Impact of new Saudi labour laws causes widespread chaos

Published:  11 Nov at 6 PM
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Tagged: Visas, Australia
The impact of Saudi Arabia’s new labour laws which forced a million foreign workers to leave is now being felt in rising costs, shortage of workers and human dramas.

Saudi and expat professionals are beginning to report that freelance workers have all but disappeared from the Kingdom, and are being forced to resort to local service companies which charge 100 per cent more for plumbers, electricians, carpenters and the like. Many Saudi businesses, already struggling with a shortage of affordable labour, are expected to close down as a result.

Saudi authorities are stating that, although pockets will be hit in the short-term, the radical changes in the law will benefit the country in the long run by improving the planning capabilities of the government. The departed workforce, they insist, had resulted in an oversupply of labour.

However, the many interracial couples in the Kingdom are unlikely to agree, as the new labour laws have mired them in insecurity. Many now cannot live in Saudi, and are unable to get visas to enter their spouse’s country of origin, leaving them no alternative but to separate, with workers from overseas being forced to desert their wives and children.

According to the authorities, the only option for families caught in this trap is for the worker to pay a fine and register legally, with the Labour Ministry now extending yet again its applications deadline. However, those unable to do so and caught in police raids will face other penal measures and will not be elegible for an exemption.

A high number of expat and private companies have temporarily closed in order to avoid repeated police raids on their premises. Those businesses with ‘Closed’ signs on their doors will, according to officials, be subject to more raids and questioning, and the Riyadh Chamber of Commerce denies that the new law and its harsh implementation will have any effect on the Kingdom’s overall economy.
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