news
07-11-2017
No changes in expat dependents fee: Ministry
RIYADH – The Ministry of Finance on Monday denied social media reports about changes in expat dependents fee. "Expatriate dependent fee will remain as was announced earlier. No amendments have been introduced," the ministry said in a statement. The ministry further said that it has not announced any postponement of dependent fee nor did it issue any statements on Monday in this connection, Saudi Press Agency (SPA) reported. The Finance Ministry appealed to all media to follow the official channels in receiving statements and publishing them. They should ask the ministry so as to verify any information that was not announced officially.
news
24-10-2017
Women demand employment rights
JEDDAH — Many female employees are complaining about low salaries and transportation allowance as the third phase of feminizing women accessory shops and stores began on Saturday. Amani, who works at a women accessory retail store, said she gets only SR500 a month as transportation allowance while she has to pay SR1,400 a month to commute from home to workplace. “Transportation is the biggest obstacle for working women. We have to spend a huge portion of our salary on it,” said Amani. Nourah Mohammad said she often has to leave her job in order to stay home with her infant daughter. “Nurseries and daycares cost SR1,200 a month in addition to the transportation expenses. If I work, I have to pay for my daughter’s daycare which costs me more than I can afford. But if I stay home with my daughter I can’t make any money,” said Mohammad. Manal Al-Jehani, working at a women retail store in Madinah, said when she signed her employment contract there was no mention of transportation allowance in it. “The contract only covered the basic salary, social insurance and the job description. I was not aware of my rights as an employee,” said Al-Jehani. Israa Al-Ahmadi, employee at a private store, said her employer did not have her sign any contract. “I just began working there and I was told that the salary for a night shift is SR1,800. When I checked my social insurance account I found out that my salary was supposed to be SR3,000,” said Al-Ahmadi. Abrar Al-Jehani said she saw an advertisement for a job at a retail store that sells abayas, evening dresses and perfumes. “The new contract enlists that all women employees will have transportation arranged for them as long as they are registered through the Taqat program. There are employees at the store that have been working there for over a year and they were not able to have this service due to the fact that they are not registered on the Tagat program,” said Al-Jehani. Human Resources Expert Waad Al-Aboud said many women are ignorant about their rights under Labor Law. “The Labor Office should take a proactive role in creating awareness about employees’ rights and responsibilities. The Labor Office should simplify its laws and use infographics and short videos to create awareness through social media,” said Al-Aboud. The third phase of feminization targets shops selling ladies perfumes, shoes, bags, stockings and ready-made garments. Kiosks selling women accessories will also be fully feminized in addition to sections in malls and supermarkets which sell clothes and other women accessories. The phase also includes independent small shops which sell wedding dresses, abayas, garments, child-care and other accessories. Pharmacies in malls which sell cosmetics and make-up accessories will also be feminized.
news
24-10-2017
Work visa validity reduced to one year
Jeddah — The validity of employment visas issued by the Ministry of Labor and Social Development (MLSD) for the private sector firms has been reduced from two years to one year. But this will not be applicable to visas issued for government services as well as for domestic workers, according to an order issued by Minister of Labor and Social Development Dr. Ali Al-Ghafis. The decision was taken on the basis of Article 11 of the Labor Law under which the minister can take the procedures that are deemed necessary for improving the efficiency of the employment market. The ministry has started implementing the decision of the minister, the Saudi Press Agency reported. On Sunday, the minister issued another order allowing foreign mothers of Saudis as well as non-Saudi children of Saudi women to work in those professions which are restricted only to Saudi nationals. Employing anyone in this category will be counted as one Saudi employee while calculating the percentage of Nitaqat Saudization program. Both Saudis and expatriates welcomed the decision. Mohammad Al-Owain, a media person, described it a “right decision.” This decision offers a decent life to those families which have been living in the Kingdom for decades years, he said. Shadia Al-Ghamdi, a Saudi woman, noted that any company that refuses to employ foreign mothers of Saudi children or non-Saudi children of Saudi women should be fined. Mohammad Al-Saad hoped individuals included in this decision will be offered nationality soon. Abdul Aziz Al-Nigamshi said non-Saudi children of female citizens should also be considered as Saudi nationals. However, some people said that non-Saudi children of Saudi women should not be given citizenship. Nawal Al-Shihri said that many expatriates tend to marry Saudi women just for the sake of benefiting from them. Therefore, she is against giving citizenship to non-Saudi husbands and children of Saudi women. Karim ibn Saleh said that Saudi woman who accepts a foreigner as her husband forfeits her right to seek citizenship for her children. Maha, daughter of a Saudi mother, asked: “Why do you offer nationality to non-Saudi children of Saudi men but not to children of Saudi women?” Three Shoura Council members — Latifa Al-Shalan, Haia Al-Munai and Ata Al-Sabti — have presented a recommendation to modify the nationality system to allow non-Saudi children of Saudis to obtain citizenship.
news
09-10-2017
Saudi Aramco expands in India
NEW DELHI — Saudi Aramco launched a new Indian venture near New Delhi, a government statement said on Sunday, as the global oil exporter looks to tap rising demand and invest in the world's third-biggest consumer. India's Oil Minister Dharmendra Pradhan, who jointly inaugurated the local unit with Aramco Chief Executive Amin Nasser, said the move would help pave the way for "a strategic partnership in the hydrocarbon sector" between the two nations. Saudi Aramco through its subsidiary Aramco Asia India (AAI) established its formal business presence in India last year, the statement said. Aramco is investing in refineries in major markets to lock in customers ahead of its initial public offering next year, and the India business, on top of sales, will look for opportunities to take stakes in refining and petrochemical projects in the country. Saudi Arabia is India's top oil supplier for a fifth month in a row in August, data compiled by Reuters showed, displacing Iraq. Nasser is in New Delhi to attend the IHS-CERA conference, which starts on Sunday, which will also be attended by OPEC Secretary General Mohammed Barkindo. — Reuters
news
20-09-2017
Arab ambassadors cancel event at Labor Party Conference
LONDON – The Arab League has cancelled its annual reception and buffet dinner, which was due to be held during the Labor Party Conference in Brighton on Sept. 26. “Our Council has decided to refrain from attending the Labor Party Conference this year due to the rejection of both the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia’s and the Republic of Sudan’s applications to attend the conference,” the London office of the Arab League said in a letter sent to all MPs of the Labor Party and other parties last Wednesday. The British media described this act as a humiliation to the Labor Party leader Jeremy Corbyn, who is hostile to Saudi Arabia. “Unfortunately, the Council of Arab Ambassadors has taken the decision to cancel its annual reception and buffet dinner,” the letter read. The British newspaper The Sun said in its report that Jeremy Corbyn faced humiliation after it emerged that the League of Arab States will boycott Labor party conference later this month. The Sun revealed earlier this month that members of Corbyn’s frontbench will attend a “Venezuela Solidarity Campaign” event at Labor conference - hosted by the country’s ambassador Rocio Manerio - despite the brutal clampdown on opposition parties inflicted by the Venezuelan tyrant Nicolas Maduro. But Corbyn has faced criticism for his failure to condemn the Venezuelan regime following President Maduro’s bloody suppression of protests and his appearance at the conference rally supporting the regime is likely to reignite the row.
news
15-09-2017
Human rights meetings expose Qatar’s violations
GENEVA — A joint delegation from the Arab Federation for Human Rights (AFHR) in Britain and the Global Campaign against Qatar’s Financing of Terrorism held a number of meetings on the sidelines of the 36th Session of the United Nations Human Rights Council in Geneva. The joint delegation included the head of the AFHR in UK Abdulrahman Nofal Reyes, Ayman Al-Sabbagh and Iskandar Lomika from the board of directors of the Global Campaign against the Qatari Financing of Terrorism, along with a number of international human rights organizations. The meetings focused on the major types of violations practiced by the regime in Doha, despite the lies by the foreign minister of Qatar with regards the status of human rights in Qatar. The delegation noted that Qatar dedicates millions of dollars to human rights organizations to burnish its biased image. The delegation also reviewed the issue of detentions in Qatar, especially the case of pilgrims who returned from Saudi Arabia after performing Haj, the revocation of nationalities of some Qatari families, and the ill-treatment of foreign workers with regards to unequal pay. The meetings emphasized various evidences that Qatar is funding terrorist groups, such as the Muslim Brotherhood, Daesh (so-called IS) and other terrorist groups. The joint delegation called on the international human rights organizations and personalities to take into consideration these findings to stop the Qatari regime’s violations. The delegation highlighted the lies by Qatar’s Foreign Minister Sheikh Mohammed Bin Abdulrahman Al-Thani during his speech Thursday at the opening of the 36th Session of the Human Rights Council here. — SG
news
08-09-2017
308,000 Saudi private sector workers injured over 5 years, 92% foreigners
RIYADH: In the past five years, 307,855 workers in the private sector were injured as they were doing their jobs, 92 percent of whom were foreigners. According to government reports reviewed by Aleqtesadiah daily, 54 percent of these injuries occurred in Riyadh, Makkah and Dammam, with the construction industry alone accounting for 46 percent of the overall injuries during the past five years. In 2016, the number of injured workers decreased by 20 percent with 53,404 injuries against 67,087 injuries in 2015; 69,241 injuries in 2014; 52,467 injuries in 2013; and 65,656 injuries in 2012. Occupational hazard coverage of the Social Security System is applied to all Saudi and non-Saudi workers in the private sector, without distinction of age or gender. Employers pay the monthly insurance premium and cover all expenses for injuries that workers sustain during work in the workplace, on their way from home or to work, and occupational diseases. The Social Security System also covers enrollees whose salaries have dropped by 10 percent or more in their last years of work before retirement. In this case, special provisions apply to adjust the average monthly earnings used to calculate benefits. In this exceptional case, the Social Security System calculates the average wage during the past two years (after the salary dropped) and the wage average before this period (before the salary dropped). The final retirement pension is the average of the salaries in these two independent periods. In normal cases, the retirement pension is the average salary of the two years prior to retirement. These laws are issued in order to preserve the rights of the enrollees and protect them from any consequences caused by a salary decrease during their last two years of work.
news
07-09-2017
Saudi Labor Ministry: Number of women working in retail reaches 200,000
JEDDAH: A report released by the Ministry of Labor and Social Development in revealed that the number of Saudi female workers in the retail sector reached about 200,000, despite the difficulties facing the Saudization of the female workforce in this sector since 2011. Faten Al-Sari, acting head of the women’s employment policy and programs at the Labor Ministry, said that the ministry is trying to solve the problem of transportation facing working women. Al-Sari noted that 400 vouchers have been distributed to test the possibility of using smart technology offered by Uber and Careem car transportation companies. She also said the ministry hoped to increase the number of women benefiting from this new technology to 150,000 by 2020. Dr. Al-Sari stressed the importance of the decisions regarding the Saudization of women’s jobs in the labor market since 2011, and said that the third phase of this program would start within weeks.
news
29-08-2017
Saudi Labor Ministry sets conditions for recruitment of house workers
IYADH: The Ministry of Labor and Social Development has approved a set of conditions for those who wish to hire house workers, be they citizens or residents. One of the major conditions is that a married citizen should have at least a balance of SR35,000 ($9,333) in his bank account while salaries of residents should not be less than SR10,000 to recruit house workers or drivers. Based on regulations for granting visas for house workers’ recruitment, the Ministry of Labor has the right to verify the financial position of an applicant to approve or reject, accordingly, the ministry said. The ministry may give the applicant additional visas (two visas maximum) if the contract of the house workers is 18 months or over with the applicant. Applicants of five-year cards will be treated in accordance with conditions set for Saudi individuals. On the other hand, the maximum number of visas for a married Saudi citizen is three, including one male house worker. Other categories of jobs allowed for house worker recruitment are female house worker; male house worker; private driver; baby sitter; male cook; female cook; waiter; male nurse and female nurse. Additionally, financial ability of not less than SR5,000 should be ensured on the first visa with a bank balance of SR35,000 which could reach up to SR500,000 on the fifth visa. The ministry also allowed male and married female residents with salaries above SR10,000 to recruit two house workers under their sponsorship. However, for a bachelor, one house worker may be recruited. Job categories in this case are female house workers, private drivers or baby sitters. The number of recruitment offices registered with the house worker program (Musanid), one of the ministry’s initiatives, stands at 605, while the number of beneficiaries from the Musanid portal stands at 61,411.
news
26-08-2017
Qatar approves new law to protect domestic staff Workers will be able to limit their services to 10 hours a day, work six days a week and be entitled to annual holiday.
