Monday, January 6, 2014

Comedy of errors

Long-time expats working in Saudi Arabia have now seasoned themselves to have a good sense of humor. What else can you say after today's proposal which is under study by the Ministry of Labor, to restrict expats from staying more than 8 years and discouraging them to bring their families? But before that, a word about two important developments within the past week.
This blog has highlighted several times in the past on the futility of impractical schemes and the way policies have been diluted (click here). A classic example was the case of female teachers. No sooner had I written this post (click here) was the announcement by the Ministry of Labor that it was absolutely necessary for all female teachers to transfer their sponsorships to their institutions. I even wondered whether someone over there was actually reading this blog and wanted to disprove it! One of the readers even commented about it. Now who would expect such a flip-flop in such a short duration? But then, this is the Kingdom of Humanity where the only thing certain is uncertainty. As expected, female teachers under their spouses' sponsorships simply stopped going to school. And predictably, there was one more dilution saying that female teachers now have time up to one year to do this. As I said, the policy is to somehow get rid of the heat for the time being until pressure builds up at a later date! Hot potato, isn't it?
The other announcement was that the grace period for 'illegal' expats working in Saudi Arabia has been extended by another two months. What a great climbdown after all the noises we heard about no further extensions. Oh come on, who do you suppose would do your laundry, clean your garbage, lay roads and do all the dirty work?
Now coming back to today's "proposal" to restrict the stay of expats to 8 years and to discourage them to bring their families. We have seen this regular rhetoric about "billions of riyals" draining out of the kingdom by expats. Now since the root cause of all problems in this country is only expats, just kick them out and discourage them to bring their families. Problem solved! Please, give us a break. Expats aren't dying to come here, leave alone their families. The world is a big place and a changing one. The days of oil boom are long over. And by the way, talking of hypocrisy, in something totally unrelated, there was this grand announcement of a deal to bring in domestic helps from India. Wake up, there isn't really a queue in India or anywhere else for that matter. Those days are long gone.
Such flip-flops and rhetorics have now become so common that if in doubt, just re-read the first sentence of this post. I guess such announcements do give a comical relief at regular intervals, in an otherwise gloomy environment.


Anonymous said...

Dear Expatguru,

Hats off to you on your immediate post regarding today's news article. As you had mentioned in your post, recent developments are rather humorous than threatening. Virtually every other department wants to outwit the other in committing faux pas. A couple of days ago, one news article blamed the Saudis for the increasing remittances and they were hunting for ways to increase local spending by expats. Today they want to discourage expatriates from bringing in their families. Its quite natural that an expat who stays alone, would send more than a third of his earnings back home.

Another interesting statistic in today's news article was about the average time an expat stays here in the Kingdom of humanity. 90% of expats coming into the kingdom leave within a year or two. The remaining 10% who are accustomed stay for long. So where from they got an average of 6.9 years.

Zulfiqar said...

Dear Expatguru,

Thank you for your insight.
I live in Canada and recently got a job offer from Jeddah, Saudi Arabia. I will be moving there by mid of March.
Initially I will come alone and leave my family in Pakistan. I have a house in Canada, for which I need to send some amount to my Canadian bank account and some amount to my family in Pakistan (cash or bank transfer).
My question is what is the best way to transfer money from Saudi Arabia to my Canadian bank account? Are their any particular banks or institutions? Any fees?
Your quick feedback is highly appreciated.

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.

Anonymous said...

Why 8 years? Why not 7, or 9, or 8 years 3 months? I don't see any logic behind that, except getting expats out at some point.

Also is that 8 consecutive years? Would an expat be able to leave and come back in with a new visa/sponsor?

And not bringing a your family with you is an odd idea to encourage. The only 'benefit' I see here is fewer kids in schools. No idea why that would be encouraged.

Anonymous said...

What about expats who were brought here under false pretenses and had been promised a work visa, but are currently working under only a visitor visa?