6 Egyptians deported from Saudi Arabia as 'sponsor' dilemma lingers

Ahram Online , Monday 27 May 2013

Strict new rules about the legal sponsorship of foreign workers has led to mass deportations from the kingdom

Six Egyptians in Saudi Arabia were repatriated to Egypt on Monday following a disagreement with their employment sponsors.

Under new restrictions imposed in March by the oil-rich kingdom, foreigners are only allowed to work for their legal sponsors and are not authorised to work independently, even if their employers approve. Saudi authorities gave all foreign workers a three-month period to ensure their status conforms to the new rules.

Many foreign workers enter Saudi Arabia under the sponsorship of a Saudi national but end up working for others, or set up their own businesses.

Sponsors of the extradited Egyptians reportedly refused to pay them their salaries or give them back their passports.

Foreign workers in the Gulf are frequently subject to unlawful confiscation of passports, withholding of wages and other abuses. They are also forced to pay their sponsors thousands of riyals to secure a renewal of their work permits

The Egyptian employees were arrested by Saudi authorities and later issued with temporary travel documents, before they were deported to Egypt  

More than 6,000 Egyptian workers stormed the Egyptian consulate in Jeddah on 16 May, seeking a resolution to their status under the new rules, whether through new employment, legal mechanisms or deportation.

The Egyptian embassy for its part said in a Monday statement it was taking necessary measures to facilitate such procedures for Egyptian expatriates in the kingdom.

The Egyptian ambassador to Saudi Arabia, Afifi Abdel-Wahab, also said he had been holding several meeting with Saudi officials to address the problems of Egyptian workers in the kingdom.

The new rules, which aim to reduce the number of foreign workers and create jobs for millions of unemployed Saudis, have affected millions of expatriates in the Gulf state and resulted in mass deportations of migrant workers.

According to immigration officials some 200,000 people, mostly Asians and Yemenis, have already been expelled from the kingdom in the past three months due to the new restrictions.

Saudi Arabia has eight million foreign workers according to official figures.

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