Saudi amnesty extension gives hope to illegal expats

Published:  28 Jun at 6 PM
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Saudi Arabia’s amnesty deadline for illegal expat workers to either leave or regularise their positions will now be extended for at least another three months.

The kingdom’s Labour Ministry announced the extended amnesty to all authorities as well as to businesses, and the extension is being seen as a response to an overwhelming demand by business owners and expat workers themselves. Diplomats from a host of countries including the Philippines, Egypt and India have also been requesting an extension.

According to MD of ALJ Community Initiatives, Ibrahim Badawood, the news will help businesses and the workers themselves, as the loss of high numbers of experienced staff was about to have a devastating effect on Saudi’s service industry. Badawood added that the chaos created by ongoing illegal practices could not have been dealt with over the three months originally given and now needs six months to be fully regulated.

At the present time, only 1.5 million of an estimated eight million expat workers have been able to regularise their status under the terms of the amnesty. Fahd al Hammadi, chair of the National Committee for Contractors, said the extension had been expected due to the enormous pressure being put on the Labour Ministry.

A representative from the Madinah Chamber of Commerce and Industry said that around 700,000 businesses had been operating illegally, and Saudi business leaders believe that the process of legalisation can help to streamline the local labour market and benefit the kingdom.
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