Thousands of Egyptians facing visa troubles in Saudi Arabia

Bassem Abo Alabass, Wednesday 27 Nov 2013

Egyptians facing possible deportation from Saudi Arabia as visa rules are tightened

Alaa Awad
Alaa Awad the advisor to Egypt’s Manpower Minister (Photo: Al-Ahram)

Around 38,000 Egyptians are struggling to solve their work permit disputes in Saudi Arabia, an advisor to Egypt's manpower minister has told Ahram Online.

Alaa Awad said Egypt had been working with the Saudis for three months to settle the work permit disputes of 120,000 expatriates, 40 percent of whom had prolonged their stay after performing Islamic pilgrimages.

“Over the past month the Egyptian government has resolved the status of 82,000 expatriates,” Awad said.

There are 1.6 to 2 million Egyptians working in Saudi Arabia from a total expat population of eight million.

Egypt’s ambassador in Riyadh, Afifi Abdel-Wahhab, said around 40,000 Egyptians left the kingdom last month, Al-Ahram Arabic news website reported on Wednesday.

Yemen, Egypt, Lebanon, Ethiopia, India, Pakistan, Sri Lanka, Bangladesh, Indonesia and the Philippines all have large numbers of citizens working in Saudi Arabia and all rely heavily on their remittances.

Saudi Arabia has told foreign workers - about a third of its 27 million population - to make sure their visas are in order or they will face deportation. This came as part of a series of reforms over the last two years to free up jobs for Saudi citizens, 12 percent of whom are unemployed, according to official data.

The Saudi government has introduced a levy of 2,400 riyals ($640) on each foreign worker employed by a company over the number of Saudi nationals it employs. The fee is payable each year when an expatriate's work permit is renewed.

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