New Saudi ruling threatens expat deportation and lifetime bans

Published:  22 May at 6 PM
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Tagged: Visas, Australia
Saudi Arabia is now threatening deportation for expats disobeying coronavirus lockdown rules.

Expats living and working in Saudi Arabia are now under threat of deportation and a permanent bar on re-entry for any foreigner who flouts the Kingdom’s strict shop-related lockdown laws. In addition, strict guidelines as regards social distancing and including banned gatherings outside large stores and malls have also been announced.

For shops and other commercial establishments, numbers of permitted shoppers must be monitored, with harsh fines levied against commercial outlets flouting the rules either inside or outside their business premises. Expat residents who contravene the laws will be deported and prevented from ever returning. Punishments for business owners not in compliance with the new rulings will include a fine of $1,330 to be levied for each single shopper found to be extra to the stated capacity of each venue. Private sector businesses contravening the law will be forcibly closed for three months, with a second violation rating a six-month closure.

Under the new rules, gatherings of over five people are banned under threat of penalties including fines as the kingdom now has the worst outbreak of all states in the Arab world, with recorded cases now standing at 60,000 and 329 deaths to date. Saudi’s toughening up on its large expatriate community may well come as an unpleasant surprise to many foreign residents, as just a month ago they were praising its decision to fund the treatment of expatriates who contracted the virus.

Many media reports also stated expat professionals working in the kingdom weren’t considering voluntary repatriation as the government’s safeguarding actions were reassuring. Considering the new threat of deportation and a lifetime ban, it now remains to be seen how many expats change their minds in the near future rather than chancing falling foul of the new laws by accident.
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