Qatar has introduced a new law that will provide legal protection for domestic workers, giving them more rights and control over their contracts. The "Domestic Employment Law" specifies that staff such as drivers, gardeners and nannies will now be able to limit their services to 10 hours a day, work six days a week and be entitled to an annual holiday. They will also be given paid sick leaves and guaranteed breaks for meals and worship. Previously, domestic workers were not covered by Qatar's labour laws, meaning they had limited protection in legal disputes with their employers. Once the new law takes effect, domestic staff will be able to sign a legal employment contract with their employers. They will also get end-of-service benefits equal to a minimum of three weeks wages for each year of service when their contract ends. Recent estimates put the number of domestic workers affected by the new legislation between 200,000-300,000 workers. The law was signed on Tuesday by Qatar's Emir Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani. It follows last year's changes in the law that regulated and streamlined the residencies of all categories of workers in Qatar in terms of their entry and exit of the country. Saad Sultan al-Abdulla, director of international cooperation at Qatar's National Human Rights Committee, welcomed the law, saying it was in line with international labour agreements and human rights conventions. "For sure, this law is progressive and goes along the way toward more reform that will protect the rights and interests of people working in Qatar," he added. Out of a total population of 2.7 million, an estimated 1.9 million people in Qatar are low-skilled workers who work in construction and other jobs.
news
23-08-2017
Firing of Saudis: Telecom firm earns ministry wrath
JEDDAH — A telecommunication company has earned the wrath of the Ministry of Labor and Social Development for en-masse firing of its Saudi staff. The ministry has ceased the services of the company after its decision to sack the Saudi employees created an uproar on the social media, Makkah daily reported on Tuesday. Ministry spokesman Khalid Abalkhail announced through the ministry’s Twitter account that the ministry has stopped the services of the company and has opened an investigation into the incident. Legal consultant and King Abdulaziz University faculty member Omar Al-Khouli said there has been a wave of mass termination of Saudi employees recently. “The latest amendment to the Saudi Labor Law (Article 77) facilitated the companies to fire Saudi employees. The law has been safeguarding the interests of Saudi employees for the past 40 years. However, the latest amendment has tipped the balance in favor of the employer. The amendment has caused a ruckus over the past few weeks,” said Al-Khouli. He added the ministry has turned a blind eye on the firing of Saudi employees by several companies. “The Saudi market is undergoing a correctional period. Companies do have a right to fire and employ the right people but their actions and decisions should be sensible. The ground for firing employees should not be based on their nationality or race,” said Al-Khouli. He added that under the current labor law all terminated Saudi employees have no recourse but to get their end of service benefits. “They have no prospect of retrieving their jobs. They just have to begin seeking for a different job.” Media reports say claim that the Shoura (Consultative) Council is to discuss introducing some amendments into the labor law particularly Article 77. Abdullah Al-Fouzan, chairman of the council’s committee on social affairs, family and youth, was quoted as saying that said the council and the Ministry of Labor and Social Development were working together to make the amendments which will specifically include the controversial article which enables owners of private establishments and companies to fire Saudi citizens. He said the committee held a number of meetings with officials from the ministry, experts and the concerned authorities to contain the adverse effects of some articles in the labor law from which the workers may suffer.
news
21-08-2017
Public sector contractors exempt from workers’ tax
RIYADH — The Council of Ministers has announced that contractors working on public sector projects before the decision to impose workers’ tax are exempt from paying the levy. All contractors working on public sector projects that began before the decision was issued in December 2016 will be exempt from expatriate workers’ tax. The exempted contractors include those who are currently working on projects scheduled to be completed after 2018, Al-Watan Arabic daily said. A committee will be formed to set procedures for compensating projects that have been hindered due to the decision. The exemption was decided after the Council of Saudi Chambers approached Crown Prince Muhammad Bin Salman, deputy premier and minister of defense and head of the Council of Economic and Development Affairs (CEDA). The Council of Saudi Chambers requested the Crown Prince for a review of the proposed expatriate workers’ tax. It argued that the decision could disrupt the workflow and seriously affect the budget of the project. The council further argued that because of the cash crunch, the contractors may not be able to pay wages to their workers which could impede the flow of work. It said the same was the case when new fees was levied on the issuance and renewal of operation licenses. Such inconveniences could hinder the project from achieving the goals of Vision 2030, the council petitioned. Public sector projects usually take 3 to 5 years to complete. Companies plan their budget per project and the budget is usually meticulous and accurate from calculating the expenses of the materials to calculating the salaries of the workers. Any additional expenses could be detrimental to the sustainability of the project, the council said. The Council of Saudi Chambers also requested to allow hiring of expatriate workers in fields where qualified Saudis are not available. Such fields include cleaning works, sewer work and others. The CEDA forwarded the proposal to the Cabinet and urged a reply to the proposal within 60 days. The Cabinet held a meeting with its Commission of Experts and the latter approved the proposal after studying its feasibility.
news
21-08-2017
Expats occupy over 10m jobs
DAMMAM — Foreign workers in the Kingdom compose a large portion of the workforce as according to well-informed sources Indians, Pakistanis, Egyptians, Yemenis and Bengalis occupy more than 10 million jobs. There are 3 million Indians, 2.5 million Pakistanis, 2.2 million Egyptians, 1.4 million Yemenis and 1.2 Bengalis in the Kingdom, i.e. 10.3 million in total, sources said. Labor force survey results showed that the number of non-Saudi employed persons for the first quarter (Q1) of 2017 reached 10,850,192 while the total number of employed persons reached 13,889,137. The latest figures have led to renewed widespread calls by specialists to cut the number of foreigners in Saudi Arabia by getting rid of at least half of the expatriates in the Kingdom. Furthermore, they also called for restricting recruitment of expatriate workers to occupations that Saudis do not work in as well as those that need highly skilled people and there are no Saudi specialists in such fields. Authorities have taken umpteen measures to reduce dependence on expatriate workers in several fields. From time to time, they have included new domains under the Nitaqat nationalization scheme. These include disability centers, strategic partnership institutes, health colleges, female services, children’s hospitality centers, female cosmetic centers, female sewing centers, the construction sector involved in projects at the Two Holy Mosques, gas stations and the pilgrims’ transportation sector. Several newly included categories, such as photography shops and women’s sports centers, are highly dependent on a female workforce. In addition, levying of the expat fee which became effective in July this year, has forced many foreigners to pack up and go back to their countries. The government hopes that the resultant vacancies in the job market will be filled by young Saudis of both genders.
news
19-08-2017
Saudi Labor Ministry declares war on corruption in private sector
JEDDAH: In a move which is considered as a “declaration of war” on corruption in the private sector, the Ministry of Labor and Social Development called upon companies to adopt a firm policy against bribery, bad “business facilitators” and any misconduct which may violate work ethics. The ministry also requested that the Council of Saudi Chambers (CSC) yesterday start implementing Cabinet Decision No. 111,053 of Aug. 8, which obliges companies and institutions to prepare special work ethic guides, similar to the ministry’s own guide which defines unacceptable practices in the work place, mainly bribery, accepting gifts, and all forms of corruption. The ministry’s guide considers bribery to be one the major crimes that could lead to social corruption, and harm national interests and social development. It also maintains that Islamic law prohibits such conduct. Moreover, the ministry’s guide stresses the importance of familiarizing the labor force with the consequences of the crime of bribery, which may entail severe punishment under Saudi law. The ministry also warned against the collection of donations in the work place because “Saudi regulations only allow certain licensed entities to collect donations.”
news
18-08-2017
Online registration for VAT effective mid-September
An online registration on tax purposes for businesses will be open effective mid-September 2017, according to the Federal Tax Authority, FTA, with an integrated system to be provided to serve the business sectors as per the highest international standards. This marks a major step underlining the UAE’s leading position in the application of a world-class tax system, FTA announced Tuesday. The announcement was made at a media briefing by the FTA to familiarise them on all aspects of the FTA's work and the functions it will undertake in the coming period. The FTA also briefed media on the implications of the tax procedures for boosting the momentum of the UAE's sustainable economic development, building the future economy and continuing to provide high quality services. Khalid Ali Al Bustani, Director General of FTA, said: "The UAE has reached a very advanced stage regarding the legislative aspects of the tax system that is among the best in the world. Through the Ministry of Finance, which is authorised to issue tax legislation and policies, the Tax Procedures Law was issued earlier, to govern the relationship between the FTA and the taxable persons." "The Excise Tax and VAT Laws are expected to be issued during the third quarter of this year and the regulations concerning both laws in addition to the Federal Tax procedures are expected to be issued during the fourth quarter of 2017," he added. "Tax laws and procedures in the UAE are simple and easy to comply with, and were developed based on in-depth studies of all options and reviewing various international practices. The Tax Procedure Law is a legislative framework that defines the FTA’s system of work regarding the management, collection and implementation of federal taxes, and contributes to the promotion of the principles of governance and transparency in all tax transactions." "We have achieved important milestones in implementing the highest and best international standards. We have introduced an integrated tax management system that forms an electronic platform for registration, submission of tax returns and tax payable owed by the taxable persons. Further, we have developed innovative systems and integrated them with concerned departments/entities in Emirates governments such as customs’ departments for the purpose of managing and collecting taxes on import." He explained that the application of the tax system will not affect the country’s competitiveness because it is among the lowest in the world, and it will also support efforts towards enhanced services and help achieve the highest levels of happiness for all members of the UAE community. The taxes will be self-compliant and voluntary for business sectors, with swift taxation procedures that are electronic, fully automated and in accordance with the highest international standards. "The tax laws and procedures will strengthen the UAE's economic development and enable it to be a real competitor among the world's advanced economies. This will be led by providing resources to support the expansion of key sectors that are related to the community, and providing the best services, especially in the fields of healthcare and education, and infrastructure projects," he added. Al Bustani noted that the registration processes will begin first with blue-chip companies, as well as companies that produce and import excise goods, where further details will be provided in a later stage. The registration processes will be conducted through e-Services on the FTA’s website, which will be launched in the second half of this month (August) and will provide services 24 x 7, and will offer all the relevant information on the UAE taxes. "As part of the FTA’s procedures, we are committed to provide business sectors with the best services and a suitable and advanced environment to register their businesses in an easy and convenient manner. Businesses can register via our website to ensure their readiness at the time of issuance of the VAT and Excise Tax laws and their regulations. After this, details about the tax period, submissions of tax returns and tax payable will be announced." Al Bustani explained. "Through our efforts and strategic partnerships, the FTA seeks to provide the best services that will help the business sector to prepare early for VAT and excise tax implementation. Businesses can register via our website to ensure their readiness at the time of issuance of the VAT a
news
17-08-2017
16-day Eid holiday for govt staff
RIYADH — The Ministry of Civil Service announced a 16-day holiday for Eid Al-Adha for government employees during this year. The holidays will begin at the end of the working day on Thursday, Aug. 24 (Dhul Hijjah 2) and will end on Saturday, Sept. 9 (Dhul Hijjah 15). Sunday, Sept. 10 will be the first working day after the holidays. According to Article IV of the ministry’s bylaw for holidays, the Eid Al-Adha holidays usually start from Dhul Hijjah 5 and end on Dhul Hijjah 15. On the basis of this, the Eid holidays were supposed to begin on Sunday, Aug. 27. But Article VII of the bylaw stipulates that if one working day falls in between two holidays, that day will be deemed as a holiday, the ministry said. — SPA
news
16-08-2017
Midday work stoppage compliance hits 99.7%
The Ministry of Human Resources and Emiratisation has announced 99.73 percent compliance for the midday break shown by 53,569 companies from June 15th to date. Speaking on the occasion, Maher Al-Obed, Assistant Under-Secretary for Inspections, said, "The midday break, which enters its 13th successive year, is aimed at pushing health and safety precautions to the highest limits. Temperatures are unbearable during summer times in the UAE, and workers need the break." "Records were gathered during company visits across the UAE by inspectors in 18 teams, "We carried out 53,712 inspection visits during the past two months across the UAE, and 9,324 advisory visits during the same period. "There were 13,375 inspection visits in the capital, Abu Dhabi, 11,022 in Dubai, 5,073 visits in Sharjah, 8,047 visits in Ajman, 5,687 visits in Ras al-Khaimah, 2,728 visits in Umm Al Qaiwain and 7,780 visits in Fujairah," Al-Obed added. The ministry said that daily working hours must not exceed eight hours for the morning or night shift, and overtime must be paid to those working additional hours as decreed by Federal Law No. 08 of 1980 on Labour Affairs.
news
10-08-2017
University jobs for expats only in absence of Saudis
RIYADH — Expatriates will no longer be hired in the academic faculties of government universities unless there are no qualified Saudis to take up the job. The Ministry of Education said in a statement on Wednesday that the universities shall advertise in the local newspapers and university websites about the availability of these jobs for qualified Saudis. The universities should also contact the Ministry of Civil Service to ensure that there are no qualified Saudi jobseekers in the specified specialization on its employment waiting list. The ministry noted that the regulations and instructions stipulate the necessity of ascertaining the actual need for hiring non-Saudis in specialties after carrying out these procedures, the Saudi Press Agency reported. Mubarak Al-Osaimi, spokesman of the ministry, said that the Saudi universities have active programs to deputize lecturers to the world-class universities to pursue specialized studies so as to qualify them to take up jobs of academic faculty members in the universities in future. He pointed out that hiring of non-Saudis as faculty members is on a temporary basis until the return of these graduates. This will be for a period of one year that is renewable. The universities can dispense with these expatriates if they do not want to renew their contracts.
news
07-08-2017
No increase in expat work permit fee: Ministry
JEDDAH – The Ministry of Labor and Social Development has refuted rumors that it has increased the work permit fee for expatriates. The ministry stressed that any decision by the ministry in this regard will be announced officially. The ministry is scheduled to implement the new Saudization percentages in Nitaqat program as of Sept. 3, 2017 (Dhul Hijja 12, 1438H). The Labor Ministry had started on Nov. 15, 2012 (Muharram 1, 1434H) implementing the decision to increase the fee on expatriates and started collecting SR200 per month, reaching SR2,400 per year on all private sector companies where the number of expatriate workers is more than that of Saudis, Okaz Arabic daily said. The ministry also denied any increase in the fees for issuance of visas for domestic workers. It said that the services for issuance of domestic workers’ visas can be obtained from the Individuals Recruitment (Istiqdam) administrations Kingdomwide. Inspectors uncover about 53,000 violations The ministry also announced that its inspection campaigns uncovered ‫52,89‬8 labor violations in various parts of the Kingdom.‬ These violations were detected after labor inspectors conducted a total of ‫141,82‬7 visits to private sector establishments during the period from the beginning of the Hijri year 1438 (Oct. 2, 2016) till the end of Shawwal (July 23).‬ Ministry spokesman Khaled Abalkhail said inspection campaigns will continue in all Saudi regions with the help from related government entities. He said these campaigns are meant to ensure implementation of labor laws, detect violations and impose penalties on erring workers and employers. The inspections, he said, show the ministry’s keenness to make sure all parties comply with the labor decisions aiming to regulate the labor market, as well as protect law-abiding employers and stakeholders. To report about any violation or make inquiries about any labor decisions, the spokesman called upon customers to contact the ministry via phone No. 19911 or with the help of ‘Ma3an lil Rasd’ app that can be downloaded on mobile phones.
