us through a series of diverse stories and experiences to prove that the desert is teeming with life. From historical accounts of the Kinda to the perils of travel through harsh desert terrain to tales of vast civilizations and heritage, the author leaves no stone unturned along his way.

Then there is the relentless spirit of the hardy ghaf tree, which survives on the rare sprinkles of rain that come once in a decade or so; the stories of an anonymous man who rescues travelers in the desert; the adventures in the mighty sand traps; the mating of beetles; birdhouses in the desert; the different shades of sand; and camels in all their glory. Through these tales and more, Ahamed paints a vivid and complete picture of a land that is so little explored.

A unique feature of his writing style is the way he blends Arabian life with historical and literary references and analogies from elsewhere in the world, thereby drawing parallels between life in this less-navigated landscape with that in the other parts of the world.

“Camels in the Sky” offers not only a unique reading experience but also plants seeds that can grow into a love of travel and the urge to venture into the unknown corridors of life. The book is a reminder of the vast ocean of experiences that our blue planet has in store for those prepared to set sail.