Expats in Saudi Arabia welcome call for business fees for hiring them to be proportionate to wages

Expats in Saudi Arabia welcome call for business fees for hiring them to be proportionate to wages
In January 2018, Saudi Arabia introduced a fixed monthly fee, payable when a work permit (iqama) is extended, of SR400 ($107) for each foreign worker a business hires. (AFP/File)
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Updated 17 September 2021

Expats in Saudi Arabia welcome call for business fees for hiring them to be proportionate to wages

Expats in Saudi Arabia welcome call for business fees for hiring them to be proportionate to wages
  • However they say the proposal by a Shoura Council member should also include the monthly fees they pay for dependents

RIYADH: Expatriate workers in Saudi Arabia on Thursday welcomed official calls for the fees businesses pay to hire foreigners to be revised so that they are proportionate to employees’ wages.
However they said that the fees expatriates themselves have to pay for dependents who live with them in the Kingdom should also be reviewed so that they, too, are wage proportionate.
The proposal for proportionate fees came this week from Hazza Al-Qahtani, a member of the Shoura Council. He said that the charges have become an obstacle to growth for small and medium enterprises in the Kingdom and need to be reviewed to help reduce their operating costs and ensure growth and sustainability.
In January 2018, Saudi Arabia introduced a fixed monthly fee, payable when a work permit (iqama) is extended, of SR400 ($107) for each foreign worker a business hires. It was reduced to SR300 for those that employ at least as many Saudis as expatriates. It increased to SR600 or SR500 in 2019 and to SR800 or SR700 last year.
Sultana Al-Badawi, also a member of the Shoura Council, said SMEs are facing challenges because of the financial burdens imposed on them and the administrative requirements dictated by a number of official bodies. She called for a review of procedures and an assessment the impact they have on the establishments.
Expatriates in the Kingdom said that they hope the fixed fees that they have to pay for their dependents living in the Kingdom will also be reviewed and made proportional to their wages.
Faiz Al-Najdi, a Pakistani expatriate working in Yanbu told Arab News: “What I understand is that it is a proposal to provide relief to the SMEs, which as of this year have to pay SR800 for each foreign worker before renewal of the iqama.”
But, he added, this will not provide any financial relief for the expatriate workers themselves, who have to pay SR400 a month for each family member living with them in the Kingdom. “It would be indeed a great relief to them if this levy is reduced or made proportional to income,” said Al-Najdi.
Raafat Aoun, a Lebanese national living in Jeddah, told Arab News that he has been waiting for almost two years for an announcement that the dependent fees will be abolished or reduced.
“It is good that a Shoura Council member is proposing to make expatriate fees proportional to income, but it should be both for companies and the expatriates who are paying for family dependents,” he said.
He said that both fees are huge financial burdens and added: “It is affecting the business of the SMEs. It is also not viable for expatriates to keep their families in the Kingdom. Decisions to reduce it or make it proportional to income will surely energize business activities and so add to the gross domestic product of the Kingdom, though I would prefer the expatriates fee to be abolished.”
Mohammad Arshad Ali Khan, a teacher at International Indian Public School in Riyadh, also welcomed the proposal.
“Saudi Arabia is a second home for all expatriates and we are looking for a favorable humanitarian decision from the Kingdom of humanity, which is undergoing changes as part of Crown Prince Mohammad bin Salman’s ambitious economic and social reforms,” he told Arab News.


Attempt to smuggle Captagon pills into Saudi Arabia thwarted

Attempt to smuggle Captagon pills into Saudi Arabia thwarted
Updated 27 sec ago

Attempt to smuggle Captagon pills into Saudi Arabia thwarted

Attempt to smuggle Captagon pills into Saudi Arabia thwarted
  • More than 5.2 million pills were found hidden in a consignment at Al-Haditha crossing on Friday
  • Port authorities said the pills were found “crushed” and hidden in a consignment of “carbonate powder” bags

JEDDAH: Saudi Arabia’s Zakat, Tax and Customs Authority has prevented an attempt to smuggle Captagon amphetamine pills.

More than 5.2 million pills were found hidden in a consignment at Al-Haditha crossing on Friday.

Port authorities said that after an inspection of a suspicious truck and its cargo, the pills were found “crushed” and hidden in a consignment of “carbonate powder” bags.

One person was arrested by the General Directorate of Narcotics Control. The Zakat, Tax and Customs Authority confirmed that it is continuing to tighten control over the Kingdom’s imports and combat smuggling attempts.


Saudi Arabia announces one more COVID-19 death in record low

Saudi Arabia announces one more COVID-19 death in record low
Updated 22 October 2021

Saudi Arabia announces one more COVID-19 death in record low

Saudi Arabia announces one more COVID-19 death in record low
  • The total number of recoveries in the Kingdom has increased to 537,208
  • A total of 8,774 people have succumbed to the virus in the Kingdom so far

RIYADH: Saudi Arabia announced one death from COVID-19 and 51 new infections on Friday.

Of the new cases, 13 were recorded in Riyadh, 11 in Jeddah, three in Makkah, two in Qatif, two in Dhahran, two in AlUla, and two in Hafar Al-Batin. Several other cities recorded one new case each.

The total number of recoveries in the Kingdom increased to 537,208 after 59 more patients recovered from the virus.

A total of 8,774 people have succumbed to the virus in the Kingdom so far.

Over 45 million doses of a coronavirus vaccine have been administered in the Kingdom to date.


