Monday, January 21, 2008

Conversion of dates

Most of the expatriates working in Saudi Arabia get stuck with the problem of conversion from Islamic to Gregorian dates and vice versa. It is no exaggeration if I say that the wallet of an expatriate contains more paper than cash ;)
Typically, the wallet of an expatriate working in Saudi Arabia contains his original residence permit (Iqama), company ID card, and if he has a car, the original driving license, car ownership card, car registration card (known locally as Istemara), insurance card for his car, medical insurance card (one each for himself and his family members) and probably lots of other stuff like pocket calendar, ATM card, credit card..... :-O
The problem is not so much in carrying these documents, but in knowing which one expires when. All dealings with the Government are done only as per Islamic calendar, which usually has 11 days less than the Gregorian calendar. There are innumerable cases where people have lost flights, denied entry after vacation due to visa expiry, and a host of other problems all because they did not check the equivalent Gregorian dates :-S
Probably the most alarming would be to drive your vehicle after expiry of your license or your car insurance, or even worse, without a valid iqama. The expatriates working in Saudi Arabia must also be fully aware about the validity of their iqama and their exit / reentry visas. Please always renew your documents on time L-)
Please also note that when it is stamped as "One year" in your passport as the time for re-entry, it always means "One Islamic year" and not one Gregorian year. To be on the safer side, always deduct some 15 days from a Gregorian calendar to know approximately when your visa expires.
I have given in the link here a tool for converting from Islamic to Gregorian date and vice versa. I am sure this would help you overcome the problem of conversion of dates ;;)
Hope you liked this post. Your appreciation is my motivation to write, so please do let me know what you feel about this blog and the topics you want me to cover :)


Rajendra said...
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Expatguru said...

Dear friends,

While I thank you for your overwhelming response to this blog, I request you not to mail your queries to my personal email id. I am not a legal expert and do not claim to be one. Blogging is only my hobby, not my profession. The idea of this blog is just to give an unbiased picture to the first-time expatrite based on my own experiences and while I would try my best to give an objective and fair opinion, I would advise you to please make your own decisions considering various factors.

Carol said...

What a great post! You are so correct in the importance of knowing the dates of the documents and reinforcing that it is the islamic (hijjri) date in this case that matters!

The institution where I work is recalling some of the calendars distributed after learning that it was printed with incorrect hijjri dates although the gregorian dates were correct.

Your post may have mentioned it but failure to renew the iqama in time will result in ones bank accounts in the Kingdom being frozen until the iqama is renewed. Not fun!

You request for topics to cover...since you have been working/living in the Kingdom for 10 years I think it would be very interesting to hear (read) your views and perspectives on what has and has not changed over the period as well as what have been the most significant changes and why.

American Bedu

Expatguru said...

Thanks for your comments, Carol. I would certainly cover these topics. Do keep visiting this blog.

Carol said...

I will with pleasure. Your blog is providing a valuable service for expats!

almeranca said...

I want to help my son working in Dammam for more than two years now and here is the problem. They are three filipinos working near the boundary of UAE and the owner of the company did not renew their iqama,their passport expired and they wanted to return to Philippines.The owner ignored them since the problem is already discussed. They wanted to stop working to show him that they are serious. But what about the consequences of that? While their salary is on time they wanted their documents perfectly arranged. I believe the owner deliberately ignore them for the sake of his business daily income will not suffer. And because he did not renew their iqama, they will be afraid of going out of he camp.
Also the owner did not want to pay one month salary for every year of service according to them if there is any. What they will do? Are they going to Saudi Labor to file a complain which they cannot act on it because of they dont have their Iqama?

Thank You.

Expatguru said...


Please fill in your query in the form using the link in the top right corner of this blog. I charge a nominal fee for my consultancy, which would get you a detailed, personalized and confidential reply by email.