Previously as known by everyone, expats who basically are foreigners living in Saudi Arabia and earning for their families, could live and work here for a long time till they wish for. There was no limit to it till they hold a valid Iqama. But recently Wall Street Journal has reported that a law is going to be implemented according to which the expats stay should be limited to 8 years only. This proposal was denied by the labor ministry at once. But in the previous week, it is heard that this proposal has been looked upon and considered to be implemented by Ministry source.[irp]
The local media also tells us that this law won’t be implemented all at once because they might face an adverse reaction by the employers and workers for the restriction suddenly. They will implement this law in steps so that it is soft and lenient in the beginning and the labor and employers can accept it easily. On Friday in the Wall Street Journal, this news was published with a caption of “squeezing Saudi law for foreigners” as it puts a restriction on expats. It is also said that the Kingdom planned this law for foreign workers to remove them and give chance to their local Saudis to reduce the unemployment rate and countering the lower oil prices.
The news was specially targeted on workers with low income especially drivers, maids, and assistants. There was no authentic source or name of any higher official taken. But it did use International Monetary Fund’s data (IMF) on various economic indicators like the unemployment rate and expat workforce. The ministry spokesmen, Tayseer Al Mufrej previously denied the news about this law but it came to light that this proposal is lined up with the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) to limit the expats stay.
Chairman of the contractor’s committee named Khalifa Al Dabeeb at the Eastern Province Chamber of Commerce and Industry was against this law. According to him, companies then need to fire their experienced workers which are not good in the interest of the companies. Instead, he gave a solution to limit expats stay in a company so that they can work in some other company under new contract. Wall Street Journal report stated that expats make a quarter of Saudi population of which 85% are low skilled. Even the Saudi locals make most of the part of government sector getting twice salaries than the private sector.[irp]
The report also cleared that there is more unemployment ratio among the locals reaching to 11.5% whereas the percentage of unemployment among expats is just 0.2% per Saudi’s Central Department of Statistics and Information. In the 1970s during the oil boom, the Kingdom imported work labor to hire in cheap salaries for infrastructure buildup and progress. This went on and till today there are millions of expats working in Saudi Arabia on a very low income including the drivers, housemaids, assistants, construction workers and others. Even they have their 2nd and 3rd generations over here.
Source: Wall Street Journal