My earlier post on schools in the kingdom (click here) seems to have opened up a lot of wounds among quite a few expats. I have been receiving a lot of private emails with people just pouring out their grievances. Quite a pity, because the expat community seems to be at a loss on where to go to get their issues resolved.
Just take a look at the Ministry of Interior's website and you would understand the reason for their despair. It is common knowledge that wives of expatriates working in Saudi Arabia are routinely hired by international schools in the kingdom as teachers. Now what does the MOI website say about this? There is a big list of violations and corresponding penalties mentioned. When you scroll down the list, you hit upon one of the "violations" as follows:
"Practice of work by the dependents such as wives and children"
And the "penalty" has been mentioned as:
"He shall be fined as follows:
• 1000 S.R. first instance.
• 2000 S.R. second instance.
• 3000 S.R. third instance and the issue will be referred to the Minister of Interior for his direction towards termination of the violator's Iqama and deport him."
Goodness gracious! What it means is that the husbands of all these teachers would be deported for committing the serious crime of sending their wives to teach kids in schools!
Teaching is considered a noble profession in any civilized world and teachers are held in high esteem and respect, because they impart knowledge to children. And here we have it officially in a Government website that it is a "violation" with a "penalty" threatening to deport the husband because he sent his wife to work. If only the meaningless controls and visa restrictions based on nationality were relaxed, why would our International schools hire the wives of expats as teachers? On the one hand, the quality of education in the kingdom is going down by the day due to lack of quality teachers, while on the other hand we have such threats issued in the official website of the Government.
Here is another violation mentioned in the website:
"Employing an expatriate who was recruited to work for another employer, by an expatriate resident"
The "penalty" mentioned in the website for the expatriate for this 'crime' is of course, deportation (what else?). But interestingly, if the person who employed the person was a Saudi, he would be fined only SR 5000 in the first instance, according to the website. So, what about all those Saudis employing maids as extra help during Eid season? What about those Saudis employing poor laborers as cleaners, helpers, loaders, janitors, etc in their homes and farms? They are all supposed to be violators, aren't they? And by the way, what do you expect from a guy when he earns just SR 500 per month? Obviously he will try to look for extra work to increase his income, so that his family can eat at least two whole meals a day. Is it such a terrible crime?
I wonder why we have such obsolete and archaic rules which make life so difficult. Be it bringing one's family into the kingdom, be it changing one's profession, or just an exit/re-entry visa, everything is so complicated. The pity is, it really need not be so. These are unnecessary artificial barriers made to make life miserable for one and all. And we are supposed to be in 21st century.
Rules and regulations are supposed to streamline processes and make life organized, not to complicate things. I just wish good sense prevails and a real revamp of such primitive regulations occurs.