KSA toughens stance on illegals

KSA toughens stance on illegals
Updated 16 April 2014

KSA toughens stance on illegals

KSA toughens stance on illegals

Saudi Arabia on Monday announced tough punishment for expats violating the country’s residency, labor and business regulations. Punishment includes fines up to SR100,000, a jail term for up to two years, a recruitment ban and deportation.
The move targets foreigners who have come to the Kingdom on work, visit, Haj and Umrah visas, and have overstayed their visas, the Interior Ministry said.
“Punishment will be increased depending on the number of violations and individuals involved, while violating expats will be deported and prevented from entering the Kingdom for a specific period,” the ministry said in a statement. “Those arrested for violations will not be released, even on bail.”
Administrative panels at the Passport Department will determine the violations.
“People will have the right to appeal against the panel’s decision to the interior minister within 30 working days following the issuance of the decision,” the statement said. A special legal panel at the ministry will look into such appeals and provide the minister with their proposals.
Expats working independently will be fined SR10,000 and deported if the violation is committed for the first time, while second-time offenders will be fined SR25,000, jailed for one month and deported and third-time offenders will incur a SR50,000 fine, a six-month jail and deportation, the statement said.
Expats overstaying their visas after they have expired for the first time will be fined SR15,000 and deported, while second-time offenders will be liable to pay SR25,000, spend three months in jail and face deportation.
Third-time overstayers, meanwhile, will incur a SR50,000 fine, a six-month jail term and deportation.
Saudis and expats have welcomed the ministry’s statement, saying it would strengthen the Kingdom’s security and stability.
“The Interior Ministry’s decision compliments the Labor Ministry’s efforts to flush out illegals and regulate the labor market,” said Ibrahim Badawood, managing director of ALJ Community Initiatives.
“The punishments issued by the ministry show that they are very serious on the issue. The punishment covers not only expats, but also companies and individual employers,” he said. “Now, employers will think twice before hiring or sheltering an illegal expat,” Badawood said.
He said the government’s move would also address the “tasattur” (cover-up businesses) phenomenon and other illegal activities.
“Some sponsors have recruited many expats and they don’t know what their workers are doing. This is a serious issue and the new punishments will definitely reduce such illegal operations,” he said.
The ministry said intruders held outside the border will be fined SR15,000 and deported after serving a one-month jail sentence. Second time violators will be fined SR25,000, jailed three months and deported, while third-time or more offenders will have to pay SR100,000 fine and serve six months in jail before deportation.

Those who transport, employ and shelter intruders will be fined SR25,000, jailed for six months and deported if expats.
Their vehicles will be seized if the violation is committed for the first time. Second-time violators will be fined SR50,000, jailed for one year, deported, shamed and have their vehicle confiscated, while third-time offenders will be liable to pay a SR100,000 fine, face a two-year jail and be deported.
The ministry said all those who transport, shelter or employ violators of the Kingdom’s laws will be fined SR15,000 and deported (if expat); second-time violators will be fined SR30,000, deported and jailed for 3 months. Third-time offenders, meanwhile, will pay a SR100,000 fine and serve a six-month jail sentence before being deported.
An individual employer who allows his workers to work for others or for their personal accounts will be fined SR15,000 and deported (if expat) and prevented from recruitment for one year. For the second-time violators, the punishments are: a SR30,000 fine, deportation, three-month jail and ban on recruitment for two years; third time and more: SR100,000 fine, deportation, six-month jail and ban on recruitment for five years.
Expats who fail to report delays in the departure of overstaying employees will be fined SR15,000 and face deportation (if expat) for the first time, SR25,000, jail for three months and deportation the second time, and SR50,000, a six-month jail term and deportation the third time.
The ministry said that companies and organizations that fail to inform authorities about Haj or Umrah overstayers would be fined SR25,000 the first time round, SR50,000 the second time and SR100,000 the third time round or any time after that.
Meanwhile, institutions that employ intruders will be fined SR50,000 the first time such an offense is committed, in addition to being banned from recruiting employees for an entire year. The manager will be jailed for six months and deported if he is an expat.
Second time offenders will incur a SR75,000 fine and a recruitment ban for two years, in addition to the manager being jailed for one year and deported. Third time offenders will be liable to pay SR100,000 fine, face a recruitment ban for five years and face a two-year jail term and deportation.
Institutions that employ violators of residency and labor laws or allow their workers to work for other employers, independently or employ employees from other companies will be fined SR25,000, banned from recruitment for a year and have the expat manager deported; second time SR50,000 fine, recruitment ban for two years with shaming, and the manager will be jailed for six months and deported; and third time and more: SR100,000 fine, recruitment ban for five years with shaming and the manager will be jailed for a year and deported.


