Time and again, this blog has highlighted the dangerous trend of organizations with incompetent and unskilled personnel trying to make a killing out of expatriates working in Saudi Arabia. One such is the infamous Saudi Council of Engineers which has caused nothing but heartburn not only among expats, but also among Saudi sponsors themselves.
When the Saudi Council of Engineers (SCE) was formed a few years back, its aim was purely technical. It was just one among the several organizations formed to support Saudi engineers. Fair enough, as long as it was sticking to its goals. But then the core problem is still not resolved - the organization badly lacks credibility. Moving away from its technical goals, the SCE has sadly boiled down to become just another organization meant to make money out of expats.
A few years down the line after SCE was formed, this organization realized that it simply cannot make money when even Saudi engineers are not willing to register themselves with it. Obviously, there are more respected ones like the Institution of Engineers which have an international reputation. So, the focus turned on expatriate engineers. After failing to persuade both Saudi and expat engineers to register themselves, the SCE finally managed to convince the Ministry of Labor to make it mandatory on expat engineers to do so. A new rule came into force that iqamas of expat engineers would not be renewed unless they register themselves with the SCE. More importantly, unless the SCE certifies that the certificates of these engineers are original, they would not be eligible for renewing their iqamas. More of this has been written in my earlier post (click here).
The SCE has now entered into an agreement with the Ministry of Interior and the Bureau of Investigation and Public Prosecution. The gist of the deal is that SCE will "pursue foreign engineers who violated local laws and left the kingdom". The irony is not too far to seek. How can you "pursue" a foreign engineer after he has left the kingdom? And how can you know whether he violated local laws? Isn't there already an organization called the Bureau of Investigation and Public Prosecution to do that? Is the SCE technically competent to judge expat engineers on their technical skills? And I thought law agencies in civilized countries only "pursue" criminals, not expats who have already left the country! I see a strong analogy here with the Ministry of Education trying to judge the competence of expat teachers in the kingdom.
The SCE's Secretary General has himself admitted that his organization does not have the authority to question or investigate but only a "mediatory" role (click here). Sir, did anyone ask for your mediation in the first place? Nothing is free in this world, so it is quite apparent that SCE will soon start charging for its services which no one solicited. It is plans to sign an Memorandum of Understanding with the Ministry of Justice next week to that effect.
By its own admission, there are over 4000 law suits related to stalled projects in the kingdom. Do we really need one more police force? If you can't help, at least do not hinder. Why don't you concentrate on developing your technical skills which you so badly lack in the first place before starting to judge and hound expat engineers? Why don't you stick to your original goal of training Saudi engineers rather than taking on expats? And excuse me, this is not my personal opinion - this is voiced by the apex organization of contractors in the kingdom (click here). Respect comes with credibility. And as the saying goes, one must command respect, not demand it.