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Saudi’s iqama dilemma

Saudi’s iqama dilemma

The Saudi representative to the ILO thinks the kingdom should consider naturalizing long-term expats, and reforming its iqama (residency) laws, he said in an interview with Arab News.

July 13, 2009 7:59 by

Foreign workers who have been living in Gulf countries for 25 years or more should be granted free iqamas (work/residency permits) or permanent resident status outside the sponsorship system, says Abdullah Sadiq Dahlan, the Kingdom’s representative to the Geneva-based International Labor Organization (ILO). In an interview with Arab News, Dahlan also suggested that the Kingdom reform the citizenship system to open the way for long-term legal residents to acquire naturalization.

“This group of expatriates has become deeply rooted in our society and their return back to their respective countries has become a real problem for them,” he said.

Dahlan described the new regulations to obtain Saudi nationality, issued about two years ago, as “pioneering and in favor of foreign manpower,” but he also said more needs to be done for long-term foreign workers.

“We should further develop investment regulations for these foreigners in order to enable them to practice business and trade according to certain rules and without certain fees.”

He said that foreigners working under the sponsorship of Saudis run more than half of the small establishments in the Kingdom.

“We have to facilitate the process that will enable the foreigners who have stayed for a long time in the Kingdom to easily obtain Saudi nationality,” he said, also suggesting that such workers should be exempt from having to renew their iqamas every two years.

Dahlan suggested that Saudi Arabia do more to retain and benefit from the labor skills that workers acquire when they spend so much time working in the Kingdom.

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  1. issam on July 16, 2009 5:34 pm

    it should had been implemented since so far and long time. I am living in the Kingdom since 29 years and still I have to find a spnsor after I retired from my job? it is a logical and huminiterian request for such people who devoted their best ages to the kingdom development and progress.

  2. Shariff on July 19, 2009 7:09 am

    I second the motion moved by Dahlan, it is highy essential that the Govt. should consider on atleast humanitarian grounds the contributions of those expats who sacrified their youth in some way or the other to the development of the Kingdom.

  3. Moamer on July 19, 2009 8:46 am

    Salam aleikum,
    The whole system of sponsorship and modern day indentured servitude is UNISLAMIC and against principles of fairness and justice given to us by Allah and the Prophet Muhammad (PBUH). It was a system brought forward by our colonial slave masters and our leaders have been too obtuse to see better.

    All muslims should be able to travel to, live and and work in any muslim country without visas/passport. The fact that you are a muslim should be sufficient to provide you a bare minimum welcome to any muslim country. It is criminal to have created a master (sponsor) class and a slave (sponsored) class of people in Muslim countries. Even in the west after 5-7 years you can apply for and in most cases get citizenship with full rights, yet people in the GCC spend lifetimes and die without their God given freedom always needing a master to serve as their sponsor.


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