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

The kingdom began the crackdown on violators of residential, labour and border security regulations in November 2017



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More than 2.3 million people have been arrested in Saudi Arabia as part of the kingdom’s ongoing crackdown on illegal workers and residents, the Saudi Press Agency (SPA) reported.

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

The latest update – which recorded data until Thursday, January 3, indicates that roughly 300,000 people have been arrested since November.

Read: Saudi crackdown on illegal workers, residents nets 2 million in a year

Among the 2,376,215 people arrested, over 1.8 million violated residency regulations, 364,636 flouted labour laws and 165,327 were caught for border violations.

Officials also arrested 39,088 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 3,253. That includes 962 Saudi citizens – with 933 released and 29 currently in detention as authorities implement legal proceedings against them.

Among the violators arrested, immediate sanctions have been imposed against 369,648 violators, while 609,632 have been deported to their respective home countries.

While 412,169 have been transferred to complete their travel reservations, 334,136 people have been referred to their respective diplomatic missions for travel documents.

The number of expatriates who are still detained stands at 13,401, including 11,349 men and 2,052 women.

Saudi’s crackdown is taking place amid a wider exodus of legal foreign workers, which comes amidst a strict Saudisation policy in the retail and wholesale sector.

The restriction applies to 12 retail roles including automobile and motorbike showrooms and shops selling items including ready-made clothing for men and children, home and office furniture, household goods and utensils, electrical and electronic appliances, watches, glasses, medical devices and equipment, construction materials, auto spare parts, confectionery and ‘carpets of all kinds’.

The stores 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