A foreign worker displays his passport as he waits outside a
labour office to correct his visa status. - Reuters
Over 4,000 'illegal' expats held in Saudi raids
Jeddah, November 5, 2013
Thousands of illegal workers were rounded up in a series of raids across Saudi Arabia following the expiry of the the amnesty period for expatriates to legalise work on Sunday, a report said.
In Jeddah alone, 3,918 undocumented expats were arrested and in Madinah police raids netted 300 illegals, said the Arab News report.
Hundreds of business owners across the kingdom closed their shops anticipating raids and "illegal" expatriates stayed home.
Commercial activity at the Jeddah Islamic Port dropped and food prices spiked, said the Arab News report.
Meanwhile, in Jeddah, at least 3,000 Indonesians gathered to protest their inability to obtain legal status. “We had tried for weeks to regularize our status, but officials are insisting we bring our original passports and other documents which we are unable to do,” one illegal worker was quoted as saying by Arab News.
The report also quoted Abdulmeneem Al-Shehri, head of the Jeddah Labor Office, as saying: “The Ministry of Labor has a strategic plan for its inspection mission. The mission has started and will continue to be conducted by highly qualified staff displaying their official badges.”
The raids followed a seven-month grace period, which allowed foreigners working illegally in Saudi Arabia to obtain proper papers.
Workers in unskilled positions, part-time office workers under the sponsorship of their parents and international schoolteachers have been particularly hard hit, the report said.
The Ministry of Labor offices will continue to help workers who have already applied for sponsorship transfer to complete the process this week, according to Al-Shehri.