New plan to prosecute agents of illegal maids

Updated 22 February 2016

New plan to prosecute agents of illegal maids

DAMMAM/RIYADH: The Ministry of Labor and the Public Security have agreed on a new plan to prosecute offenders involved in the illicit trafficking of domestic workers which is against the Kingdom’s residency and work regulations.

Citizens and residents are urged to have no dealings with those who supply maids illegally.
This decision was made at a meeting between Labor Minister Mufrej Al-Haqabani and Public Security Director Othman bin Naser Al-Muhraj at the ministry’s headquarters in Riyadh. The purpose of the meeting was to find a way to monitor and track violations related to the illegal trafficking of housemaids.
The meeting was attended by Ahmad Al-Humaidan, deputy labor minister, Abdullah Abuthunyan, undersecretary for planning, development and information, Ahmad Al-Hadlaq, public security director for field operations and Abdul Aziz Al-Hassan, director of the general department for combating cybercrimes in the public security department.
The participants discussed the causes for domestic workers running away from their employers along with security, physical and social consequences.
They stressed the importance of coordinating efforts between the ministry and security in order to receive regular reports on domestic workers who have run away from their employers.
Also discussed were means of facilitating the reports by using modern technology and its applications.
The Labor Ministry announced earlier that the relevant departments are working to monitor violations related to ads in the media by unauthorized individuals or entities which sell or lease domestic workers illegally.
At the same time, the Gulf states are working on unified legislation pertaining to national and expatriate employment which will be adopted by the end of 2016. The legislation will be mandatory for all member states.
Speaking to a local newspaper, Amer Al-Hajair, the director at the executive office of the Council of Ministers of Labor and Social Affairs, the first point to be dealt with in the new regulations will be in relation to household workers.
According to him, there are efforts to unify the GCC labor system on these points as some differences remain between the Kingdom and other GCC states.
He said the plan would include outstanding economic and social issues, in addition to pending legislation, and would set clear deadlines for the implementation of the resolutions.


Umrah app will increase competition, enrich pilgrim experience, says Saudi official

Updated 24 September 2020

Umrah app will increase competition, enrich pilgrim experience, says Saudi official

  • External agents who used to control everything will no longer do so

MAKKAH: The Kingdom’s new Umrah app will create a competitive business environment that will improve pilgrim services and enrich the pilgrim experience, according to a senior ministry official.
I’tamarna is aimed at enforcing health standards amid the COVID-19 pandemic and making it easier for people to book their journeys. It also offers booking services that pilgrims can use ahead of their arrival in Makkah for accommodation, transport and recreation.
Dr. Amr Al-Maddah, chief planning and strategy officer at the Ministry of Hajj and Umrah, said that the app’s launch should push companies to provide people with a broader and better range of services.
“When we provide high quality services at competitive prices, the pilgrim will find himself drawn to these companies, especially when companies work hard to provide the best services at a competitive price to local pilgrims,” Al-Maddah told Arab News.
He added that external agents who used to control everything related to Umrah will no longer do so as they were just agents and did not own facilities. Their job was to represent and market Umrah companies abroad.
According to Al-Maddah, new measures had fixed this problem and organized the relation between Umrah companies and their external agents to be strictly marketing-based.
“The newly adopted measures will free Umrah companies and motivate them, especially at a time when bookings are being performed through several electronic platforms. This allows foreign pilgrims to directly deal with Umrah companies through the phone, the app and additional means other than the external agents. This will liberate the Umrah companies and improve their performance, allowing them to market their services inside and outside the Kingdom.”
Saudi Arabia said earlier this week that it would start allowing pilgrims to perform Umrah in phased return, while taking the necessary precautions. The decision was made after assessing the developments of the pandemic and in response to the desire of Muslims around the world to perform the ritual.

FASTFACT

I’tamarna offers booking services that pilgrims can use ahead of their arrival in Makkah for accommodation, transport and recreation. Pilgrims can download the app on Sept. 28.

“The launch of the app came due to the coronavirus pandemic, its repercussions and preventive measures that require specifying the number of pilgrims,” Al-Maddah said. “There is a capacity that should not be exceeded. This is what prevents the overcrowding of holy sites and limits the spread of the virus among pilgrims.”
He said that the operational capacity was calculated through the Ministry of Health’s Tawakkalna app, with the pilgrim using I’tamarna to book an Umrah appointment that was time-specific and accompanied by anti-coronavirus preventive measures.
The first phase of the gradual return will include allowing citizens and expatriates from within the Kingdom to perform Umrah at a capacity of 30 percent from Oct. 4, the equivalent of 6,000 pilgrims per day.
The second will increase the capacity of the Grand Mosque to 75 percent, which would include 15,000 pilgrims and 40,000 worshippers a day from Oct. 18.
In the third phase, pilgrims from abroad would be allowed to perform Umrah from Nov. 1 with a capacity of 20,000 pilgrims and 60,000 worshippers per day.
The fourth stage will see the Grand Mosque return to normal, when all COVID-19 risks have gone away. Pilgrims can download the app on Sept. 28.