My earlier post (click here) on changing the job profession evoked such a massive response that I decided to do a follow-up article on a related subject. This one relates to the registration of engineers working in Saudi Arabia.
For the past few years, we keep hearing that unless people holding "Engineer" as a profession in their iqamas register themselves with the Saudi Council of Engineers, their iqamas would not be renewed. In the past, this was never implemented strictly due to a variety of reasons. And those reasons are valid even today.
First is the practicality of this decision. Let's say you have an expatriate engineer with years of experience behind him. There is no question of suspecting his credentials because otherwise his employer would have sacked him immediately. So, is it really worth all the effort in making existing engineers undergo the registration process?
Next is the credibility of the Council itself. The intentions may be good (regulating engineers in the kingdom, blah blah) but how qualified and experienced are the people running this, to accredit other engineers? Professional regulatory authorities such as General Medical Council in the UK, Medical Council of India, Philippine Medical Association, etc., are all highly respected because they follow internationally accepted standards and comprise of individuals who are highly qualified and have several decades of experience behind them. Just take one look at the SCE user manual and you will know what I mean. The very first sentence reads "Saudi Council of Engineers ......without the need of a visit to SCE fro submission of the applications". Give me a break, someone please conduct a crash course in spell check and English to these people before they start accrediting engineers!
You don't need to be a genius to conclude that this is nothing but a money-making exercise. Their accreditation fees is SR 1250 for engineers, SR1700 for associate engineers, SR 2300 for professional engineers and SR 2800 for consultant engineer. And I thought that all engineers were "professionals". So, if you are an unprofessional engineer you get to pay less! Some standard!
What is this whole exercise for? And to prove to whom? Does it mean that those who do not register themselves are not engineers? Then what about the attestation on the original certificate done by the Saudi embassy back home? That attestation is done only after the Education Ministry certifies that the particular certificate is original. So, does the attestation by the Saudi embassy have no value?
It is common knowledge that most expatriates work in Saudi Arabia with iqama professions not exactly matching their actual job titles. This is probably the biggest cause of heartburn, as people are unable to bring their families into the kingdom simply because their iqama has a non-supervisory title. I had written earlier about this in detail (click here). I have been getting several mails from people who are on Engineer visa, but who are in reality not engineers. Not their fault. Their sponsors simply brought them on whichever visa was available and since engineers were entitled to bring their families, they were simply issued those visas and and when they became available. Now what happens if their iqamas do not get renewed because SCE does not accredit these non-engineers?
For those expats who are on an engineer visa, but who really are not engineers, I would suggest the following. Anyway it is your sponsor's responsibility to do the iqama renewal, so at the first shot let him do all the running around in submitting your documents. If your iqama does get renewed, well and good. If not, I would suggest you to submit ALL your qualification certificates and documents to Saudi Council of Engineers. Let SCE do the job of reviewing your documents. If they reject your documents, you will get a message from them to collect the so-called "Non-registration" letter from their office. This letter must be submitted to the passport office to process the profession change in your iqama. The best part is that the rejection letter will be addressed to your sponsor and not to you, so once again the responsibility will shift to your sponsor. The only problem then, would be whether your sponsor has enough supervisory category visas so that you can continue to be with your families. The coming days are going to see quite some activity, so watch out this space for updates.