43% of OFW deaths in 2013 were in KSA — report

Updated 14 February 2014

43% of OFW deaths in 2013 were in KSA — report

A total of 883 Filipinos died abroad and 3,154 jailed for various offenses, according to a newly released report from the Philippine Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA).
The figures have resulted in many Filipinos asking their government to create more jobs for citizens at home, while others have questioned the veracity of the data.
The DFA stated that 382 Overseas Filipino Workers (OFW) died in Saudi Arabia, 93 in the United Arab Emirates, 85 in Qatar, 47 in Kuwait and 30 in Bahrain.
The Philippines is one of the world’s largest exporters of labor with about 10 million workers employed mostly as domestic helpers, construction laborers and medical personnel. Saudi Arabia accounts for more than a tenth of overseas Filipinos, surpassed only by the United States, say Philippine government records.
Foreign Affairs spokesman Raul Hernandez told GMA News Online that most cases of deaths and imprisonment are in the Gulf region — a key destination for Filipino workers. Common causes of deaths are illness and accidents.
The Middle East had the highest number of Filipinos jailed for various offenses followed by Southeast Asia and then China.
Another DFA official said common offenses committed by Filipinos in these countries are possession of liquor, which is banned in some Arab nations, theft or embezzlement, immorality, drug trafficking, murder and traffic violations.
A total of 634 Filipinos were detained for drug trafficking — 347 women and 287 men — in countries abroad, the DFA said.
Despite limited financial resources, the DFA was reportedly able to provide aid to 20,875 distressed Filipino workers in 2013, including 3,044 victims of human trafficking and hundreds caught in conflict in strife-torn nations.
Saidy Malic, a Riyadh-based community leader, has disputed the accuracy of the report. He said most of the data released by the DFA are unverified. He claimed that the DFA had also released incorrect figures on the number of Filipinos deployed in Saudi Arabia during the recent labor crackdown.
“The problem is that we cannot get correct information from the DFA much less from our embassy here. OFW’s have been crying for a single institution dedicated only to overseas workers but this was never granted,” he said.
“Information from non-governmental and other civil society organizations is more reliable. Unless we are recognized and given representation by the government we will continue to have the same problems.”
“We have actually been taken for granted and exploited as seen by the existence of more undocumented and un-repatriated OFWs.” He said many of these workers would be arrested before action is taken to help them.
Sigrid Matherson GoldSmith, an OFW based in Australia, urged the Philippine government to bring Filipinos home but said something must be done because they would be “returning to a country where they cannot earn anything and will have nothing to eat.”
A former OFW, Mods Abdullah, suggested that the government provide OFWs training on how to safeguard themselves abroad.
Philippine President Benigno S. Aquino III has recognized the need for the country to stop depending on remittances, according to reports. He would “create jobs at home so that working abroad will be out of choice, not necessity.”
A local media report said that every year hundreds of Filipino workers leave the country in search for better opportunities “Many have succeeded but some have come home in coffins in crushing personal tragedies that have become so commonplace they seldom make news at home.”
Their struggling Southeast Asian nation calls them “modern-day heroes” for the often meager earnings they send home that, collectively, keep the Philippine economy afloat and local businesses booming, the report said.


Riyadh governor opens high-profile Saudi economic forum

Updated 22 January 2020

Riyadh governor opens high-profile Saudi economic forum

RIYADH: A high-profile conference to tackle some of the main challenges facing the Saudi economy was on Tuesday opened by Riyadh Gov. Prince Faisal bin Bandar.

Speaking at the opening session of the influential three-day Riyadh Economic Forum (REF), the prince praised the Saudi business community for its cooperation with the government in helping to strengthen the country’s economic fortunes.

The ninth edition of the forum, being held under the title “Human-Centered Economy,” will discuss some of the key future economic issues confronting the Kingdom.

Thanking King Salman for his patronage of the event, vice chairman of Riyadh Chamber and chairman of the forum’s board of trustees, Hamad Al-Shuwaier, said important recommendations linked to the Vision 2030 plan would be announced during the gathering.

These would be related to the areas of public finance reform, the nonprofit sector, future jobs, the environment, and reverse migration.

“What distinguishes the forum, which serves as a research center for national issues, is its focus on the principle of dialogue and participation between all concerned, specialized and responsible parties within the economic and social community, by intensifying meetings and promoting participation in all study discussions, with the aim of touching barriers in a close and intensive manner.

“Accurately diagnosing the facts gives accurate results when identifying solutions,” he added.

Special sessions of the forum will aim to generate practical suggestions and solutions to help with economic decision-making and to establish the principle of dialogue and participation among sectors of the business community.

In July 2019, the REF held a panel discussion at the chamber’s Riyadh headquarters on a study detailing the role of balanced economic development in reverse migration and sustainable and comprehensive development in the Kingdom.

Its focus was to identify the obstacles preventing the movement of young workers between towns and big cities, as well as highlighting ways to improve the quality of life in small urban centers through an analytical survey of industrial and service resources in different regions.

Al-Shuwaier noted that the forum was special in bringing together a broad range of intellectual and practical minds from government and private sector organizations covering many fields.

He added that the chamber was working on the final touches to transforming the forum into an independent economic think tank that served national economic issues.

Ajlan Al-Ajlan, chairman of the Riyadh Chamber of Commerce and Industry (RCCI), which organized the event, said the forum’s main objectives included using scientific studies and methodology to identify issues affecting the national economy, analyzing constraints on economic growth and working to combat them by learning from the experiences of other countries.

He pointed out that the forum coincided with the Kingdom’s presidency of the 2020 G20 summit of global leaders, being held in Riyadh in November, and that the eyes of the world would be on Saudi Arabia.

The forum is one of the participants in T20, an official G20 engagement group, with four topics related to important sectors discussed by the group.

The opening ceremony of the REF was followed by a session on future jobs, administered by Education Minister Hamad bin Mohammed Al-Asheikh. Delegates discussed employment requirements linked to the fourth industrial revolution and how to tackle the prospect of 40 percent of jobs becoming obsolete due to mechanization in the farming and industrial sectors.

The session highlighted that education should go hand in hand to prepare students for the jobs of the future.

Forum data showed its previous eight sessions attracted 33,938 attendees, an average of 4,243 participants per session.