Deportation: New Saudi laws threaten overseas Pakistanis

Pakistan conveys concerns to Saudi Aabia regarding the laws which may result in deportation of Pakistanis.

Kamran Yousaf April 12, 2013
Saudi Arabia amends its labour laws, setting tough restrictions for overseas workers to qualify for employment. ILLUSTRATION: JAMAL KHURSHID


Pakistan has conveyed its concerns to Saudi Arabia regarding the kingdom’s new labour laws, which may lead to the deportation of hundreds of thousands of expatriates, including Pakistanis, from the country.

Last month, Saudi Arabia amended its labour laws, setting tough restrictions for overseas workers to qualify for employment. The new changes barred sponsors from letting their workers work for others. They also barred them from employing workers of other sponsors, which resulted in employees being bound to work with their sponsors only.

At the same time, the Saudi labor ministry recently launched a crackdown against the foreign owners of small and medium sized enterprises (SMEs).

According to the labour ministry, there were at least 250,000 SMEs that didn’t employ a single Saudi worker and most of those firms were run by foreigners.

Reports indicate that at least 2 million expatriates may lose their jobs or leave the kingdom shortly due to the new laws. A large number of expatriates, including Indians, Pakistanis, Yemenis and many others have been arrested for violating residential permit and labour regulations.

Speaking at his weekly news briefing here on Thursday, foreign ministry spokesman Aizaz Ahmed Chaudhry said Pakistan was in close contact with Saudi authorities to ‘facilitate and protect the interests of overseas Pakistanis in Saudi Arabia.’

The spokesman said President Asif Zardari wrote a letter to Saudi King Abdullah bin Abdul Aziz requesting him to facilitate overseas Pakistanis there.

“We are heartened to note the announcement made by the Saudi government that it has given a three month grace period to all Pakistanis to fulfill their legal requirements,” he added.

US Travel Advisory

In a reply to a question, the spokesman attempted to play down the recent advisory issued by the United States for its citizens to avoid travelling to Pakistan due to the security situation.

Published in The Express Tribune, April 12th, 2013.


A reader | 11 years ago | Reply

Pakistan's high fertility rate and population problem is not Saudi Arabia's responsibility.

numbersnumbers | 11 years ago | Reply

The bigger story here is that Saudi Arabia is changing its labor laws to reduce the severe unemployment rate among Saudi nationals by restricting foreign labor! As foreign nationals are forced out of the country, the local businesses will have to hire Saudi nationals at a higher wage rate than the foreign workers were willing to work for in many service industry fields!

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