news
05-08-2017
Employment of runaway domestic servants is a crime
SAUDI authorities continue to exert painstaking efforts to prevent the employment of runaway domestic servants and punish the violators and anyone who takes advantage of the servants for illegal purposes. Frequently, the authorities want the general public not to hire runaway domestic servants whose services are promoted over the social media websites, Al-Riyadh daily reported. Runaway domestic servants such as housemaids live in most of the densely-populated shanty neighborhoods, south of Riyadh. For example, Al-Jaradiyah neighborhood, southwest of Riyadh, has a lot of runaway expatriate workers who can be seen walking on streets searching for random jobs. Runaway housemaids, from different nationalities like Ethiopia, Senegal etc., can be found here too. They usually charge SR30 an hour and SR1,700 a month and do not have any ID documents. Al-Shemaisi neighborhood and Al-Sebala neighborhood, both located southwest of Riyadh, are also full of expatriate workers and domestic servants who have run away from work and do not have any IDs. Some housemaids charge as much as SR2,200 a month. The old Umm Al-Hammam neighborhood, northwest Riyadh, too has a lot of expatriate workers who have run away from their sponsors. In fact, some of the expatriate workers, who work legally for their sponsors, also work as brokers who can provide illegal runaway housemaids for a certain commission. Different dangers Saad Al-Baddah, CEO of Saudi Recruitment Company, urged all Saudis to think twice before hiring a runaway driver or housemaid because this action can lead to harsh legal consequences. “Saudis should know that most of the runaway expatriate workers end up being run by gangs. It is extremely dangerous to hire a runaway housemaid and bring her into your home. In fact, some of them suffer from dangerous diseases and have not had regular medical checkups." "Besides, most of them tend to steal stuff like money and jewelry from the place they work in. Next time a Saudi wants to hire one of these runaway housemaids, he or she needs to think twice because there will be severe legal consequences if the housemaid dies suddenly inside the house. The Ministry of Labor takes these violations very seriously and imposes harsh penalties on anyone who hires those housemaid,” he explained. He called upon Saudis who use the services of runaway domestics to stop engaging in this practice and play a more active role as citizens. Instead, they should report runaway housemaids to authorities. He said it is the embassy, which should pay the travel ticket expenses for the runaway housemaid, not the Saudi family. Lt. Col. Talal Al-Shalhoub, spokesman for Passport Directorate, stresses that passport officers are no longer responsible for tracking down illegal expatriate workers. All violators of the residency permit regulations will be referred to pertinent investigation units within the Directorate and the back again to specialized administrative committees for more investigations. It is these committees which decide if a person is guilty or not of violating the residency regulations. If guilty, the violator will be referred to the Deportation Unit where his fingerprints will be taken before being deported to his country. Mishal Al-Rebai’an, Ministry of Health spokesman, emphasized that government-run hospitals only admit housemaids who have a legal residency status and legal ID documents, noting that life-saving cases are an exception.
news
03-08-2017
Tourism festival offers lucrative employment opportunities for young people
MADINAH — Young people are keen to catch up on seasonal employment opportunities through participation in many activities. The most important of these was the preparation of popular dishes for visitors. The regions of Saudi Arabia hosted 820 activities organized and supervised by the Saudi Commission for Tourism and National Heritage (SCTH). Some of them have been launched since the beginning of the summer vacation, and through more than 100 tourist festivals that reflected the special features of each region and in different styles. Al-Madnia Arabic newspaper met with a number of young people who participated in the preparation of the popular meals. This was highlighted in the recently-held Souk Okaz (Okaz market), and they stressed their determination to participate in the upcoming festivals. Osama Mahfouz, who prepares of "Bir Al-Majrafa" during the Okaz market, said that the summer festivals are a great opportunity to attract young men and women to cook popular dishes. These foods recorded a jump in the demand among young people looking for work during the period of the Okaz market. Cooking popular dishes is a great skill that many possess, especially among the young cadres. Osama was happy with this type of work and called on young people to acquire such expertise in order to gain necessary skills that may benefit them in establishing their own projects and managing them successfully if they cannot find jobs in the future. "I thank the SCTH for providing the opportunity for young people to cook popular dishes and to introduce them from all regions of the Kingdom. I prepare baked bread and people have been buying it daily since the launch of this festival. I work with a group of friends to prepare the dough and bake the bread. We're all excited and happy about the experience we are gaining," he said. He added that he began to encourage his peers to engage with them at the Okaz market to find an opportunity to work and cook popular dishes. Abdullah Al-Quthmi, a chef participating in the market, said: "I find working in popular foods in the Okaz market as one of the most important things I did during the summer, and I am keen to take advantage of the revenues I generated." The visitors come from all over the Kingdom as well as from Gulf countries and Al-Quthmi and his friends specialize in different recipes that received a lot of attention from visitors, thus creating a unique demand. Al-Quthmi added: "We offer many popular dishes, such as "Mutbak, Masoub, Mantu, Yagmush," and “other foods that are famous from the Taif region. We earn good income, and the Okaz market did provide many jobs for the young people."
news
01-08-2017
11th phase of wage protection program covers over 481,000
RIYADH — As many as 481,097 employees working for 7,021 establishments each with a workforce ranging between 60-79 will be covered in the 11th phase of the wage protection program set for launch Tuesday. The Ministry of Labor and Social Development said phases 11 to 16 of the program will cover establishments with less than 80 and up to 11 workers. The date for the application of the program on establishments with less than 11 workers will be fixed later. The ministry said establishments not paying workers' salaries on time will be fined SR3,000 and said it would stop all its services from the establishments delaying salaries for two or more moths. "Aug.1 will be the date for the launch of the wage protection program's 11th stage," the ministry said in a statement published on its Twitter account. The program is also aimed at establishing a database containing uptodate information about the payment of salaries to the workers in the private sector. "The program will reflect the commitment of the companies and establishments to pay salaries on time and at the amount agreed upon with the workers," the ministry said. The ministry introduced the program for the first time in 2012 to protect private sector employees from delay in getting their monthly payments. It was first applied on companies and establishments employing 3,000 people or more and went down to the 10th stage which covered establishments with about 80 employees or more. Meanwhile, economic experts believe that 100 percent nationalization of jobs in seven sectors will provide more than 76,000 job opportunities to the nationals of both genders. The ministry has already Saudized jobs in the communication sector and is planning to localize jobs in the sectors of tourism, health, car rental offices, mobile food vehicles, groceries, supermarkets and malls. Abdullah Al-Maghlouth, member of the Saudi Society of Economists, described the move as positive and said it would provide ample job opportunities for the Saudis. He called for removing all the hurdles that might impede the process of Saudization including tasattur (expats doing jobs in the names of Saudis against certain fees). "A large number of expatriates are working in the contracting sector as well as in shops and car rental offices," he said. Maghlouth called for making the private sector attractive to the Saudis and said tasattur is dissipating the wealth of the country. Ahmed Al-Fakeeh, a realtor, called for nationalizing the real estate sector and said it has more non-Saudis. "We need strict laws to make the Saudization process a success as we have already made tangible achievements in the localization of jobs in the private sector," he said. A number of owners of small and medium enterprises (SMEs) have called for rigorous training of national manpower to be able to keep pace with the needs and requirements of the labor market.
news
27-07-2017
Expat levy has little impact on purchasing power, experts say
JEDDAH – The expat levy and some families’ decision to leave the Kingdom do not have a direct impact on the purchasing power in the economy, according to local experts. Certain companies in the private sector are carrying the cost of the new levy on their employees, either in full or in part. “Unlike on the outset, not many expats are planning to leave the Kingdom because of the new levy and they will weigh the cost of moving,” says Hattan Saaty, managing partner at Strategic Gears, a local consultancy firm that published a report this month revealing a research study on the revised expat levy and its impact on the economy. “It is unlikely that expats with families will leave immediately after the implementation of the levy, and based on the survey most of them are long stayers who have already created deep roots within Saudi Arabia, so the leaving decision isn’t an easy one,” says Saaty, adding that a number of expat high performers might expect salary increases in the coming years or other external factors positively affecting their income. According to the research surveying 1,500 male expats with families working in various occupations and different income levels, expats will consider the levy as too high when it reaches 15 percent of their salaries. With more than 11 million expats in the country, and more than 600,000 unemployed Saudis with an increasing unemployment growth rate, it’s expected that the government will start taking more drastic measures, according to the researchers. “We believe the expat levy would make expat hiring less attractive as it will reduce the average monthly wage gap between expats and Saudi employees from SR4,057 to SR3,257,” says Saaty. “In the long-term, the expat levy is positive for the labor market in several aspects, namely changing the business model in the private sector that relies on cheap labor and increasing Saudization that, in return, will increase the purchasing power of Saudi families.” The nationalization rate, or Saudization, in the private sector has been viewed as stagnant at around 17 percent over the past 5 years, despite nationalization programs such as Nitaqat as well as the previously introduced expat levy in 2015. On the consumption power, economists and businessmen view that expats will likely reduce their spending to cover the levy payment but will not affect the overall market. Responses by expat families in the study indicate an average expenditure of SR5,665 per month, compared to a Saudi family’s average monthly spending of SR15,367. Mohamed Alawi, CEO of Red Sea Mall and chairman of shopping centers committee at the Jeddah Chamber of Commerce and Industry, told Saudi Gazette: “Looking at the big picture, consumption by expats is much less than Saudis. The economy largely depends on the purchasing power of Saudis, pilgrims, and visitors.” Economists consider the levy to encourage more Saudis to be hired in shopping centers and shops. “The government has introduced this levy just like any other countries with foreign residents who pay taxes,” he added. The monthly revised levy starting from July 2017 remains lower than other countries that have a large number of expat labor. In the UK, the monthly expat levy stands at SR808, while in Singapore it stands at SR1,360. Asked about the purchasing power after the return of incentives of government employees, Alawi says Saudis are now more aware in rationalized spending and managing their budget than before the budget cuts last year. The Ministry of Labor and the Job Creation and Employment Commission plan to create 1.2 million job opportunities, aiming to create 450,000 jobs for Saudis in the private sector by 2020. The National Transformation Plan aims to increase the percentage of females in the workforce from 23 percent to 28 percent and reduce overall unemployment from 11.6 percent to 9 percent.
news
24-07-2017
Expats in last-minute rush as amnesty ends today
Jeddah — Thousands of undocumented expatriate workers intensified their efforts to benefit from an amnesty which is coming to an end on Monday. Expatriate affairs departments at deportation centers across the Kingdom from Arar in north to Asir in south witnessed huge crowds on Sunday. The Shumaisy deportation center on Harmain express road in Makkah, the largest facility in the Kingdom, also witnessed a huge rush of expatriates from various countries. A total of 7,421 Indonesians left Saudi Arabia by registering at the Indonesian consulate in Jeddah, said a source. This number is three times less than the number registered during the amnesty in 2013. Umar Badarsyah, vice consul for information, social and cultural affairs at the Indonesian consulate, told Saudi Gazette that many undocumented workers were expecting another extension of amnesty considering the advent of Haj. Many of these expats decided to stay during Haj to make some fast bucks before returning home. Badarsyah said the Indonesian consulate general relentlessly tried to convince them to use this opportunity to return home yet the number of those who registered did not increase. Some Indonesians did not benefit from the amnesty because they were reported to the police, others had problem in their data entry in the system. Indonesian diplomatic missions issued over 13,000 travel documents in Jeddah and Riyadh to their nationals, according to officials at Indonesian embassy in Riyadh. Yemen consulate in Jeddah is processing the exit papers of 300 Yemenis daily through border check post via Shahrouh in Najran province. Yet several Yemenis are on waiting list to complete exit procedures at Shumaisi deportation center, according to Yemeni diplomatic sources. Nearly 60,000 Ethiopian nationals from Jeddah region alone applied for exit visas. “We are confused due to the lack of information,” admitted Ethiopian Consul General Wubishet Dimise. Sudan also intensified efforts to facilitate paperwork of its works. More than 46,000 Sudanese expatriates — 32,000 from Riyadh and 14,000 from Jeddah — are returning home, many of them came to the Kingdom as shepherds and agriculture farm workers. Over 75,000 Pakistanis have applied for travel documents in Riyadh and Jeddah, according to Pakistani diplomatic sources. Over 50,000 Bangladeshis intend to return home, according to Bangladesh diplomatic sources. Some 45,000 were able to complete their exit procedures across the Kingdom. A total of 20,000 have already left the Kingdom. Nearly 31,000 Indians came forward to return home under the amnesty. Many of them have left the Kingdom, but officials have no idea how many still remain as the information has to be shared by Saudi officials.
news
21-07-2017
KSA fully backs Kuwaiti measures; MOFA source
JEDDAH — The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia expressed its full support for the measures taken by Kuwait towards the Iranian diplomatic mission in the State of Kuwait. The measures included the shutting of the Iranian cultural mission in Kuwait. The measures against the Iranian Embassy involve the closure of the military and cultural offices. Kuwait also reduced the number of Iranian diplomats to 9, while giving Iranian diplomats 45 days to leave the country. These measures were taken after the issuance of a court verdict on what is known as the “Al-Abdali cell” and the involvement of some Iranian bodies in assisting and supporting the cell members, Saudi Press Agency (SPA) quoted an official source in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs as saying Thursday. On Wednesday, the Kuwaiti Interior Ministry published photos of 16 convicted in the case of the “Al-Abdali cell” issuing verdicts in absence against them. In a press release, the ministry asked citizens and residents to report them, warning against sheltering any of them. On August 13, 2015, the Kuwaiti Interior Ministry arrested a number of defendants with a large quantity of weapons found at a farm in Al-Abdali area near the Iraqi border inside houses belonging to suspects. — SPA
news
20-07-2017
Bahraini lawmakers reject calls for age cap on expat workers
DUBAI: Plans to ban expats over 50-years-old from working in Bahrain have been rejected by the island nation’s Council of Representatives. The proposed age cap was suggested in an attempt to boost employment chances for Bahrainis, but it was opposed by the Labor Market Regulatory Authority and Bahrain Chamber of Commerce and Industry. Politicians rejected the plans because they said Bahrain continued to gain from the experience and knowledge foreign workers brought with them. MP Ali Al-Aradi, the First Deputy Speaker, told UAE daily Gulf News. “There are various sectors that do need people with experience and expertise.” And MP Isa Al-Kooheji said: “In some sectors, the older the person gets, the more experienced he or she becomes and the better he or she passes his or her skills to others, and I can cite medicine and law, for instance.” Al-Kooheji said he did not oppose Bahrainis taking up more new jobs, but he added: “I have never said that Bahrainis were not competent enough, but I do say that it is highly significant that we obtain experience from foreigners for the sake of our people.” More than half Bahrain’s population is foreign nationals – although many of those are low to unskilled people working in construction and service sector positions. Meanwhile Bahrainis tend to hold advanced positions in skill-based positions.
