Over 2.5 million illegal workers, residents arrested in Saudi crackdown

The latest update indicates that roughly 200,000 people have been arrested in the last three weeks

Saudi Arabia’s ongoing crackdown on illegal workers and residents has resulted in the arrests of more than 2.5 million people, according to an official report.

The kingdom has been detaining people for residential, labour and border security regulations since November 2017.

The latest update indicates that roughly 200,000 people have been arrested in the last three weeks.

Read: Saudi arrests over 2.3 million in continuing crackdown on illegal workers, residents

A total of 2,504,037 people were arrested, including over 1.9 million for violating residency regulations, 383,033 for flouting labour laws and 171,980 for border rule violations.

According to the report, 41,233 people were arrested for illegally attempting to cross Saudi’s borders including nationals from Yemen (51 per cent), Ethiopia (46 per cent), and other countries (3 per cent).

The total number of people arrested for their involvement in the transfer, accommodation and concealment of those who violated the law stood at 3,305.

Among the violators arrested, immediate sanctions have been imposed against 385,898 violators, while 637,507 have been deported to their respective home countries.

While 430,271 have been transferred to complete their travel reservations, 345,075 people have been referred to their respective diplomatic missions for travel documents.

The crackdown is taking place amid a wider exodus of legal foreign workers, which comes amidst increasing fees on expats as well as a strict Saudisation policy in the retail and wholesale sector.

Also read: Saudi landlords go to court after several expats ‘shut shop’ and leave

Since November 2012, the kingdom has charged SAR200 ($53) a month for each foreign worker at private sector companies where the number of expatriates exceeds Saudis.

This fee increased to SAR300-400 ($80-$107) per foreign worker in 2018 and will rise to SAR700-800 ($187-$213) by 2020.

More recently, the country has imposed job restrictions in 12 retail roles as part of which those facilities will have to ensure that at least 70 per cent of their staff are Saudi nationals.

Read more: Saudi to apply job restrictions for expats in five retail roles this week