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Saudi’s ongoing crackdown on illegal workers, visa violators nets over 1.8 million

Saudi’s ongoing crackdown on illegal workers, visa violators nets over 1.8 million

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

Over 1.8 million people have been arrested in Saudi Arabia as the kingdom continues its crackdown on illegal workers and visa violators, officials announced.

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

The latest update (until Thursday, October 4) indicates that more than 100,000 people have been arrested since the last update on September 17, when the total number stood at over 1.7 million.

Among those arrested, over 1.41 million were caught for residency violations, 291,375 were detained for breaking labour laws, and 137,704 were found to violate border security regulations, the official Saudi Press Agency (SPA) reported.

The number of people caught trying to infiltrate across the border into the kingdom stood at 31,183 – up 1,741 since the last update – including 54 per cent from Yemeni, 43 per cent Ethiopians and 3 per cent from other nationalities.

Immediate sanctions have been imposed against 302,774 violators, while 26,625 have been transferred to their diplomatic missions to obtain travel documents. While 322,316 have been transferred to complete their travel reservations, a total of 471,243 people have been deported.

The number of expatriates who are still detained stands at 12,280, including 10,727 men and 1,553 women, the report added.

A total of 2,753 people have also been arrested for their involvement in transporting and harbouring those who violated the residency, work, border security systems, including 706 Saudi citizens. Legal procedures have been completed against 685 of the Saudi nationals, who have been released, with authorities working on implementing regulations against the rest of the 21 detainees.

Saudi’s crackdown is taking place amid a wider exodus of legal foreign workers, who are facing a higher cost of living following the implementation of a value added tax, increased fuel and electricity prices and a dependents fee.

Read: Saudi unemployment rises in Q1, 234,000 foreign workers leave jobs

The government’s plans to restrict jobs in the retail and wholesale sectors to nationals could also affect as many as 1.22 million expat jobs, according to reports.

Under the new rules, which came into effect in September, automobile and motorbike showrooms and shops selling items including ready-made clothing for men and children, home and office furniture, household goods and utensils must ensure 70 per cent of their sales staff are Saudi.

The new regulation, which will eventually apply to 12 retail roles, was first announced in January. It is intended to provide more job opportunities for Saudi nationals in the private sector.

Read more: Saudi retail, wholesale restrictions could impact 1.22 million foreign-held jobs

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