news
19-07-2017
62.77% request for expat work visas declined
JEDDAH — The Ministry of Labor and Social Development (MLSD) said in its annual report that it rejected as many as 533,016 applications for work visas in 2016, representing about 62.77 percent of the total foreign recruitment requests which were 849,228. The ministry said it approved 316,212 work visa applications representing about 37.24 percent of the total number of applications it received. It said work visas were electronically issued through its special computer service for work visa issuance. The ministry said it has signed five-year agreements and MoUs to employ workers from Turkey, Mexico, Egypt, India, Morocco and Cambodia. The ministry has also signed temporary MoUs with China, Japan and Malaysia to this effect. The new Nitaqat system will be implemented from Sept. 3, the ministry’s spokesman Khaled Aba Al-Khail said. He said the Nitaqat program was aimed at improving the market performance, raising the quality of employment and creating more job opportunities for Saudi men and women. “We are trying to create a safe and conducive work environment and to put an end to unproductive nationalization of jobs,” he said. Aba Al-Khail said the rate of Saudization of jobs is decided according to economic activities of establishments. “We have also divided SMEs into categories A and B,” he said.
news
19-07-2017
No fee for dependents of expats on visit visas
RIYADH — Expat workers do not have to pay the fee for dependents who are in the Kingdom on a visit visa, the Department of Passports (Jawazat) has clarified in a statement. “No extra fees beyond the SR100 for the monthly extension of the visit visa will be charged,” the Jawazat said, setting to rest rumors that expats will have to pay the fee for dependents even on visit visas at the time of visa extension. The reality, however, is different. A number of parents were asked to pay more than SR100 for a visit visa extension. Assistant director general of the Jawazat for IT affairs Khaled Al-Saikhan told Makkah Arabic daily on Tuesday that these people should ask their banks to refund the extra money they paid for the visit visa extension. Saikhan said the fees for dependents are paid annually in advance at the time of the issuance or renewal of iqamas (residence permits), issuance of exit-reentry visas or when the final exit visa is required. “There are no dependents’ fees on the issuance or extension of a family visit visa. Anyone who is asked to do so should resort to the concerned bank,” he said.
news
18-07-2017
Double whammy for Indian expats going home for good
Jeddah — Indian expatriates returning home on final exit visas amid job uncertainty and rising cost of living in the Kingdom are now experiencing an unexpected shock in the form of the Goods and Services Tax (GST), the newly introduced tax system in India. Thanks to GST, cargo charges have been doubled. Shipments sent to India prior to the introduction of the new tax system are also held up at customs warehouses at airports in India because officials are demanding revised tariff under GST. An approximately 500 tons of goods sent from Saudi Arabia are held up at various airports in India since July 1 when the GST was introduced, sources said. Cargo facilities at airports in Jeddah, Riyadh and Dammam are also having a backlog load, said the sources. The freight delivery duration has also increased from two weeks to a month and more. “As a result of the sudden imposition of GST, 90 tons of cargo goods sent by our agency a month ahead of July 1 are also held up at Indian airports,” Abdul Rasheed, manager of a leading door-to-door delivery cargo service in Jeddah, told Saudi Gazette. As a result we are collecting GST charges from customers here, he said. He expressed concern that if they delayed in paying GST, airport warehouses will impose demurrage charges on them. Indian expatriates have been using door-to-door cargo services across the Kingdom for sending goods, mostly used items, to home country as gift items. Since 1993 India has allowed the shipment of gift items and goods (not electronics, gold jewelry or any other prohibited items) for personal use assessed worth up to Rs20,000 from abroad with the exemption of customs duty and any tax. This was helpful for many returning Indians. But this exemption was nullified in an overnight decision just a day prior to GST and brought under tax ambit. As per new rules effective from July1, 41% tax has been imposed on goods sent as personal gift items. The tax comprises 10% customs duty, 3% education cess and 28% GST (the highest GST slab). “I do not want to pay 41% GST for used towels, bed linen and kitchen utensils,” said a housewife, who is planning to return home for good. Mohammed Yousuf, president of Telugu Association of Jeddah (TAJ), questioned the logic behind reducing the exemption limit for goods under transfer of residency in the new GST slab. “When gift items given by employers to their employees worth up to Rs50,000 per year are exempted under GST then why exemption limit on shipped gift items was reduced from Rs20,000 to merely Rs2,000,” questioned Yousuf. Abdulaziz, manager of a leading door-to-door cargo service in Jeddah, said that business has been affected since the introduction of GST.
news
17-07-2017
39,000 violators in Madinah complete exit procedures
MADINAH — The Passport Department in Madinah has completed the departure procedures for 38,924 residency and labor law violators as of Monday, Al-Madina newspaper reported quoting the Maj. Gen. Khaled Al-Huwaish, director of passports in Madinah. Al-Huwaish said the procedures were finalized at the passport offices in the city, Prince Muhammad Bin Abdulaziz International Airport, and the Yanbu airport and seaport. Al-Huwaish revealed that while verifying the documents of departing expatriates, the passport officers identified 41expatriates of various nationalities wanted by the police for criminal and security-related issues. "The campaign is proceeding very smoothly and the procedures are simple and fast," he said, and urged all violators to avail of the amnesty to leave the Kingdom voluntarily so that they will be able to return to the Kingdom legally any time in the future. The passport director explained that those who have overstayed their Haj, Umrah or visit visa could leave directly through the Kingdom's various air, sea and land exits. "Expatriates with expired residence permits, those have not been issued them, and those who have been reported by their sponsors for running away should process their departure papers through the passport departments," he said. An initial 90-day general amnesty as part of the Interior Ministry's A Nation Without Illegal Expatriates campaign began at the end of March and was extended by a month. It will end on June 25. The violators who opt to leave the Kingdom voluntarily during the amnesty period will not be fingerprinted and may return to the Kingdom for work legally anytime in the future. They will not be subject to fines, imprisonment or any other kind of punishment. The authorities have warned of intensified security campaigns to arrest any illegal expatriate who remain in the Kingdom after the June 25 deadline. Those arrested will face severe punishments including hefty fines and imprisonment.
news
14-07-2017
Next phase of Saudi wage protection program takes effect in August
JEDDAH: Starting Aug. 1, the Ministry of Labor and Social Development will begin enforcing the mandatory wage protection system on private establishments with more than 60 employees. According to the ministry’s spokesman, Khaled Aba Al-Khail, the 11th phase of the program will include more than 7,000 establishments, and a total of more than 481,000 employees. In a statement via the ministry’s Twitter account, Aba Al-Khail confirmed the ministry will apply the wage protection system on all private sector employers to ensure employee salaries are paid in a timely manner. Establishments that do not pay salaries in time will be fined up to SR3,000 ($800) per worker, the statement read. Penalties against violators also include suspending all services to establishments that are late in submitting information about the wages of employees for three months, and permitting employees of these establishments to transfer to other employers without requiring approval.
news
14-07-2017
Indian consulate working to reach families of 11 dead in Najran fire
JEDDAH — The team of senior diplomats at Indian Consulate here have been working round the clock to assist families of victims of the Najran fire tragedy. “We have identified that all 11 dead were Indians and are trying to communicate with their families.” Indian Consul General Md. Noor Rahman Sheikh told Saudi Gazette. He said that among dead, 5 were from Uttar Pradesh, 3 from Kerala and one each from Bihar, Punjab and Tamil Nadu. He added that among the injured five from India – 4 are from Uttar Pradesh and one from Jarkhand. The consul general said that particulars of victims would be made public shortly. Sheikh said that consulate was able to establish contact with some of families so far and officers are working to reach others at the earliest based on their passport details. He also said that a consulate help team is stationed in Najran and he was personally in touch with all relevant authorities including the governorate in Najran. He said that he was also constantly updating senior officials back home in New Delhi.
news
12-07-2017
Domestic workers can transfer sponsorship if salary is delayed for 3 months
JEDDAH: The Ministry of Labor and Social Development (MoL) confirmed that domestic workers can transfer to other employers if it is proved that the current employer was late in paying salaries for three consecutive or intermittent months. Labor Minister Ali bin Nasser Al-Ghafis issued a ministerial decision endorsing the transfer of services of a domestic worker from the current employer to a new one in 13 cases. MoL spokesman Khalid Abalkhail said: “One of the cases where the domestic worker has the right to transfer his/her services includes the delay by the employer to pay salaries for three consecutive or intermittent months without the employee being the reason for this delay; when the employer is not present to receive the worker at the port of entry into the country; or not taking the worker from the shelter house within a period of 15 days from the date of arrival. “The other cases include the failure of the employer to obtain a residency permit or failure to renew the expired one within 30 days of the expiry date.” The spokesman added that workers can transfer from one employer to another in cases where the employer leased the services of the worker to others without the knowledge of the worker, or assigning him/her to work for non-relatives of the second degree, and in cases that prove the worker was commissioned to perform hazardous tasks that threaten his/her health and safety. The decision to transfer the services of domestic workers also includes cases where the worker was abused, or where a formal complaint by the worker exists against his/her employer. Other cases for services transfer include situations where employers file invalid complaints against absent workers; when the employer fails to attend two sessions addressing a complaint filed by the worker; and in cases where the employer is absent either for travel or imprisonment, death or any other reason that resulted in failure to pay wages for three consecutive months. The new employer will pay the transfer fees and costs of sheltering the worker during his/her stay in the shelter house, which amounts to SR150 ($40) per day, in accordance with the mechanism put in place by the ministry.
news
10-07-2017
Expat fees and tough personal decision
Mahmoud Ahmad THIS is the story of Bakhsh, a Pakistani farmer who is employed in a Madinah farm, as told in the front page of a local daily last week. Bakhsh, his brothers and sons, who have lived in the Kingdom for 35 years or more, are now faced with the prospects of making their toughest decision in their life — leaving the Kingdom. The reason being the recent levy of dependent fees, which they cannot afford to pay, as they work as farmers with meager salaries. Expatriates now have to pay SR100 from this July per dependent per month. In addition, there is another fee to be instituted in January 2018, when companies in which expats outnumber Saudis will have to pay SR400 every month for each expat worker, pay SR300 for each expat worker when the numbers of expats employed by them equal the number of nationals in the firm. The fees will then exponentially increase annually with the monthly fees on expats for each of their dependents rising to SR200. The fees on expats outnumbering the Saudis will be increased to SR600 per month from January 2019 while firms with equal number of expats and nationals will need to pay SR500. The fees on dependents will be hiked to SR300 per dependent per month the next year. At the start of 2020, the fees for expatriates outnumbering Saudis will be increased to SR800 monthly and to SR700 for expatriates who are in equal number to Saudi workers in a company. The monthly fees on the dependents will be raised to SR400 per head from mid 2020. The yearly slab of levies have got many expatriates thinking of leaving — some voluntarily while some forced. Bakhsh was born in the Kingdom and has lived all his life in Saudi Arabia. He has 12 sons and after calculating the first year expat fee, he realized he would have to pay SR14,000. With the amount doubling the next year and, increasing exponentially annually, he feels he would not be able to afford paying the amount. He has finally decided to go back to a country that he had never visited in his life. There are bound to be many such Bakhshs in the expatriate community, who are faced with the dilemma to pay and stay with their families or take a decision to call it quits with their family. It is those who have been in the Kingdom for decades are the ones facing a wrenching time. For it may not be difficult to take a call for those who have been working and living in Saudi Arabia for less than ten years, as the attachment to the Kingdom is not as strong as for those who were born here and lived for more than 40 years. Like Bakhsh, they too will have to make a call — either face the tough decision of paying the fees and work in multiple jobs, which is a burden for low-income expats, or go back to a country, by virtue of their passports, that they have visited occasionally or never seen in their lives and be strangers in their own countries. The decision becomes tougher with the fear that they would not be able to rebuild a life where parameters are different and unknown. That’s why many have suddenly woken up to the fact that there’s a need to understand the local laws and requirements of their native lands, such that it would enable them to fit in, if the need arises for them to leave the Kingdom. Some expats, however, are implementing or have implemented their plan-B that includes sending their wives and children back home, risking separation and the social issues that come with it. This means most of the money spent in the Kingdom will now take flight outside in the form of remittances. Expats living with their families in an apartment will live together as forced bachelors leaving many vacant apartments, which will lead to prices going down, and a possible fall of revenue for the Saudi owner. The knock-on effect will also be on shops, malls, hotels, which could witness a fall in revenues too. Some Saudis are seeing that the levying of expat fees as a perfect opportunity to put an end to unemployment problems, especially with expats leaving their jobs and the Kingdom. They expect Saudis to fill the positions that the expats vacate. Those who are in favor of the fees are betting on Saudis filling these jobs as the market would open up with opportunities and become lucrative for nationals once many of the low-paid expats leave. So instead of, lets say for example, five laundries or barber shops in one street, it would be limited to one with a Saudi operating it and getting the bigger share of the market. They a
news
08-07-2017
Dependent fee to be paid in advance and is not refundable
Saudi Gazette THERE is no exemption for the newborns in the new dependent fee for expatriates working in the private sector, according to the General Directorate of Passports (Jawazat). The fee will be levied after registration of birth with retrospective effect from the date of birth, the Jawazat said in a statement issued on Wednesday. The fees will be levied annually in advance against any dependent or companion of an expatriate worker in the private sector at the time of issuance or renewal of ‘Resident’ (muqeem) identity or issuance of an exit and re-entry visa or a final exit visa. The fee will be non-refundable. The payment of the fee is applicable to all nationalities but there will be an exemption for those who already enjoy exemption from payment of iqama fee. The monthly fee per head is SR100 effective from July 2017 and this will be increased to SR200, SR300, and SR400 from the first day of July 2018, 2019 and 2020 respectively. Jawazat started levying the dependent fee under a mechanism introduced in collaboration with the Ministry of Finance and the National Information Center in pursuant with an earlier Cabinet decision approving the Fiscal Balancing Program of 2020. Under it fees will be levied on all dependents (tabie) and companions (murafiq) of expatriates working in the private sector gradually way and on annual basis. The fee shall be paid in the category of ‘Associate Fees for a Specific Associate or All Associates’ in the Alien Control segment in the government services section of SADAD bills available at online systems of all local banks in the Kingdom. “All necessary adjustments have been made on automated iqama system (residency permit) to cope with the new amendments,” the statement said. Regarding the issuance of a final exit visa for an expatriate worker or his dependent and/or a companion, fee will be paid for the period from July 1, 2017 until the date of the issuance of the final exit visa (departure date). In case the validity of the final exit visa exceeds the validity period of iqama, the fee for the overlapping period between validity of the visa and iqama shall be paid, the Jawazat statement said. According to the Cabinet decision, the associates include dependents — wife, sons under 18, and daughters; and companions who are sons above 18 years of age, second, third, or fourth wife or wives, father, mother, father-in-law, mother-in-law, domestic workers and any expatriate whose name is registered in the system as sponsored by an expatriate worker. 

