Qualified foreigners putting on the garb of laborers to enter Saudi
Several skilled expatriates enter the Kingdom on laborer work visas, because it is difficult to get a work visa to match their qualifications
November 13, 2008 12:02 by kippreport
Apparently, Saudi Arabia is the place to be. Arab News says that many highly qualified foreigners claim to be laborers in their official documents so that that they canqualify for work visas.
Academically qualified foreigners opt towrite low job descriptions on their papers because professions thatsuit their educational and experiential backgrounds are restrictedto Saudis under a job nationalization program by the Ministry ofLabor. Once in the Kingdom, such foreigners take up jobs that matchtheir qualifications, instead of working as laborers and other low-level jobs as mentioned on their visas. An Arab expatriate, who preferred not to be named, told Arab News that although he is listed as a laborer on both his passport and iqama (residence permit), he has been the CEO of a private company for several years. “I am a
chartered accountant, but I accepted the occupation of laborer on my passport and iqama so that the Passport Department and the Labor Office would not object to renewing my iqama every two years,” he said.
Ayman A, an Egyptian with a bachelor’s degree in science,came to the Kingdom as a laborer but is working in a company that produces foodstuffs. “I accepted the occupation of laborer because it would enable me to enter into the Kingdom and also renew my iqama. This is despite the fact that people with such positions are deprived of many benefits, including the right to bring families to live with them or on visit visas,” he said.
In the case of Fadi Abdul Mumin, a private school teacher who came to the Kingdom from Syria, it was his employers who asked him to come on a laborer’s visa. That’s because they said that the recruitment of teachersfrom abroad was very complicated. “It is a lot easier to enter the Kingdom on a laborer’s visa than any other profession,” he said.
Nureddin Al-Maghrabi, a Moroccan, said he came to Saudi on a private driver’s visa but is now working as a secretary for a Saudi businessman. “I do not care much about whatis written on my passport or iqama. The important thing for me is to be able to maintain my wife and six children back home,” he said. According to official Labor Office statistics, about 30 percent of the sevenmillion foreign workers in Saudi Arabia are laborers, followed bymaids who number around 400,000, then drivers and nurses. Statistics published last year showed that the number of labor visas increased by more than 115 percent.