Legal workers who were never handed iqamas

Updated 25 June 2013

Legal workers who were never handed iqamas

With hardly a week left for the three-month grace period to end, the fate of thousands of expatriates who are not in possession of their iqamas or even know the number, hangs in balance. Worse still is the situation of those expatriates who not only do not have a clue about their iqamas but do not have their passports with them either.
It is mandatory for illegal workers to at least give their iqama number if not produce it before the Saudi passport authorities to facilitate exit from the Kingdom or rectify their job status.
It’s common practice for sponsors in remote villages not to hand over iqamas to their employees like drivers, farm workers and shepherds, mainly to prevent them from running away. In several cases, the sponsors do not even apply for iqamas for their employees once they land in Saudi Arabia. Such expats do not have any documents, and at times like this, they are the worst hit.
Security and Passport inspection forces also do not insist on seeing the iqama once the employee reveals the name of his employer or sponsor. The same is the case with several maintenance companies in major cities. The employees in these companies draw very low salaries and their employers do not hand over their iqamas to them.
Thousands of expatriates thrown into this quagmire are making the rounds of their respective diplomatic missions and the deportation centers with the hope that someone will come to their rescue. Many of them who could not produce iqamas but had their passports with them have been able to find a solution with the help of their diplomatic missions in tracking down their details through the biometric data available with the Saudi authorities. But then there are others who entered the Kingdom before recording of biometrics of expats was introduced.
In fact, Asian expatriates have been fortunate in this regard since the respective diplomatic missions have helped thousands of their citizens who came with their passport number to find the iqama number as also sponsor’s details from Saudi passport authorities. This had resulted in many of them landing new jobs with new employers in a legal way utilizing the grace period.
The main challenge faced by illegal workers is that despite their diplomatic missions issuing one-way travel documents after identifying them based on certain evidence, Saudi passport authorities at deportation centers have refused to accept the exit paper and are insisting on having the iqama number.
The passport officials are insisting on the iqama numbers to ensure that the applicant arrived in the Kingdom on a proper visa and did not sneak in.
While there is no scope for people from Asian countries to sneak in since their countries don’t border Saudi Arabia, the authorities are concerned about such activity taking place from countries like Yemen, Ethiopia and Somalia. Infiltration is particularly high from across Yemen.
There are an estimated 6,000 expatriates in Jeddah without iqama numbers, and over 2,500 are from India alone. Diplomatic missions are now compiling data on such expats and intend to approach the Saudi authorities seeking a solution before the grace period ends.


Saudi Arabia’s first female CEO makes Forbes 100 most powerful women

Updated 13 December 2019

Saudi Arabia’s first female CEO makes Forbes 100 most powerful women

Saudi Arabia’s first female CEO is named in Forbes 100 most powerful women in the world for a second time.

Rania Nashar, Samba Financial Group CEO, was ranked 97th in the list that also included 16-year-old climate change activist Greta Thunberg.

The list also included the United Arab Emirates’ Raja Easa Al-Gurg ranked at 84. The Emirati, who is a Board Member of the Dubai Chamber of Commerce and Industry, was also featured in the list in 2017.

The top 10 in the list included German Chancellor Angela Merkel and Christine Lagarde, who was newly appointed president of the European Central Bank.