news
07-07-2017
New expat fee includes newborns
JEDDAH: The Passport Department on Wednesday said it has completed modifications to its electronic portal to cope with the new requirement that private-sector, non-Saudi residents pay a fee for each of their dependents and escorts (those under the resident’s sponsorship, but not a wife or son younger than 18). It said the fee include newborns, and is required to be paid when requesting visa and residency services online. The monthly fee is SR100 ($26.67) in 2017, SR200 in 2018, SR300 in 2019 and SR400 in 2020. The fee came into effect on July 1, and is aimed at increasing state revenues to offset the impact of low oil prices. The Passport Department said the fee should be paid before renewal of a residency permit or issuance of an exit/re-entry visa for expat workers of all nationalities.
news
06-07-2017
Saudi Arabia’s fees on expats’ dependents draw mixed reactions
RIYADH: Expatriates expressed concern and sadness over the decision to apply new fees on dependents of foreign workers in the Saudi Arabia. The new policy came into effect on July 1. The Saudi Cabinet passed a series of decisions last December, aimed to increase state revenues to offset the impact of the fall of oil prices. One of these decisions was to apply new fees on the dependents of foreign workers. According to the decision, the fee will start at SR100 for each dependent per month and will increase to SR200 from July 2018, then SR300 in 2019 and SR400 in 2020. The Passport Department said Sunday the fees should be paid in advance before the renewal of the residency permit or the issuance of an exit/re-entry visa for expat workers of all nationalities. Mohammed Ali, a Sudanese sales employee living in Riyadh with his five-member family, said he was seriously thinking about sending his family back home, as these fees will eat up his salary and savings. He expressed hope that the Saudi authorities would reconsider these fees in a country “we have loved and worked for.” Hasan Ismail, another Sudanese national who works as an accountant in a private company, expressed similar concern over his future in the Kingdom. He said the fees would put more pressure on his finances. “As far as I know, companies are not prepared to bear the fees on behalf of their foreign employees and they may possibly tell employees either to pay their dependents’ fees or leave,” he told Arab News. With a heavy heart, Fatima Mohammed, a Sudanese housewife and a retired teacher, said she was prepared to pack up and return to her country after 25 happy years in the Kingdom. She said she would be leaving her husband in the Kingdom alone to provide a decent life for the family in Sudan. Zakir Aazmi, an Indian worker who has lived in the Kingdom with his family for more than two decades, echoed these sentiments. He said that the dependent fee is likely to be a huge financial burden for expatriates living with their families in Saudi Arabia. Moreover, he believes it will not generate the expected revenue as many expatriates will now be forced to return home or send back their dependents — as such, he predicts the policy will have an adverse effect on the local economy, particularly the housing sector. Furthermore, there will be huge cut in spending, as remittances will increase with families back home, he added. Ahsan Ali, a Pakistani expatriate, also expressed concern saying: “We have no option but to send family back home, even there are many like me thinking of returning home as the stay here has become a costly affair. Dr. Majed Abdullah Al-Hedayan, a legal consultant and foreign direct investment (FDI) expert, told Arab News: “The application of fees on expatriate workers and their dependents, whether family members or domestic labor, is normal and applied in many countries of the world and the foreign worker recognizes the fact that the imposition of fees is beneficial in the provision of government services that are provided free of charge to citizens.” “If we evaluate the fees compared to the value of services and facilities provided here, they will accept it even though it sounds difficult in the beginning,” he added. Syed Hamid, a senior executive from Sri Lanka working in Riyadh said: “The unpreparedness to deal with the newly introduced levy on the dependents has caused worry which was evident at the airports also for those leaving on vacation.” However, most expatriates appear to share the view that the benefits of living in the Kingdom outweigh the drawbacks of the new fee. “We understand it will be a burden for expatriates with large number of dependents,” he added.
news
05-07-2017
Companies weigh options to deal with new expat fee
RIYADH — Some private companies have decided to pay the new expat dependents fee imposed by the government in order to prevent their highly qualified and experienced foreign workers from leaving the Kingdom. There are are 2.4 million dependents of expat workers, according to the General Authority for Statistics. There are about 10 million expat workers who work mainly in the private sector. Economist Fadl Bouainain said private companies will naturally cut some allowances in order to compensate for the payment of the new fee. The government started imposing the new fee from July 1, 2017 as part of its efforts to increase public revenue. The fee has sent shock waves among foreign workers and many of them have decided to send their families home. Bouainain told Al-Watan Arabic daily that the new fee will force many companies to revise travel, education and vacation allowances given to foreign workers. Companies will have two options: Either to increase prices of products or keep them unchanged and cut allowances given to expats, he added. The General Authority for Statistics said that about 10 million foreign workers in the Kingdom were in the age group of 20 to 64 and the number of their dependents totaled more than two million. There were 10,000 foreign workers aged below 20. The Passport Department started imposing the new levy on July 1 at the rate of SR100 for every dependent to reach SR1,200 annually. The amount will be doubled in July 2018 to reach SR200 per month and SR2,400 in a year. In July 2020 it will be raised to reach SR400 per month per dependent. Companies where expat and Saudi workers are in equal numbers will have to pay a levy of SR300 per expat worker per month in January 2018. This levy will increase to SR500 per month per worker in 2019 and SR700 per month per worker in 2020. Companies where expat workers outnumber Saudis will have to pay a levy of SR400 per month per worker in January 2018. This will increase to SR600 per month per worker in 2019 and SR800 per month per worker in 2020.
news
04-07-2017
Expats must pay dependents’ fees before Iqama renewal or re-entry visa: Passports Department
RIYADH: The General Directorate of Passports of the Ministry of Interior (MoI) said that the issuance of exit/re-entry visas for expatriates and the renewal of residence permits will not be made unless fees levied on dependents of foreign workers are paid in advance. Government agencies including banks have either updated or are updating their technical platforms for accepting these fees. Responding to many inquires received on its Twitter account, the Passports Department said that fees levied on the head of the family “should be paid before issuance of exit/re-entry visa or renewal of residence permits.” The new fee for dependents of foreign workers in Saudi Arabia went into force July 1, which was announced by the Ministry of Finance last year in a step to balance in the budget. In December 2016, the Saudi Council of Ministers passed a series of decisions aimed to increase state revenues to offset the impact of the fall in oil prices. According to the decision, the fees start at SR100 ($27) for each dependent per month and it will increase to SR200 after July 2018, and SR300 and SR400 in 2019 and 2020 respectively. Based on government estimates, fees on expatriate’s dependents will yield some SR1 billion by the end the current year, while fees on dependents and levies on foreign workers at private sector companies will achieve SR24bn, SR44bn and SR65bn in 2018, 2019 and 2020, respectively. The fees will be paid annually when a residence permit is sent for renewal or the expatriate worker seeks a re-entry visa. According to the local media, dependents are categorized as follows: A wife (or wives), sons, daughters, parents, wife’s father or mother, house workers, and drivers who are registered under the name of a sponsor, namely expatriates working in commercial companies. The Saudi government plans to achieve a balanced budget by 2020. In a briefing to reporters last December, Saudi Finance Minister Mohammed Al-Jadaan said the fees do not apply to domestic workers employed by Saudi citizens. He also ruled out imposition of an income tax on Saudis, foreigners or company revenues. The Kingdom has not levied any fees on remittances sent by about 11 million expatriates currently living and working in the Kingdom.
news
04-07-2017
Passport Department: No nationality is exempted from fees on dependents
RIYADH: The General Directorate of Passports at the Ministry of Interior said here Monday that fees levied on dependents of foreign workers cover all nationalities without any exception. The Passports Department made it categorically clear that residence permits will not be renewed until fees on dependents are paid. Responding to inquires received on its Twitter account, the Passports Department further said that “the fees will include all nationalities including Yemenis and Syrians.” On Sunday, the department reiterated that the fees should be paid in advance before issuance of exit/re-entry visa or renewal of residence permits (iqama). New fees on dependents of foreign workers went into effect on July 1, and since then social media has been abuzz with different versions of the fees and the payment system. There have been also several misleading messages on these networks, saying that the fees on dependents have been rescinded or halted. Asked about such concocted messages, a source at the Passports Department said that “the information is untrue; they [the messages] are all misleading.” The monthly levy, is SR100 ($27) per dependent for the first year. The amount will gradually rise every year until 2020; it will double to SR200 after a year, then increase to SR300 in July 2019 and SR400 in 2020. It is important to note that the Council of Ministers approved the new fees as part of a fiscal balance program adopted in December 2016. The Saudi government is next year planning to raise the fees on expatriate workers in the Kingdom as the government is committed to its goal of achieving a balance between revenues and expenditure by 2020.
news
03-07-2017
Expats feel fee pinch
JEDDAH — Expats going on vacation with their families in this peak holiday season felt the pinch of the new dependent fee, which came into force on Saturday, when they tried to pay the exit-reentry visa fee for family members. Those who wanted to pay the exit-reentry visa fee for their family members were prompted by the online payment system to first clear the dependent fee for the remaining months of the validity of their iqamas (residence permits). From Saturday evening till Sunday morning, the online payment system was displaying only exit-reentry fees. But hours later it started displaying complete and accurately calculated amount of dependent fee based on the validity of iqama against each dependent. The payment of dependent fee is not only directly linked with the renewal of iqama but also the issuance of exit-reentry visa, whichever comes first. The exit-reentry process can be done against single individual dependent by paying the fee till the date of the validity of iqama. However, for the renewal of iqama it is mandatory to settle the amount for all dependents, according to a human resources expert of a leading business firm. “The fee mechanism falls under the jurisdiction of the Ministry of Finance. Passport Department (Jawazat) has nothing to say. It is working according to the new system,” a senior Jawazat official told Saudi Gazette. As part of the government’s Fiscal Balance Program, a resident’s dependent is expected to pay SR1,200 for one year as of July 1, 2017. All dependents are included in the regulation, including children, wife, as well as maids and drivers working directly for a sponsor. Monthly fee for each dependent costs SR100 this year. It will increase by SR100 per month every year reaching SR400 by 2020 for each dependent. This will generate SR1 billion in revenue by the end of the year and SR65 billion by 2020, according Okaz Arabic daily. Saliha Gardezi, a Pakistani expatriate born in the Kingdom who lives with her British husband and their baby daughter in Riyadh, said: “I totally understand Saudi Arabia’s need to give more opportunities to its nationals and tackle unemployment. However, the decision to effectively tax expats to the point that many of them will be forced to leave is demeaning to those people who have also contributed to the country’s development alongside their Saudi brothers and sisters.” Omar Ghazi, an Egyptian national living in Riyadh, said the new fees will gradually affect residents in the Kingdom. “Low-income and middle class families with children will have to send their family members on final exit,” he said, adding, “I’ve seen many people who have already done this.” Farah Al-Ahmar, a Jordanian national who grew up in the Kingdom and is currently seeking better job opportunities abroad, said the fees will be a burden on families. “It’s becoming costly for families, especially those who have several children. Such additional fees are putting pressure on non-Saudis living here,” she said.
news
28-06-2017
US lists China among worst human trafficking offenders
WASHINGTON: The United States placed China on its global list of worst offenders in human trafficking and forced labor. “China was downgraded to Tier 3 status in this year’s report, in part because it has not taken serious steps to end its own complicity to end trafficking,” US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson said about the downgrade. The reprimand of China, Washington’s main rival in the Asia-Pacific region, would come despite Trump’s budding relationship with Chinese counterpart Xi Jinping and the US president’s efforts to coax Beijing into helping to rein in North Korea’s nuclear and missile programs. Tillerson has decided to drop China to “Tier 3,” the lowest grade, putting it alongside Iran, North Korea and Syria among others, said the sources, who have knowledge of the internal deliberations and spoke on condition of anonymity. The was announced on Tuesday in an annual report published by the State Department’s Office to Monitor and Combat Trafficking in Persons. Tier 3 rating can trigger sanctions limiting access to US and international aid, but US presidents frequently waive such action. While it was unclear what led Tillerson to downgrade China, last year’s report criticized the communist government for not doing enough to curb “state-sponsored forced labor” and concluded it did not meet “minimum standards” for fighting trafficking – though it still said Beijing was making significant efforts. The Trump administration has also grown concerned about conditions in China for North Korean labor crews that are contracted through Pyongyang and provide hard currency for the North Korean leadership, which is squeezed for cash by international sanctions, said the congressional source. In Beijing, foreign ministry spokesman Lu Kang said the government was resolute in its resolve to fight human trafficking and the results were plain to see. “China resolutely opposes the US side making thoughtless remarks in accordance with its own domestic law about other countries’ work in fighting human trafficking,” he told a daily news briefing. Since taking office, Trump has praised Xi for agreeing to work on the North Korea issue during a Florida summit in April and has held back on attacking Chinese trade practices he railed against during the presidential campaign. But Trump has recently suggested he was running out of patience with China’s modest steps to pressure North Korea, which is working to develop a nuclear-tipped missile capable of hitting the United States. The annual report, covering more than 180 countries and territories, calls itself the world’s most comprehensive resource of governmental anti-human trafficking efforts. It organizes countries into tiers based on trafficking and forced labor records: Tier 1 for nations that meet minimum US standards; Tier 2 for those making significant efforts to meet those standards; Tier 2 “Watch List” for those that deserve special scrutiny; and Tier 3 for countries that fail to comply with the minimum US standards and are not making significant efforts. For the past three years, China has been ranked “Tier 2 Watch List.” In Beijing, the Chinese Foreign Ministry did not respond to a request for comment. In 2015, Reuters reported that experts in the State Department’s Office to Monitor and Combat Trafficking in Persons had sought to downgrade China that year to Tier 3 but were overruled by senior diplomats.
