Expat-run markets wear deserted look

Expat-run markets wear deserted look
Updated 08 November 2013

Expat-run markets wear deserted look

Expat-run markets wear deserted look

Jeddah, the commercial capital of the Kingdom, was hit the hardest by the new labor laws on the first day of the post-amnesty period.
Several industries, including the construction, hospitality and service sector, commercial markets and even educational institutions, have been hit by the nonavailability of foreign workers.
The impact of the end of the amnesty deadline was visible across town, from vegetable markets, which were visibly deserted, to construction activity, which virtually came to a standstill.
Schools remained closed and commercial activity was at an all-time low.
For perhaps the first time in its history, the "Halaqa" central vegetable market had virtually no workers on the scene. This, coupled with a fall in vegetable supplies from abroad, has gravely affected market activity.
Indeed, supplies of fresh produce to Jeddah has been badly hit, resulting in spiraling fruit and vegetable prices. Potatoes, which were being sold at SR4 per kg as of Sunday, doubled on Monday to reach SR8 a kilo.
Traders said there were no supplies from Hail, where laborers stopped reporting to farms to pick and load potatoes.
Traders at vegetable markets told Arab News that there were no new shipments of vegetable produce in the past 24 hours from Taif, Hail, Tabuk and Madinah.
Many expect prices to shoot up further in the next couple of days if supplies are not restored.
The meat market was also affected badly, with Sudanese shepherds not turning up at work in east Jeddah, while the Asian butchers, which depend on imports from India and Africa, fired workers who failed to transfer sponsorships.
The food industry was also hit on the first day, with an apparent lack of supply of ingredients and cooks not turning up for work.
Bakeries were the worst hit, since most ovens used for baking bread, a staple in the Asian diet, were manned mostly by illegal workers. Restaurants and commercial kitchens also felt the pinch.
Small enterprises in the service sector were also hit by imminent raids, as were schools, which are still struggling to regularize the jobs of teachers.
Construction activity in Jeddah also came to standstill, with expat workers abstaining from work at various sites, including residential and commercial projects. The nonavailability of illegal workers has also resulted in the cost of construction going up, with legal labor taking advantage of the situation and demanding more money.
The level of construction activity can be gauged by the quantum of cement and concrete mixture sold. In Jeddah, 4,000 cubic meters of cement and concrete mixture is sold every day on average. On Monday, sales dropped to just 600 cubic meters of concrete mixture, sources told Arab News. Construction workers at various sites of the Jeddah Municipality and the National Water Company also didn’t report for work.
In Riyadh, the scene was no different. The first day of the government crackdown on illegal expatriates witnessed a slow turnout at schools, restaurants and business establishments.
The Al-Batha shopping complex in the city center appeared deserted, with many shops either empty or closed altogether.
In Madinah, security forces detained some 300 people for violating residency laws. Police officers and personnel also raided and detained undocumented foreign workers in parts of Yanbu, Al-Ula, Khaibar, Badr, Al-Mahd, Al-Hanakiyyah, Al-Ais and Wadi Al Far’.

Irfan Mohammed, Muhammad Al-Sulaimi, Abdul Hannan Tago & Yusuf Muhammad contributed to this report.