Saturday, December 26, 2009
For the past 10 days, since the arrival of the Saudi crown prince from abroad after his successful medical treatment, expats in Saudi Arabia have been treated to a very special gift. Family visa rules had been relaxed. All one had to do was just to pay SR25 towards visa application fees and everyone who applied was issued a family visa. Yes, you read it right, a permanent family visa irrespective of one's profession. Word spread like wildfire and soon crowds started swelling in passport offices all over the kingdom. Years and years of pent up frustration in not being able to bring one's families, just because the visa profession was not supervisory, simply changed into uncontrollable joy for the thousands of expatriates who were without their near and dear ones.
The crowds became uncontrollable and soon the passport office had to put a ceiling that not more than 1000 applications per day would be considered, due to the huge and unexpected response. This was THE day which people were expecting. As usual, there was no official announcement and everything was just by word of mouth. But who cares, as long as the work gets done.
Well, the news has now become official, but with a rider. An income ceiling, which is yet to be confirmed, has been proposed to regulate the milling crowds. My sources tell me that pending the decision on the minimum income, issue of family visas has been temporarily put on hold and is likely to be resumed within a week's time. In the meantime, take a look at this link for the "official" version in the local press:
The myriad complicated procedures must hopefully be a thing of the past. A cursory look at my previous post on family visa (click here) and the over 300+ comments from desparate readers wanting to be with their families, shows the pent up frustration of expats in not being able to be with their kith and kin.
12 years back when I landed in the kingdom, the Principal of an international school, a Phd qualified gentleman, quit his post in disgust as he was on a painter visa which was not entitled to sponsor a family, never mind that his actual profession was a Principal. Hopefully, all such nonsensical procedures should soon be a thing of the past. As usual, this blog would come out first with any developments on this, so watch out for this space. Meanwhile, on this happy note, let me welcome the arrival of the New Year with a warm wish to all my readers.
Sunday, December 20, 2009
As has been mentioned several times in the past, as long as everything works smooth in paradise, nothing will go wrong. But things DO go wrong and horror of horrors, no one knows where or whom to approach to when they do go wrong. Which was why this blog was started in the first place. One such issue is when you have a prepaid SAWA card, as most expats do, and the unthinkable happens - you lose it! Ask me, I have first hand experience!
My next destination was the STC customer service office. Their office works only between 9.30 am to 2 pm, Saturday through Wednesday - so much so for customer service! Okay, after undergoing the embarrassment of asking time off from my boss, I finally made it to STC's office on a weekday. After about 45 minutes of wait in the queue, I got my turn. I explained to the guy in the reception my problem and he kept nodding his head all the while. I thought that I was through, but it took me some time to realize that I got it all wrong. My problem was not my losing the card. My latest problem was that I knew only English and this guy knew only Arabic! Excellent communication in a telecom company!