news
20-06-2017
UAE passport ranked most powerful in region
The UAE passport ranking advanced in 2017 to the first sport in the Arab world and 22nd globally, according to Global Passport Power Rank 2017. The Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation (MoFAIC) recently launched the UAE Passport Force initiative, with the view to place the State's passport on the list of the five most important passports in the world by 2021 upon the directives of H.H. Sheikh Abdullah bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation. This great achievement reflects the success of the UAE diplomacy during the past period in carrying out the directives of President His Highness Sheikh Khalifa bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Vice President, Prime Minister and Ruler of Dubai, His Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, and His Highness Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi and Deputy Supreme Commander of the UAE Armed Forces, on openness to all world countries. The feat also comes as a result of the efforts exerted by the UAE diplomacy to establish strategic political, economic, commercial, cultural, scientific, and educational, as well as health relations and partnerships that contribute to enhancing the status of the State at the international level. The MoFAIC underlined that the UAE 2021 Vision, which aims to make the country one of the best countries in the world by the golden jubilee of the Union, has stimulated the ministry to strengthen the State's position in the international arena, and hence, launched the UAE Passport Force initiative to enable citizens to enter all world the countries without the need for pre-entry visa requirements. "This increases happiness of the citizens," it added. The ministry stepped up the diplomatic move towards greater openness to the world through the exchange of visits and contacts at the highest levels, as well as regular holding of joint committee meetings. These moves also included opening up and strengthening relations with the Latin America, Pacific and African countries, besides strong positive presence in all regional and international forums. The MoFAIC noted that the government's strategy aims to provide distinguished services to citizens, including exemption from pre-entry visa requirements to countries of the world - this is the strategic goal of the State. It stressed that the UAE diplomacy plays a vital role in persuading governments around the world to agree to exempt citizens from the pre-entry visa requirements when they visit their countries. Ahmed Saeed Elham Al Dhaheri, Assistant Under-Secretary for Consular Affairs at the ministry, said that the ranking of the UAE passport as the first Arab passport and 22nd globally, according to Arton Capital Passport Index 2017, "is one of the most important achievements of the UAE diplomacy led, by H.H. Sheikh Abdullah bin Zayed Al Nahyan." Al Dhahiri added that these achievements are directly reflected on the citizen's happiness through travel facilitation to the largest number of countries around the world. The UAE passport allows its holder to visit 128 countries around the world without a pre-entry visa requirement. The UAE official noted that this status did not come from a vacuum, but through remarkable efforts and huge economic development achievements. "These great accomplishments reflect the strategic, political, economic, social and cultural dimensions, with important implications in terms of prestige and appreciation, being enjoyed by the UAE, led by President His Highness Sheikh Khalifa bin Zayed Al Nahyan, at international level."
news
19-06-2017
SGS denies employing expats in Saudis’ jobs
JEDDAH — There was no mention of the amount of salary or replacing jobs for Saudis, a representative from the Saudi Ground Services Company (SGS) said referring to reports published recently in several local newspapers, claiming the company handling ground services in Saudi airports had hired 60 expatriates favoring them over Saudis. “We did not say the expatriates will receive a SR6,000 salary,” said Hatim Alotorgy, SGS’s media relations officer. Commenting on the number of expats occupying operational jobs at the company, a source said: “In 2017, Saudi Ground Services Company (SGS) has experienced some movement in the recruitment sector, where a total number of 294 Saudi employees and 511 non-Saudi employees have left the company due to retirement, end of contract and other reasons.” Since SGS is a provider of ground handling services in all of the Kingdom’s airports, it has operational requirements and commitments toward more than 120 international airlines, he said. “During 2017, SGS appointed 60 non-Saudi employees who met operational requirements and have linguistic capabilities to communicate with the foreign airlines. Despite that, and during the same period, SGS has also recruited 942 Saudis in coordination with the Human Resources Development Fund,” the source added. The SGS said it has a Saudization rate of 94.9 percent across 27 airport terminals in the Kingdom. The company provides ground-handling services and support services including passenger services in the lounges and hall services at airports including fleet services, technical services, transportation services, traffic control services, and luggage services in the 27 Saudi airports for domestic and international airlines.
news
17-06-2017
Eid Al Fitr holiday for Federal Government announced
The Federal Authority for Government Human Resources has announced that Eid Al Fitr holiday for federal ministries and authorities in the UAE will begin on Saturday 29 Ramadan (corresponding to June 24). If Eid falls on Sunday, June 25, work will resume on Wednesday, June 28. If Eid falls on Monday, June 26, the holiday will still begin on Saturday, 29 Ramadan, with work resuming on Sunday, July 2. The Federal Authority for Government Human Resources conveyed greetings to President His Highness Sheikh Khalifa bin Zayed Al Nahyan, His Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice-President and Prime Minister of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai, His Highness Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi and Deputy Supreme Commander of the UAE Armed Forces, and Their Highnesses the Supreme Council Members and Rulers of the Emirates. The authority also offered greetings on the occasion to the people of the UAE and the Arab and Muslim nations around the world.
news
16-06-2017
Kuwait deports 13,000 foreigners in five months Indians top list at 23%, followed by Egyptians at 20%
Manama: Authorities in Kuwait have deported around 13,000 foreigners in the first five months of the year. The reasons included mainly violation of residency and work regulations, implications in criminal offences and breaking traffic rules, a security source said, cited by Kuwaiti daily Al Qabas on Wednesday. Indians topped the list at 23 per cent of the deportees, followed by Egyptians at 20 per cent. Indians and Egyptians make up the two largest communities in the northern Arabian Gulf state. Filipinos constituted 17 per cent, followed by Ethiopians at 15 per cent, Sri Lankans at seven per cent and Bangladeshis six per cent. “These six nationalities make up 88 per cent of the foreigners who were deported while the other nationalities make up the remaining 12 per cent,” the source said. “In a noticeable break with the past, the deportation process is now much faster. Foreigners who are placed on the deportation list are sent home within one week, just enough time to process their papers and book the ticket to fly home.” The faster process has been very successful in eliminating chaos and the high numbers of people kept inside the deportation facility, and thus vastly reduced health risks and the spread of diseases, the source added. Kuwait has regularly issued warnings that it would deport foreigners who disrupted public order, mainly through brawls, assembly and engaging in political or religious issues, or driving without a licence. Officials said there were clear instructions to apply a zero-tolerance policy towards anyone breaking the law and to refer anyone caught driving without a proper licence immediately to the deportation office for legal action. Foreigners make up two thirds of the total population of 4.2 million in Kuwait. They are mainly unskilled or low-skilled workers from Asia and Africa in the construction and service sectors.
news
16-06-2017
Outdoor midday work ban starts in Saudi Arabia Punitive action against violators as three-hour ban to last three months
Manama: Saudi Arabia stressed that the three-month ban on outdoor work in the afternoon started yesterday. “There is a ban on making people work outdoors between noon and 3pm from June 15 until September 15,” the Ministry of Labour and Social Development posted on its Twitter account. The ministry urged people to report violations on a hotline dedicated to monitoring the situation. It added that all calls would be treated “with great discretion.” Workers were cautioned against working under the scorching heat and warned not to expose themselves to possible sunstrokes. Saudi Arabia, like other Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) countries, relies heavily on foreign labour, often imported from Asia, in the construction sector. Wary of the soaring temperatures in summer, the labour ministries have introduced a strict ban on outdoor work in the early afternoon and imposed heavy penalties against employers who insist on violating the rule. The rule does not apply to workers in the oil and gas sector or on emergency duty. However, their employers have to ensure that they are well protected from the high risks of exposure to the scorching sun. According to the General Authority for Statistics, more than 12 million of the 32 million people who live in Saudi Arabia are foreigners
news
15-06-2017
Housewives avoid recruitment hassle by hiring illegal maids
JEDDAH — Many housewives admitted that they increasingly rely on illegal housemaids during Ramadan not only because of procrastination by recruitment offices in completing the hiring process but also due to the incompetence of some the hired workers. Umm Adnan said the prices of the recruitment offices are too high and they make a lot of unnecessary conditions. “I had to look for other ways to find a housemaid to help me with the demanding housework during Ramadan. A few days ago, I hired an African maid on a high salary but she refused to work because I did not have a big room for her in my house. She went back home,” said Umm Adnan. Najlaa Mohammad said the maid she had hired spent her time talking on the phone instead of working. “I did not benefit from my maid at all. She barely works. All of the work is dumped on me when it is actually her job,” said Mohammad. Umm Hasan said she prefers to hire illegal housemaids and pay them by the hour to ensure that they actually do the work. “Hiring housemaids by the hour gives me the flexibility to only hire them when I need them. When I don’t need their services, I don’t have to pay them,” said Umm Hasan. Manal Al-Shihry said the recruitment offices are inefficient and this forced her to hire illegal housemaids to get her housework done. Khalid Al-Fakhry, secretary-general of the National Society for Human Rights Society, said sponsors posting adverts on social media offering the services of housemaids is a form of human trafficking because people trade in human beings as if they are a commodity. “It is a crime if the sponsor of a housemaid offers her services to other people and earns money from the transaction. The sponsors and the housemaids should be more educated about their rights and responsibility so they can legally protect themselves,” said Al-Fakhry.
news
14-06-2017
Midday break starts from Thursday in Dubai
The Standing Committee for Labour Affairs in the Emirate of Dubai will start a mandatory midday break from 15th June to 15th September, in accordance to the Resolution No. 421 of 2017, banning the work at the afternoon in summer at exposed places and establishments whose workers operate under direct sunlight. The afternoon break will be from 12:30 pm to 3:00 pm daily. Major General Obaid Muhair Bin Surour, Deputy Director of the General Directorate of Residency and Foreigners Affairs in Dubai, and Chairman of the Standing Committee for Labour Affairs in the Emirate, said, "The committee will conduct seven patrols. There will be three inspectors in each patrol, representing the labour committee, the Ministry of Human Resources and Emiratisation and Dubai Municipality to ensure full enforcement of the midday ban as per regulations in this respect." He noted the decision ensures the protection of workers and provides a safe working environment as well as occupational safety for them during their work. Surour said in the event of violation of the afternoon work ban decision, inspectors will take a necessary action. The fine of non-compliance is Dh5,000 per worker, and a maximum of Dh50,000 in case of multiple workers who perform their work contrary to the ban, he added. According to Bin Sorour, the committee during the inspection will direct and educate employers and workers about the decision of midday break in order to protect the rights of this category of workforce, and to avoid any violation that may occur.
news
13-06-2017
Early salary for UAE government staff before Eid Al Fitr
UAE President orders early salary payment on occasion of Eid Al Fitr In accordance with the directives of President His Highness Sheikh Khalifa bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Vice President, Prime Minister and Ruler of Dubai, His Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, has ordered early salary transfers for federal government employees, social welfare beneficiaries and retirees, on the June 20, a gesture aimed at helping families ensure they can meet all their needs and requirements in the run up to Eid Al Fitr. Abu Dhabi government employees to get salaries on June 20 His Highness Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi and Deputy Supreme Commander of the UAE Armed Forces, has ordered the payment of June salaries on the 20 of this month for employees of local government entities in Abu Dhabi, and retirees, on the occasion of Eid Al Fitr. The move is in line with the directives of President His Highness Sheikh Khalifa bin Zayed Al Nahyan in his capacity as the Ruler of Abu Dhabi, and aims to enable employees meet their families needs and requirements in the run up to Eid Al Fitr. Dubai government employees to get June salary early in the month In his capacity as Ruler of Dubai, Vice President and Prime Minister, His Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, has ordered an early salary deposit for Dubai government employees in June, a gesture aimed at helping families ensure they can meet their needs and requirements during Eid Al Fitr. Government employees will receive their salaries on June, 15 (20th Ramadan), about ten days prior to Eid Al Fitr. The Dubai Government has started taking the necessary steps to implement Sheikh Mohammed's directives. Abdulrahman Saleh Al Saleh, Director of Dubai’s Department of Finance, extended thanks to Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid for the gesture, which he said reflects His Highness’ keenness to support government employees in meeting their families' requirements and needs prior to Eid and help them spend quality time with them during the upcoming holiday. Ajman Ruler orders early salary payment on occasion of Eid Al Fitr Sheikh Humaid bin Rashid Al Nuaimi, Supreme Council Member and Ruler of Ajman, has ordered early salary transfers for all employees of the Government of Ajman's departments and institutions on 20th June, on the occasion of Eid Al Fitr. Sheikh Humaid's gesture aimed at helping families ensure they can meet all their needs and requirements in the run up to Eid Al Fitr. He also wished further welfare and prosperity for the UAE's leadership and people. The Department of Finance - Ajman has started implementing the Ruler's directives and taking the necessary measures to ensure that salaries are transferred to banks on time.