Forget the cost, Saudi love affair with oud makes perfect scents

Forget the cost, Saudi love affair with oud makes perfect scents
Updated 35 min 54 sec ago

Forget the cost, Saudi love affair with oud makes perfect scents

Forget the cost, Saudi love affair with oud makes perfect scents
  • Fans of traditional fragrance stay loyal despite fast-rising prices

RIYADH: The traditional scent of oud enjoys an enduring popularity among Saudis, but high prices and uncertainty about quality are making many think twice before buying it.

Oud is extracted during winter from trees aged between 70 and 150 years and growing up to 20 meters in height.

These trees generally grow in tropical areas in Asia, especially on mountains and hillsides in India, Cambodia, Vietnam, Indonesia and Malaysia.

Gulf countries are the major importers of oud.

Wood oud emits an enjoyable fragrance when burned. Made of aromatic plants, wood oud has been increasingly mixed with aromatic oils in recent years. In Saudi Arabia, people often put wood oud in an electronic incense burner to deliver the desired fragrance.

Bader Al-Mansuri, a Saudi consumer, said that oud is an important tradition in Saudi society and is used for special social occasions as well as religious events, such as the Friday prayer.

Cambodian oud is the go-to option for most Saudis when shopping for the traditional fragrance, followed by the Morki and Kalamantan.

“My favorite is Cambodian oud, which I have been using for a long time,” Al-Mansuri told Arab News. “It’s part of our family tradition and culture, and my grandparents used it and passed it down to us. Oud has a positive moral impact, and is a sign of generosity and respect when you have visitors.”

Al-Mansuri that he only buys oud from well-known brands and companies.

Hammad Al-Shouraihi, another consumer, is a regular user of oud and buys 2 kg every year at a cost ranging from SR4,500 ($1,200) to SR6,000.

“When the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) emerged, I bought oud off websites instead of going to incense shops,” he said, adding that it is difficult to judge the quality of oud bought online since the buyer cannot test the fragrance.

In addition to Cambodian oud, Al-Shouraihi also enjoys the Morki variety as well as other types with mixed substances.

“Vintage Cambodian oud, which is stored for longer periods, is the best. It is an ideal gift for friends or family members,” he said. “I love all perfumes that have oud fragrance or scent. The pandemic has affected oud purchases due to the way it is used and fears that it can transmit the virus.”

However, Ahmed Al-Mutairi believes the pandemic has had little impact on the oud industry.

He buys 100 gm of liquid oud and quarter a kilo of wood oud, paying about SR5,000 for his purchases every year.

“Some oud vendors on streets demand a high price, but they reduce the price to half after one bargains with them,” Al-Mutair told Arab News.

Hassan Al-Rashdi, a sales officer at Nada Oud Store, said that sales reach 5 kg  some days and 10 kg other days.

“Some people prefer different types of oud qualities,” he added, noting that a kilogram of oud can range between SR500-SR5,000, based on its quality and origin.

Al-Rashdi told Arab News that some Saudis prefer the Kalamantan variety. However, he believes Morki oud is the most popular incense for parties, official events and use in mosques.

