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In an attempt to curb crime rates in Saudi Arabia, as well as removing unwanted beggars and illegal street vendors, the Saudi police force is clamping down on Saudi residents who have overstayed their welcome. The crack down focuses primarily on those who have either stayed past their visa allowance or have entered the country illegally with forged papers.
The Saudi government reports that over a three day period in Riyadh alone the police uncovered almost 400 illegal workers, the majority of whom were employed in the construction industry or were selling goods on the street without the necessary permits.
However this is a drop in the ocean in comparison to the numbers of illegal expats being uncovered in other parts of the Kingdom. In Jeddah, during a three month crackdown, over 40,000 illegal workers were identified and reported to the necessary authorities. In total, over 100,000 people have been arrested in the Eastern provinces alone.
Up until recently an ‘expat amnesty’ allowed illegal workers to leave the country on their own terms, where upon no steps would be taken against them. Ending in November this year, it seems that having given the population fair warning and an opportunity to leave if their paperwork fails to make the grade, the authorities are now going to town rooting out illegal workers.
New rules are also in place that may have a serious impact on those caught. For one, expats will now be expected to carry biometric passports and provide their fingerprints and other identifiable information to the government on immigration. It will therefore become far harder to forge papers or to sell illegally-obtained passports as the details they contain will be difficult to fake.
In addition to this the main Gulf States – namely Saudi Arabia, the UAE, Bahrain, Kuwait, Oman and Qatar – have now established a shared database of immigrants and deportees. In this way the gulf nations will be able to share information, making it harder for convicted illegals to gain access to other bordering countries.
Apparently those accused of drug-related activity will be automatically banned from entering any other gulf country. Other deportees will still flag up on passport control computers and will be assessed on an individual basis.
The claimed goal here is to reduce drug trafficking; something which is fearsomely opposed in Muslim countries like Saudi Arabia.
In essence the news is now clear; the easy times are over. Expats should make absolutely certain that their paperwork is in order so as to not fall foul of these severe new rules.
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