news
10-06-2017
Multiple countries cut ties with Qatar Decision follows Qatar’s support to terrorist groups
On Monday, the UAE, Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, Egypt and Yemen cut ties with Qatar, accusing it of destabilising the region with its support for terrorist groups, and banned their citizens to travel to Doha, and announced the closure of land, maritime and airspace borders to Qatari transport vehicles, aircraft and sea vessels. Similar move was followed by Libya, the Maldives, and Comoros, whereas Jordan announced downgrading its diplomatic representation in Qatar and the cancellation of the license of Al Jazeera channel in the Kingdom. The Mauritanian authorities have also officially cut diplomatic relations with Qatar, and Djibouti announced reduction in its diplomatic representation with Qatar. On the other hand, Senegal called its ambassador in Qatar and expressed its support to Saudi Arabia. Qatar was also expelled from a Saudi-led coalition in fighting in Yemen. Emirates Post halts services to Qatar Emirates Post Group has suspended postal services to Qatar from all of its postal offices in the UAE from 6th June, until further notice. The EPG also advised all customers that apart from temporarily stopping the delivery of mail items to the State of Qatar, all as yet undelivered items will be returned with the corresponding postal fees according to procedures and regulations. Measures for safeguarding GCC states interests In a statement on its website, the UAE Ministry of State for Foreign Affairs said: “The UAE affirms its complete commitment and support to the Gulf Cooperation Council and to the security and stability of the GCC States. Within this framework, and based on the insistence of the State of Qatar to continue to undermine the security and stability of the region and its failure to honour international commitments and agreements, it has been decided to take the following measures that are necessary for safeguarding the interests of the GCC States in general and those of the brotherly Qatari people in particular: 1-In support of the statements issued by the sisterly Kingdom of Bahrain and sisterly Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates severs all relations with the State of Qatar, including breaking off diplomatic relations, and gives Qatari diplomats 48 hours to leave the UAE. 2-Preventing Qatari nationals from entering the UAE or crossing its points of entry, giving Qatari residents and visitors in the UAE 14 days to leave the country for precautionary security reasons. The UAE nationals are likewise banned from traveling to or staying in Qatar or transiting through its territories. 3-Closure of UAE airspace and seaports for all Qataris in 24 hours and banning all Qatari means of transportation, coming to or leaving the UAE, from crossing, entering or leaving the UAE territories, and taking all legal measures in collaboration with friendly countries and international companies with regards to Qataris using the UAE airspace and territorial waters, from and to Qatar, for national security considerations. The UAE is taking these decisive measures as a result of the Qatari authorities’ failure to abide by the Riyadh Agreement on returning GCC diplomats to Doha and its Complementary Arrangement in 2014, and Qatar’s continued support, funding and hosting of terror groups, primarily Islamic Brotherhood, and its sustained endeavours to promote the ideologies of Daesh and Al Qaeda across its direct and indirect media in addition to Qatar’s violation of the statement issued at the US-Islamic Summit in Riyadh on May 21st, 2017 on countering terrorism in the region and considering Iran a state sponsor of terrorism. The UAE measures are taken as well based on Qatari authorities’ hosting of terrorist elements and meddling in the affairs of other countries as well as their support of terror groups – policies which are likely to push the region into a stage of unpredictable consequences. While regretting the policies taken by the State of Qatar that sow seeds of sedition and discord among the region’s countries, the UAE affirms its full respect and appreciation for the brotherly Qatari people on account of the profound historical, religious and fraternal ties and kin relations binding UAE and Qatari peoples."
news
08-06-2017
Saudi Arabia revokes license of Qatar Airways, offices to close
Saudi Arabia's General Authority of Civil Aviation (GACA) has revoked the license of Qatar Airways and ordered its offices to to be closed within 48 hours, the regulatory body said said in a statement. Any licenses granted to Qatar Airways employees would also be withdrawn, the statement said. The move comes a day after GACA banned all Qatari planes from landing in the kingdom's airports, following the worst rift in years among the Gulf countries.
news
07-06-2017
Border closure hits Qataris hard
AL-AHSA — Many Qataris who own land and property in Al-Ahsa will be negatively affected by the Kingdom’s decision to close borders with Qatar, Al-Riyadh reported. Saudi-Qatari Businesses Council member Othman Al-Qanna said commercial relations between Saudi Arabia and Qatar have ancient and deep roots. “Saudi Arabia has been trading with Qatar in various sectors for decades including transportation, real estate and agriculture. Blocking the borders between the two countries will have devastating effect on Qatar as it does not have any other terrestrial exit than its border with the Kingdom,” said Al-Qanna. He added the Kingdom used to facilitate trade for Qataris. “Qataris had the same rights as Saudis when it came to trade and economic dealings. The markets in Al-Ahsa used to be filled with Qatari shoppers all year round as it is the closest governorate to the Qatari borders,” said Al-Qanna. He added Qataris used to buy food products and construction material from Al-Ahsa and transport the items back to Qatar without any limit or custom taxes. Many Qataris have million riyals investment in Al-Ahsa. There are Qatari investors in hotels, farms, real estate and other sectors. Ibrahim Al-Dowsary said the Kingdom is the only terrestrial exit for Qatar. “All of Qatar’s imports and exports come through the Kingdom’s border. Millions of trucks and car commute between the two countries on a daily basis. Blocking the borders is greatly damaging to Qatar. Saudi businessmen are also great contributors to the Qatari economy,” said Al-Dowsary. He added Saudi businessmen own millions of riyals of investments in the Qatari stock market. “Saudis are in fact the biggest investors in the Qatari stock market. Saudis also have big investments in the Qatari transportation sector. Moreover, Al-Ahsa is considered the number one shopping destination for Qataris. They mostly come for Al-Qaysariyah Market, Al-Hadadid Street, Al-Majid Street, Al-Aitham Mall. Al-Ahsa used to have more Qatari shoppers than Saudis. But that will all change over the next few days,” said Al-Dowsary.
news
06-06-2017
Emirates, Flydubai, Air Arabia and Etihad suspends flights to and from Qatar
Emirates has announced that it will suspend its flights to and from Doha, starting from the morning of 6th June, until further notice. In a statement today, the company said, "The last flight from Dubai to Doha will depart as EK847 at 02:30 a.m. on 6th June. The last flight from Doha to Dubai will depart as EK848 at 03:50 a.m. on 6th June. "Emirates’ flights to and from Doha today (5th June), will operate as normal. Travellers bound for Doha, who are boarding their flight from airports around the Emirates network today (5th June), will be advised to make alternative arrangements. "All customers booked on Emirates’ flights to and from Doha will be provided with alternative options, including full refunds on unused tickets and free rebooking to the nearest alternate Emirates destinations." Air Arabia to suspend flights to Qatar from Tuesday An Air Arabia spokesperson today confirmed that flights between UAE and Qatar will be suspended effective June 6th, until further notice. In a statement, the airline said that Air Arabia passengers who hold existing reservations on Air Arabia flights to Doha beyond the 5th of June will be provided with the option of a full refund, or to be rebooked onto other destinations across Air Arabia’s network. The last outbound flight from Sharjah to Doha (G9134) will depart today, June 5th at 18:30 (local time), while the last inbound flight from Doha to Sharjah (G9135) will depart today, June 5th at 19:25 (local time). Air Arabia flights between Ras al-Khaimah and Doha will also be suspended starting June 6th, 2017. "Air Arabia regrets any inconvenience caused by the suspension," it added. Etihad suspends flights to and from Qatar Etihad Airways has announced that it will suspend all flights to and from Qatar until further notice. According to an Etihad statement today, Etihad flights to Doha will operate as scheduled on Monday, but the services will stop from Tuesday, 6th June, until further notice. "The last flight from Abu Dhabi to Doha will depart as EY399 at 02:45 (local time) on 6th June. The last flight from Doha to Abu Dhabi will depart as EY390 at 04:00 (local time) on 6th June. Flights on 5th June will operate as normal," added the statement. The statement added that all customers who are booked on Etihad Airways flights to and from Doha are being provided with alternative options, including full refunds on unused tickets and free re-booking to the nearest alternate Etihad Airways destinations. Flydubai to suspend all flights between Dubai and Doha Flydubai has announced that that it will suspend all flights to and from Qatar starting for tomorrow. According to a Flydubai statement today, the carrier said that all flights starting Tuesday would be suspended. "Travellers who have purchased tickets between Dubai and Doha should contact their travel agent, flydubai store in Doha, or through the call centre in Dubai to retrieve ticket value," added the statement.
news
06-06-2017
UAE, Saudi Arabia, Bahrain and Egypt cut diplomatic ties with Qatar
6.40 AM Tuesday, 6 June 2017 RSS Feeds Pinterest Google+ Facebook Twitter Instagram Youtube LinkedIn Home News Emirates Government Region World Law & Order Entertainment Lifestyle Offbeat Business Property Sports Classifieds Videos Pictures Bollywood Jobs Gold Rate Home News Government submit Advanced UAE, Saudi Arabia, Bahrain and Egypt cut diplomatic ties with Qatar By Wam Published Monday, June 05, 2017 "The UAE affirms its complete commitment and support to the Gulf Cooperation Council and to the security and stability of the GCC States. Within this framework, and based on the insistence of the State of Qatar to continue to undermine the security and stability of the region and its failure to honour international commitments and agreements, it has been decided to take the following measures that are necessary for safeguarding the interests of the GCC States in general and those of the brotherly Qatari people in particular: 1-In support of the statements issued by the sisterly Kingdom of Bahrain and sisterly Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates severs all relations with the State of Qatar, including breaking off diplomatic relations, and gives Qatari diplomats 48 hours to leave the UAE. 2-Preventing Qatari nationals from entering the UAE or crossing its points of entry, giving Qatari residents and visitors in the UAE 14 days to leave the country for precautionary security reasons. The UAE nationals are likewise banned from traveling to or staying in Qatar or transiting through its territories. 3-Closure of UAE airspace and seaports for all Qataris in 24 hours and banning all Qatari means of transportation, coming to or leaving the UAE, from crossing, entering or leaving the UAE territories, and taking all legal measures in collaboration with friendly countries and international companies with regards to Qataris using the UAE airspace and territorial waters, from and to Qatar, for national security considerations. The UAE is taking these decisive measures as a result of the Qatari authorities’ failure to abide by the Riyadh Agreement on returning GCC diplomats to Doha and its Complementary Arrangement in 2014, and Qatar’s continued support, funding and hosting of terror groups, primarily Islamic Brotherhood, and its sustained endeavours to promote the ideologies of Daesh and Al Qaeda across its direct and indirect media in addition to Qatar’s violation of the statement issued at the US-Islamic Summit in Riyadh on May 21st, 2017 on countering terrorism in the region and considering Iran a state sponsor of terrorism. The UAE measures are taken as well based on Qatari authorities’ hosting of terrorist elements and meddling in the affairs of other countries as well as their support of terror groups – policies which are likely to push the region into a stage of unpredictable consequences. While regretting the policies taken by the State of Qatar that sow seeds of sedition and discord among the region’s countries, the UAE affirms its full respect and appreciation for the brotherly Qatari people on account of the profound historical, religious and fraternal ties and kin relations binding UAE and Qatari peoples." Egypt severs diplomatic relations with Qatar The Egyptian government has decided to sever diplomatic relations with the State of Qatar in light of the insistence of the Qatari government to take an anti-Egyptian stance and the failure of all attempts to dissuade it from supporting terrorist organisations, especially the Muslim Brotherhood organisation and its leaders, who have been sentenced in the course of terrorist operations targeting the security and safety of Egypt. The Middle East News Agency quoted a statement issued by the Egyptian Foreign Ministry as saying that the decision is the result of Qatar's promotion of al-Qaeda and Daesh's ideologies and supporting the terrorist operations in Sinai, as well as Qatar's insistence on interfering in the internal affairs of Egypt and the countries of the region. Bahrain severs relations with Qatar Based on the insistence of the State of Qatar to continue to undermine the security and stability of the Kingdom of Bahrain and to interfere in its domestic affairs, as well as on the escalation and incitement of its media and its support of acts of terror, and its financing of armed groups associated with Iran to carry out subversive attacks and spread chaos in the Kingdo
news
05-06-2017
Saudi courts to force Saudi Oger to pay employees’ entitlements
JEDDAH – The Executive Court recently announced that verdicts have been issued to force Saudi Oger to pay entitlements to its employees. The Executive Court confirmed that it has granted the company the grace period allowed by the regulations so that it implements the verdict. The Court is in the process of completing procedures to compel the company to pay the dues owed to its employees through sequestration of the company’s properties and assets. Sources have told Okaz that the executive courts are getting ready to take several businessmen, realtors, managers and chairmen of the board of directors of banks and big companies to the Bureau of Investigation and Public Prosecution (BIP) for procrastinating the implementation of final court verdicts.
news
29-05-2017
Saudis ‘Googling’ for housemaids in Ramadan
Jeddah — Hours before the start of Ramadan, search engine Google documented 467,000 pages carrying the sentence “searching for maids in Saudi,” and 257,000 pages with the words “housemaid sponsorship transfer” and “domestic help for hire for a month.” Despite the fact that agents are active weeks before the holy month fulfilling the need of families for domestic help in Ramadan, the online search for housemaids indicate that there is a thriving black market in this field. The fees for sponsorship transfer jumped from SR15,000 to SR35,000. The fee differs based on nationalities. There is an increased demand in Ramadan from families for domestic help, which is met by an increase in wages demanded by housemaids. Domestic helps also exploit the need of families and decide to work on an hourly payment basis in Ramadan, with wages ranging from SR25 to SR40 an hour. The wages differ based on the number of family members and the size of the house. It has been estimated that some of these housemaids earn between SR8,000 and SR9,000 in Ramadan. A Saudi female lawyer Najwa Filimban said that these ads constitute human trafficking which is banned by the Saudi law. She said that the ads on sponsorship transfer or sponsors allowing their housemaids to work for others for a fee are similar to slavery. Those who post such ads can be imprisoned for a maximum of 15 years and/or fined SR1 million. In Bahrain, authorities filed a case of human trafficking against a recruitment agency which placed an ad earlier this month offering an Ethiopian housemaid as a prize for a Ramadan contest. The contest had only one condition: the winner must have a work permit for the housemaid.
news
26-05-2017
Labor minister signs agreement to recruit Kenyan workers
JEDDAH: The Saudi Minister of Labor and Social Development, Ali bin Nasser Al-Ghafees, and his Kenyan counterpart on Thursday signed an agreement for the recruitment of Kenyan domestic workers to meet growing demand for experienced and skilled domestic workers from labor-sending countries. The agreement provides for a legal framework to enhance cooperation between the parties, protect the rights of employers and domestic workers, regulate their contractual relationship, facilitate the recruitment and employment process, and control recruitment costs in both countries. The agreement states that employing domestic workers should only happen via relevant offices, companies or recruitment agencies, or through authorized employment centers in both countries. It also states that the Kenyan Labor Ministry commits to ensuring that the labor force is medically and psychologically qualified to work in the Kingdom, and that domestic workers do not have criminal records, are trained in specialized institutes in domestic work, are aware of Saudi customs and traditions, and meet the terms and conditions of the employment contract. The Kenyan ministry will also facilitate the departure of potential workers to the Kingdom within a month from the date of receiving the entry visa, and ensure workers who have been deported from the Kingdom are not brought back to work there. The ministry will ensure the employment of domestic workers is in accordance with applicable laws, rules and regulations, and will take measures to protect the rights of employers.
