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Saudi Arabia pardons 30,000 Egyptian visa violators: Egyptian minister

Ahram Online , Monday 20 Mar 2017
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Egypt's expatriate affairs minister Nabila Makram announced on Monday that Saudi Arabia has decided to pardon 30,000 Egyptians accused of visa violations in the country, state news agency MENA reported.

The pardon exempts the Egyptians from punitive measures including deportation, a 10-year ban from entering Saudi Arabia, and the taking away of financial, educational and work privileges.

Makram expressed her gratitude to Saudi authorities, while calling on Egyptians abroad to respect the laws of their host countries.

Saudi interior ministry spokesman Mansour Al-Torky told Saudi newspaper Okaz on Monday that Saudi authorities will give the Egyptians 90 days to adjust their status and leave the country without deportation, which would allow them to return to Saudi Arabia in the future.

In 2014, Saudi Arabia implemented a new system requiring foreign nationals performing the pilgrimage to Mecca to fulfill a number of requirements including demonstrating valid pilgrimage visas at the time of departure.

Some 2.5 million foreign nationals have been deported since the implementation of the new system, according to Al-Torky said.

Talks have been ongoing between Egypt and Saudi Arabia regarding the deportation of Egyptian families who violate residency and pilgrimage regulations.

Hundreds of Egyptians in Saudi Arabia have implored Egyptian authorities to intervene on their behalf, saying they are unable to work or have access to banks, education, or residences. 

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