Khalid Al-Johani, the owner of an online oud store, agrees that Morki oud is the most popular variety among his clients, followed by Kalamantan and Indian in terms of quality.

According to Al-Johani, Indian liquid oud is preferred by the elderly, though Thai oud is fast gaining in popularity.

“To judge the quality of oud, one should check the scent, weight, color and size,” he said.

“Most people buy oud based on the recommendations of others. But experts always check the quality of oud products inside out and ask about the substances inside and the structure.”

Women often prefer liquid mixtures, while men prefer wood oud, Al-Johani said.

Some people are superstitious and believe that oud can cast out devils and genies, he said. However, people say they feel “relieved” and “in good mood” after they smell incense.

Most sales take place before and during Ramadan as well as Eid Al-Adha holidays, he added.

Zaid Al-Qaoud, chairman of Oud Albaraka, said that sales of oud have plummeted in the past year due to the absence of parties and weddings.

“Sales have fallen by 80 percent compared with the previous years,” he told Arab News. “Demand has also decreased because of coronavirus and many people have turned to social media websites to buy oud.”

Most oud stores can be found in central Riyadh, which has about 400 outlets, he added.

“Indonesian oud is very popular in the Gulf region and is the main source of many types of oud in the market that come with different scents.”

He added that old oud gives a better and more beautiful smell than newer products.

It can be difficult for regular consumers to distinguish a high-quality oud from an inferior product. “People have different tastes for oud, but most of them cannot tell original oud from a false one.”

Al-Qaoud, who has been in the business for 20 years, said that many Europeans in Saudi Arabia understand the quality of oud, recalling a regular French customer who said: “I have never smelled a sweet smell like the Taif roses and oud oil.”

Ayed Al-Falih, who is interested in artefacts, said incense burners are made of a type of wood found in Hail farms, with a price ranging between SR100 and SR500.


Saudi, Somali envoys discuss OIC cooperation

Saudi, Somali envoys discuss OIC cooperation
Updated 49 min 52 sec ago

Saudi, Somali envoys discuss OIC cooperation

Saudi, Somali envoys discuss OIC cooperation
  • The envoys discussed ways to enhance their cooperation

JEDDAH: Saleh Hamad Al-Suhaibani, Saudi Arabia’s permanent representative to the Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC), met with his Somali counterpart Dr. Abdur Razzaq Sead Abdi on Wednesday.

The envoys discussed ways to enhance their cooperation as the OIC aims to serve Islamic causes in the midst of current challenges.

The two sides also discussed areas of joint Islamic action and how to best serve the OIC and its 35 active bodies and institutions. Al-Suhaibani said cooperation and coordination among the organization's bodies are a top priority for Saudi Arabia.

Abdi stressed the importance of lasting peace, stability and development within Somalia. He also praised the Kingdom for the humanitarian support and developmental contributions it provides to the Somali people.


World Bank highlights Saudi progress in women’s legal reforms

The Kingdom’s strong performance comes as a result of a raft of reforms implemented last year to further expand female participation in the economy. (Reuters/File Photo)
The Kingdom’s strong performance comes as a result of a raft of reforms implemented last year to further expand female participation in the economy. (Reuters/File Photo)
Updated 24 February 2021

World Bank highlights Saudi progress in women’s legal reforms

The Kingdom’s strong performance comes as a result of a raft of reforms implemented last year to further expand female participation in the economy. (Reuters/File Photo)
  • The increase in performance was notable in five indicators on which it scored at the top of the scale

JEDDAH: Saudi Arabia continues to make notable progress in women’s economic inclusion and empowerment, according to a World Bank report.

The World Bank Group’s “Women, Business and the Law (WBL)” report, released on Feb. 23, showed that the Kingdom scored higher than last year on a global measure of legal reforms to boost gender equality. 