Who’s Who: Abdulrahman Al-Nimari, chief information security officer at KSA’s Rock Solid Group

Who’s Who: Abdulrahman Al-Nimari, chief information security officer at KSA’s Rock Solid Group
Updated 22 October 2021

Who’s Who: Abdulrahman Al-Nimari, chief information security officer at KSA’s Rock Solid Group

Who’s Who: Abdulrahman Al-Nimari, chief information security officer at KSA’s Rock Solid Group

Abdulrahman Al-Nimari has been the chief information security officer at Rock Solid Group since August.

A cybersecurity expert and regular conference speaker, he has more than 25 years of experience in the information technology and cybersecurity sectors.

At RSG, he is responsible for developing and implementing a strategic, long-term information security strategy and roadmap to ensure that data assets are adequately protected.

He has been an independent cybersecurity architect and consultant since 2019.

From September 2017 to June 2019, he was lead cybersecurity systems architect for ManTech International Corp. where he was in charge of developing security strategies and utilizing new technologies to enhance security capabilities and implement improvements.

Between March and August 2017, he held the position of chief enterprise security architect at Security Matterz.

Al-Nimari was technical manager and senior security consultant at Riyadh Business Machines from August 2013 to February 2017, and an IT manager at the Ministry of Education between January 2008 and July 2013.

During his time with the ministry, he also worked as cybersecurity team leader on a major education system project and was a network and system administrator and supervisor.

He gained a bachelor’s degree in English from Umm Al-Qura University.

Al-Nimari has headed numerous cybersecurity initiatives and projects for government and private-sector bodies.

He pointed out that all members of society had a duty to be aware about cybersecurity. “It is our role to participate in protecting the cyberspace of our beloved Saudi Arabia,” he said.


Saudi FM discusses Iran nuclear talks with EU envoy — statement

Saudi FM discusses Iran nuclear talks with EU envoy — statement
Updated 22 October 2021

Saudi FM discusses Iran nuclear talks with EU envoy — statement

Saudi FM discusses Iran nuclear talks with EU envoy — statement

CAIRO: Saudi foreign minister Prince Faisal bin Farhan Al-Saud discussed the Iran nuclear talks with the European Union envoy coordinating talks on reviving the Iran nuclear deal, Enrique Mora, the Saudi Foreign ministry said on Thursday.
“They discussed developments regarding the Iranian nuclear program talks, and international efforts to ensure that Iran does not violate international agreements and treaties in this regard,” it added in a statement.


‘Open library’: Tourists in AlUla glimpse distant past in Ikmah’s ancient inscriptions

‘Open library’: Tourists in AlUla glimpse distant past in Ikmah’s ancient inscriptions
Updated 22 October 2021

‘Open library’: Tourists in AlUla glimpse distant past in Ikmah’s ancient inscriptions

‘Open library’: Tourists in AlUla glimpse distant past in Ikmah’s ancient inscriptions

ALULA: Imagine stepping back into a time before cell phones, emails, or even paper. During this era, documenting important moments was simplified to sketching on rocks.
This is Ikmah mountain, or the “open library” as it is referred to by AlUla’s locals. AlUla was a highlight on the trading route many took through the Arabian Peninsula. Travelers stopped at the mountain to document their stories or carve their names for those who came after them.
“We call Ikmah the ‘open library.’ If you want to know why it has this name, have a look around for a few seconds and you will see inscriptions all over the mountain,” Amal Aljahani, an expert Rawi storyteller, told Arab News.

Ikmah has over 500 inscriptions from the Dadan and Lihyan civilization. The earliest texts from the mountain have been studied and translated by historians and archeologists and have been dated back to the ninth and 10th century B.C. 
The languages in the mountain include Aramaic, Thamudic, Dadanitic, Minaen, Nabatean, Greek, Latin, and Arabic. An important area for historians, Arabic linguistics experts, and archaeologists, the mountain offers a look back into the pre-Arabic era.
Tourists from the Kingdom and international visitors gather for hours to sit in front of the high peaks and observe the delicate techniques of the ancient language that turned into the modern Arabic letters we know today.

Some inscriptions were written by the region’s professional scribes while others were merely sketches by travellers and locals passing by years ago.
Many of these messages differed in meaning, some surviving inscriptions are names written in the ancient Arabic text, but many involve tales of the ongoing events of the local community.
These inscriptions described the kings who ruled the land, the religious beliefs of the people, and sometimes notes for other visitors.
Ikmah held a high place in the hearts of the locals and travelers. It was a sacred ground for pagan worship and sacrifice along with documentation.  One of the inscriptions on the mountains was written by a woman named “Mirwa,” who carved her name into the rocks and detailed an offering she made to her deity.

“The woman used to come here and give her deity offerings to bless her and her children. The inscription says the deity blessed her and her children. Those are the kinds of things the people wrote here on this beautiful mountain,” Aljahani said.
Mirwa returned to add another inscription that her prayers were answered and her sons were blessed.
Some of these inscriptions are personal, while others are names or drawings of animals and musical instruments.
The oldest inscription in the Islamic era — known as the Naqsh Zuhayr — and the earliest glimpses into the Arabic language are documented on the east side. The inscriptions date back to 644 A.D.
The mountain hosts different inscription methods, Aljahani said, such as “carving inside the alphabet to be clearer.”
He added: “The second way is what we call the 3D way. It is the hardest method. They beautifully carved in between the alphabet letters using sand stones for the message to be clearer.”
In 2017, the Royal Commission of AlUla closed the mountain to begin preparation for the public to visit. Ikmah is now prepared and open to the public under the commission’s supervision.

 

The rebirth of AlUla
Hegra, ancient city of the Nabataeans in Saudi Arabia’s historic AlUla Valley, is emerging from the mists of time to take its rightful place as one of the wonders of the world
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