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Show me some ID, officer

Show me some ID, officer

Expatriates in Saudi Arabia are told to be wary of crooks posing as Saudi cops, and encourages foreigners to stand up for their rights.


May 13, 2009 3:33 by

It’s a common ruse in Saudi Arabia. A foreign worker is walking on a secluded street when men dressed in Saudi garb pull up in a vehicle claiming to be undercover cops. They begin making demands. They might ask for the worker’s iqama (official id), or they might even say they need to search his apartment for drugs or alcohol. The men might flash a card with a photo, but the worker is often illiterate in Arabic – the card could be official police identification or it could simply be a family ID card. The worker is on the spot and he is scared. He’s heard stories of undercover police and he doesn’t know his rights. While he worries about what is happening, the men might demand a bribe to leave the worker alone. Or they may run off with the worker’s iqama and contact information in order to call him later to demand a ransom for the return of the residency permit.

As countless foreign workers face harassment by crooks posing as undercover police officers, Jeddah police spokesman Colonel Misfar Al Juaid said that the number of such crimes could be reduced if workers were aware of how Saudi authorities operate.

Under no circumstances should foreign residents should not hand their iqamas over to someone who has not definitively identified himself as an official, Al Juaid said. In fact, it is illegal for anyone except the authorities to demand to have a foreigner hand over his or her iqama.

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