Raids’ ferocity alarms holed-up illegal expats

Updated 10 November 2013

Raids’ ferocity alarms holed-up illegal expats

Thousands of expatriates who refused to correct their status during the grace period are now having sleepless nights.
They have stayed away from work since Nov. 3 in the belief that the raids would end soon and it would be business as usual.
“I'm scared to death after seeing all those photos of handcuffed expats in newspapers and on social media sites,” said Nasir Lateef, a Pakistani in Riyadh. “We never expected the raids to be so ferocious.”
Lateef says he is not undocumented. “I have a valid iqama (residency permit), but I can be arrested during a raid because the profession on my iqama says I'm an accountant, while I'm actually an auto repairman.”
There are hundreds of workers like Lateef in Jeddah, Dammam and other cities who thought the raids would simply not take place, or that they would end in a week.
“The ferocity of the raids has alarmed us,” said Nayyar Siddiki, an Indian teacher. “Nobody wants to take the risk of venturing out,” he said from his home in the expat-dominated Aziziyah district.
Siddiki admits that it was wrong not to transfer his sponsorship to the school where he teaches. “I'm not alone, many of my colleagues thought that since they have iqamas they would not be arrested,” he said. “Now we are confused and rue the decision not to undergo the correction process.”
Those staying home are relying on what is termed in expat circles as “raid fatigue” on the part of the government.
“We are hoping that the inspectors and the security forces will call off the raids after one more week,” said Anisul Islam, a Bangladeshi gas station attendant in Dammam.
The government, however, has made it clear that there would be no letup in the raids. “This is a comprehensive and long-term Kingdomwide campaign,” said Brig. Mansour Al-Turki, the Interior Ministry spokesman, on Nov. 3 when the amnesty period ended.
The Labor Ministry has devised a comprehensive raid mechanism. In the first phase, officials raided areas with many expatriates including vegetable markets, industrial areas, auto-repair and paint shops. They arrested thousands of illegal workers. Inspectors have not yet raided commercial establishments and international schools.
There is near unanimity among Saudis that the government is doing the right thing.
“It's now or never,” said Saeed Al-Shamrani, a teacher at a government school in Jeddah. “No country can accept undocumented and illegal workers on such a massive scale,” he said. “The numbers arrested indicate the magnitude of the problem.”
His colleague, Yahya Al-Dossary, agrees. “We are ready to suffer in the short term for a long-term solution. The government is doing the right thing. We need expats, but we need legal ones.”


Riyadh roads turn green as world’s largest urban greening project branches out

Based on experience, roads and streets without trees contain eight to 10 times the amount of dust compared with streets lined with trees on both sides. (Photo/Supplied)
Updated 03 August 2020

Riyadh roads turn green as world’s largest urban greening project branches out

  • Capital gets a facelift as Vision 2030 program works to plant 7.5 million trees
  • Most of the tree species used in the project are from a well-developed local environment with low agricultural service and care

RIYADH: The Green Riyadh project, one of the world’s largest urban greening initiatives, is rapidly bearing fruit as it transforms main roads in the capital.

Major thoroughfares, including King Khalid, Makkah and King Salman roads, are getting a facelift as part of the Vision 2030 goal of improving quality of life in the city.
Dr. Fahad Al-Mana, a professor of Ornamental Plants, Gardens and Green Areas at King Saud University, told Arab News that native tree species being used for the project include Ziziphus spina-christi, Acacia gerrardii and Prosopis cineraria, commonly known as the ghaf tree.
According to Al-Mana, the trees can survive in harsh desert conditions and will grow without intensive agricultural care.
“Most of the tree species used in the planting of the Green Riyadh project are from a well-developed local environment with low agricultural service and care,” he said.
Environmental conditions in Riyadh were taken into account during the tree selection process. The species can grow to a large size in only three years.
“In some locations, they have moved large 3-year-old local trees that were taken care of in plant nurseries to new locations where they are growing successfully,” Al-Mana said.
Green Riyadh will increase the amount of greenery in the city and augment the green cover in the Saudi capital with the planting of 7.5 million trees around the city’s main features and facilities.
The project will reduce the average ambient temperature by 2 degrees Celsius and improve air quality, encouraging people to follow a healthier lifestyle by walking or cycling.

FASTFACTS

• The project will reduce the average ambient temperature by 2 degrees Celsius and improve air quality, encouraging people to follow a healthier lifestyle by walking or cycling.

• The project will maximize the use of recycled water in irrigation works by increasing usage from 90,000 cubic meters per day to more than 1 million cubic meters per day through the construction of a new recycled water network.

• Green space in the city will increase from 5 percent to 9 percent by 2030

“The aim of planting trees in the streets is to provide shade and moderate the temperature, especially in summer, which contributes to the purification of air and reduces environmental pollution by protecting the city from sand storms, winds and dust. In addition, it gives an aesthetic view and the element of nature enters the city and nearby structures,” said Al-Mana.
He added that trees, especially those planted in central street islands, must have long trunks and high branches to avoid hindering the movement of pedestrians and cars. The trunk must measure at least 3 to 4 meters and the size of the trees planted must be proportional to the width of the island.
Al-Mana said green space in the city will increase from 5 percent to 9 percent by 2030.
According to the Green Riyadh website, the project will maximize the use of recycled water in irrigation works by increasing usage from 90,000 cubic meters per
day to more than 1 million cubic meters per day through the construction of a new recycled water network.
Al-Mana said the Green Riyadh project will also reduce carbon dioxide and impurity levels in the city.
“Based on experience, roads and streets without trees contain eight to 10 times the amount of dust compared with streets lined with trees on both sides,” he said.