On a scale of one to 100, Saudi Arabia scored 80 in 2021, up from 70.6 in 2020. 

The increase in performance was notable in five indicators on which it scored at the top of the scale: Mobility, workplace, pay, entrepreneurship and pension.

These scores put Saudi Arabia on a par with many advanced economies with long traditions of women’s legal reforms. 

The Kingdom’s strong performance comes as a result of a raft of reforms implemented last year to further expand female participation in the economy.

Saudi Arabia equalized women’s access to the labor market, lifted restrictions on their employment in sectors previously considered unsafe, and eliminated a ban on women’s night work. 

Last year’s report ranked Saudi Arabia as the world’s top reformer in advancing women’s economic participation for 2019, a recognition of the legislative policies the country established to boost female participation in the workforce, which it aims to increase from an average of just under 20 percent to more than 40 percent as part of Vision 2030.

Commenting on the report, Majid Al-Qasabi, commerce minister and chairman of the National Competitiveness Center, said that the Kingdom’s performance reflects King Salman’s commitment to enabling Saudi women to fully participate in the social and economic development of the country. It also reflects Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman’s efforts to ensure an effective whole-of-government approach to implementing women’s legal reforms.

Saudi Arabia’s reforms build on changes implemented since the launch of Vision 2030 in 2016, including lifting restrictions on women’s mobility, equalizing access to public services, guaranteeing equal benefits in the labor market, and instituting protections against harassment in the workplace and in public spaces. 

The WBL, a yearly publication by the World Bank Group, assesses women’s legal reforms in 190 countries, using an index with eight indicators: Mobility, pay, parenthood, assets, workplace, marriage, entrepreneurship and pension.


Saudi and Omani foreign ministers meet in Muscat

Saudi and Omani foreign ministers meet in Muscat
Updated 24 February 2021

Saudi and Omani foreign ministers meet in Muscat

Saudi and Omani foreign ministers meet in Muscat
  • The foreign ministers reviewed ways to support trade, investment and tourism opportunities
  • Prince Faisal arrived in Muscat earlier on Wednesday and has left the sultanate

LONDON: Saudi Arabia’s foreign minister met his Omani counterpart during a visit to the Gulf state on Wednesday.
During the meeting, Prince Faisal bin Farhan and Sayyed Badr Al-Busaidi discussed the importance of joint Gulf action within the framework of the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) and following up on the results of the AlUla summit hosted by the Kingdom in January.
They also discussed bilateral relations and ways to strengthen cooperation in various fields that would lead to mutual benefits.
The foreign ministers reviewed ways to support trade, investment and tourism opportunities and developing scientific cooperation in the areas of energy, technology, transportation, cybersecurity, health and agriculture.
Prince Faisal arrived in Muscat earlier on Wednesday and has left the sultanate.


Saudi Arabia allows citizens married to foreigners to travel through border points

Saudi Arabia allows citizens married to foreigners to travel through border points
Updated 24 February 2021

Saudi Arabia allows citizens married to foreigners to travel through border points

Saudi Arabia allows citizens married to foreigners to travel through border points
  • Saudis married to non-Saudis will be able to travel with spouses or join spouses abroad

RIYADH: Saudi Arabia has authorized citizens married to foreigners to travel through border points, a measure meant to facilitate their movements while international air travel is suspended because of the pandemic, state TV reported on Wednesday.
“The General Directorate of Passports announced the issuance of the royal decree to enable Saudi women married to non-Saudis to travel, whether accompanied by their husbands or joining their husbands abroad, upon providing proof of marriage certificate to officials at the port of departure,” a statement on Saudi Press Agency said.
The same applies for Saudi men married to non-Saudi women, whether they reside outside of the Kingdom due to work or other circumstances preventing them from coming to the country, the statement added.
The passports authority said that in the event that citizens are not able to provide documents proving their spouse is outside the Kingdom and unable to return, then they can apply for a travel permit via the Absher application.

(With Reuters)