news
23-05-2017
Early salary for government staff before May 25 on occasion of Ramadan
Vice President, Prime Minister and Ruler of Dubai, His Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, has ordered the early salary payment for the Federal Government employees, social benefits for Emiratis and retirees as of May 25 on the occasion of the holy month of Ramadan. The move follows the directives of President His Highness Sheikh Khalifa bin Zayed Al Nahyan. It also aims to enable families prepare for the holy month of Ramadan.
news
23-05-2017
Kerala leaders at the consulate
Former Kerala Chief Minister Oommen Chandy and former Minister of Culture, Rural Development and Non-Resident Keralite Affairs K.C. Joseph with Consul General Md. Noor Rahman Sheikh and community leaders at the Consulate General of India in Jeddah on Saturday. — Courtesy photo
news
20-05-2017
Take advantage of amnesty, Kerala leader tells compatriots
Former Kerala Chief Minister Oommen Chandy has urged residency law violators in the Indian community to take advantage of the general amnesty announced by the Saudi authorities and leave the country. He expressed satisfaction over the arrangements made by the Indian embassy and the consulate in facilitating the exit procedures of visa overstayers and violators. Chandy made the remarks while addressing a press conference in Riyadh on Thursday, the first day of his three-day visit to the Kingdom. He attended several functions and programs in Riyadh and Dammam on Thursday and Friday, and will visit Jeddah on Saturday. Former Kerala Minister of Culture, Rural Development and Non-Resident Keralite Affairs K.C. Joseph is also accompanying Chandy during the visit. Chandy held talks with officials of Deportation Center (Tarheel) in Shumaisi and the Indian embassy about the arrangements being made to facilitate the departure of visa violators to leave the Kingdom before ending the 90-day grace period. “During the talks, the Tarheel officials underscored the need for creating awareness among expatriates about the need to abide by the labor and residency rules and take advantage of the current amnesty period, which would be the last of its kind,” Chandy said while expressing satisfaction over the vast arrangements at the Shumaisi deportation center where special counters have been set up for Indian expatriates to process their exit procedures. Chandy also visited the Indian embassy and held talks with Hemant Kotalwar, Charge d’ Affaires, and Anil Nautiyal, public information officer for community welfare matters. Chandy, a senior leader of the Indian National Congress party, urged the Election Commission of India to introduce online voting system for the Indian expatriates in future elections. He said the previous United Democratic Front (UDF) government led by him took serious steps to include expatriates in the voters’ list. The Kerala leader asked the Indian civil aviation authorities to take measures to stop the practice by airline companies of hiking fares during the summer vacation and the festival seasons. He drew attention to a series of unsuccessful measures taken over the years to resolve the travel-related issues of expatriates. “We had an ambitious plan to launch the Air Kerala service but unfortunately the conditions set by the federal government stood in the way of realizing this project,” he said. Norka Consultant Shihab Kottukad, OICC leaders C.M. Kunhi Kumbala, Abdullah Vallanchira, Ismail Erumeli, Shaji Sona, Shaji Kunnikkode, and Shafeeq Kinalur were also present at the press conference. Chandy and Joseph attended more than two dozen programs and activities on the first two days of their visit to Riyadh and Dammam. They held talks with community leaders, listened to the grievances of blue-collar workers and nurses, and attended the receptions hosted by the Overseas Indian Cultural Congress (OICC). They will attend several programs and receptions in Jeddah on Saturday. All the preparations and arrangements are in place to receive the Keralite leader, according to K.T.A. Muneer, president of the western regional committee of the OICC.
news
19-05-2017
Remittance: Govt to take no fee
Bangladeshi migrant workers will be able to send home their hard-earned money free of cost likely from July as the government has made a move to boost the remittance inflow. In the next budget, Tk 500 crore to TK 700 crore might be allocated to bear the cost of remittance transfer, according to finance ministry officials. As remittance fell drastically recently, the government is taking initiatives to encourage expatriates to send money through banking channels. From a meeting at the finance ministry on Thursday, Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina issued a set of directives on providing incentives to expatriate Bangladeshis. Finance Minister AMA Muhith and top officials of the ministry participated in the meeting for discussing the next national budget. Yesterday, at a pre-budget view-exchange meeting with economic reporters at his secretariat office, Muhith said the prime minister had directed the ministry to ensure that the expatriate Bangladeshis do not have to pay for sending money home. As per the PM's directives, the ministry will take initiatives in the next budget, he added. The minister also said the remittance inflow dropped as the income of the expatriates fell in the Middle East countries this year. Besides, many migrant workers are making some savings abroad instead of sending the whole of their income. Remittance from expatriates is one of the main pillars of Bangladesh economy. Though manpower export is on the rise, remittance is on the decline. In 2015-16, it went down by 2.52 percent from the previous fiscal year. In the first 10 months of the current fiscal year, it fell by around 17 percent. Last week, a five-member committee was formed from a high-level meeting held at the finance ministry. It would make recommendations to the government in the next two weeks about how the incentives would be given to the migrants. Earlier, as per the finance minister's directives, a two-member team of Bangladesh Bank visited several countries, including those in the Middle East, to find out the causes of decrease in remittance inflow. The team submitted a report to the finance ministry. It found that expatriates have experienced a fall in their income in the Middle Eastern countries. Besides, they are sending money home through hundi, an unauthorised way of money transaction. The unofficial exchange rate is much higher than the official rate. The cost of sending money through the official channel is also higher than in hundi. According to Dilip Ratha, a migration and remittance expert of World Bank, international migrants have to bear high charges of remitting money. The global average cost of sending $200 remained flat at 7.45 percent in the first quarter of this year. The rate is significantly higher than the Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) target of 3 percent.
news
15-05-2017
14 recruitment offices shut down
Riyadh — A total of 14 recruitment offices were permanently closed down and another 40 faced temporary shutdown for violation of recruitment rules and regulations. Spokesman of the Ministry of Labor and Social Development Khaled Abalkhail said in a press statement on Sunday that labor inspectors conducted 661 visits to several recruitment offices and companies from Jan. 1 to April 30 in a bid to make sure that they comply with rules and regulations. He said the ministry solved 174 complaints filed against recruitment offices and companies. He urged citizens to report any violations through the unified customer service number, 19911, or by visiting the Musaned website (https://www.musaned.gov.sa/) or by visiting the nearest MLSD branch. The ministry is keen to protect the rights of Saudi nationals from illegal practices including exploitation and breach of contracts, emphasized Abalkhail. He stressed that inspection campaigns will never lose momentum to track down violators. According to the ministry, the Musaned website is a full-fledged platform that lists 605 recruitment offices and has a databank of over 40,000 domestic workers’ resumes. A total of 61,411 domestic workers were recruited through the website. The ministry highlighted that the Musaned website is a positive shift that allows Saudi citizens to recruit domestic workers. It aims to develop the domestic labor sector in the Kingdom.
news
08-05-2017
Law needed to restrain male behavior in mixed-gender workplaces: Study
DAMMAM — A prominent sociologist has suggested new legislation to restrain men who pose a threat in mixed-gender work environments through their menacing behavior toward women colleagues. Eman Al-Adwani said the Saudi labor law does not include articles that clearly define workplace harassment and set out punishment for abusive behavior. Al-Adwani conducted a research study on the rights of women working in the retail sector as envisaged in the labor law. She presented her findings and recommendations to the Department of Shariah and Law at Naif Arab University for Security Sciences. In her study, Al-Adwani highlighted how the Saudi Labor Law currently lacks any mechanism to address the abuse and harassment women employees face in the private sector. “The labor law needs articles that clearly define all types of harassment as well as punishments for them,” said Al-Adwani. “There are two types of harassment female employees generally go through. The first type is verbal and physical harassment; it is initiated directly or indirectly through sexually explicit remarks and inappropriate stares or gestures. The second type is blackmail and often involves withholding promotions and other incentives unless the victim responds positively to her superior’s wishes,” she added. Al-Adwani’s study explores the main problems and requirements of female employees in their workplaces. “From an Islamic perspective, both men and women are encouraged to work. Islam also makes it clear that women should be protected from all sorts of harm in the workplace,” Al-Adwani pointed out. It is also important to recognize and appreciate the fact that women’s inclusion in the job market had brought massive benefits to the national economy and Saudi society as a whole, she said. For the most part, the labor law does not differentiate between women and men but for a few exceptions. The Ministry of Labor and Social Development was the first authority to give women the permission to work in the retail sector. Implementing the decision in stages, the ministry sought to gradually introduce women into the national workforce. “Now the onus is on the Ministry of Labor to further help women by punishing men who harass them in their places of work,” added Al-Adwani.
news
06-05-2017
The dark world of illegals in Oman Desperate people are smuggled into Oman to work odd jobs in order to feed their families back home
Muscat: Ahmad Rasheed, a Pakistani national, who entered Oman illegally one year ago, hunts for odd jobs every day. “I risked my life just to put food on the table for my family back home,” Rasheed told Gulf News. Rasheed sold his family land to pay the agent who smuggled him on foot from Pakistan into Iran. From there, him and eight others the took a boat to Oman, but because they were packed like sardines in a dark cabin for three days, they became susceptible to disease. “Two died of malaria on board and their bodies were thrown out to sea.” When he finally arrived in Oman’s Shinas province, Rasheed was greeted by a fellow Pakistani national who hid him and the others in a farm for two weeks before heading to the capital. In Muscat, he began working odd jobs where he would earn anywhere between 60-190 Omani riyals a month. The meager wages, compared to the average Omani monthly income of 450 riyals, are barely enough to survive. “I send 50 riyals back home to my family and the rest I spend on food and rent,” he says. Rasheed pays around 10 riyals a month for a bedspace in a room that he shares with eight other workers. Job opportunities for illegals are hard to come by because of the large volume of illegals competing for jobs—most coming from Pakistan, Iran and Yemen but also from India, Bangladesh, Somalia and Afghanistan. Most of them work in the construction sector for eight riyals per day. Rasheed lives under extreme pressure to find work each day coupled with the fear that he could be arrested and deported anytime. “I regret now coming,” he said, adding that he can’t even afford to eat some days, even though a cheap meal costs only 700 Baiza. Rasheed is planning to stay for another six months and if his situation does not improve he will hand himself over to Omani authorities for deportation. “I don’t think I have any more options. The situation here is very difficult. I pray to Allah to find another job back home,” he said. According to Royal Oman Police (ROP) estimates, two people entered Oman illegally everyday in 2016 which amounts to around 700 illegals a year. Hundreds have been arrested and deported and despite Omani authorities warning companies not to hire the workers, many still do because of how cheap they are willing to work for. “The illegals are not only an economic threat to the country, but also threaten the country’s social fabric,” an ROP official who declined to be named told Gulf News. Many, who find themselves in desperate situations, resort to theft and drug dealing to survive. Oman, because of its proximity to many narcotic producing nations, has become a go-to point to transit the drugs. Authorities also worry about the spread of disease, since illegals are not screened by health authorities. In 2014, authorities began a serious crackdown on illegals, resulting in a 43 per cent drop in their numbers. They intensified security sweeps in industrial areas and farms where the illegals are usually hidden by the smugglers. Also, more people are coming forward to report illegals, which has also helped authorities. Entry points Where the illegals enter the country, depends largely on their nationalities. Most traffickers use the northern and south coast of Batinah governorate. Yemeni and Somali infiltrators enter from the rugged mountains of the Dhofar governorate in the south of Oman. Iranian infiltrators sneak into the country via the Khassab province of the Musandam region, which lies only 50 kilometres from the Strait of Hormuz.
news
05-05-2017
Entry visas on arrival for Indians with US visas or green card holders
The Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation has announced that as of Monday, 1st May, entry visas will be granted to Indians holding standard passports with United States, US, visas or are US green card holders, upon their arrival at UAE ports. Ahmed Al Dhaheri, Assistant Under-Secretary for Consular Affairs at the Ministry, explained that these new procedures are based on a decision by the Council of Ministers to allow holders of standard passports issued by the Republic of India to obtain an entry visa upon arrival at UAE ports for Dh100, with the possibility of staying for a period up to 14 days providing that the validity of their passport and their US visa or green card is not less than six months. The same period of stay can be extended once for a similar period with the same payment. He stressed that this decision reflects the desire of the UAE Government to strengthen its co-operation with the Government of India, which will positively affect the development of bilateral relations between both countries and enhance their co-operation in the tourism, economic and investment sectors. The UAE is considered an attractive destination in the region for visitors and business owners from around the world, he added.
news
04-05-2017
Human rights experts needed
THE best the Shoura Council has come out with this season is the report on the Kingdom’s compliance with international charters, conventions, treaties and agreements ratified by it. This ensued a Shoura Council’s study on the performance of the Human Rights Commission (HRC). The best thing in this report, truly, is the recommendation calling for producing Saudi staff with international experience in all human rights fields. Such employees can work as envoys, investigators and experts in international organizations. The recommendations stress the need to train Saudi personnel to work in posts of rapporteurs and envoys. Such staff can look into certain international cases and issues. This will enable the Kingdom to have an impact on the international arena, the report said. I have written repeatedly on this subject for many years. However, it is better for something to come late than never. Actually, we have a clear shortcoming in dealing with international organizations. We left them to seek their information from unqualified people, those who engage in double-dealing and others who harbor hatred against our country. As a result, these organizations come out with illogical reports that are totally against us. I have said this earlier and I reiterate: These organizations are not to blame and we do not have the right to blow our top when they issue unfair and biased reports against us, as they are devoid of any correct and authentic information. This is because we are the ones who have left them to look for sources of information that do not depict the real situation in Saudi Arabia. They do not present the correct perspective, irrespective of reports being in our interest or against us. What is important is that we should have qualified and sincere Saudis, who are capable of dealing logically with these organizations. They should be capable of providing all the information required by these organizations so that they do not resort to double-standards! As to the second issue, I recall it very well. I wish the Shoura Council discusses this point in particular during the sessions on the Human Rights Commission report. The issue is the United Nations halls being vacant of any Saudi organizations or societies when the Kingdom’s reports are presented. I visited the UN earlier and attended discussions on several international reports. This was during a course at the Geneva Institute for Human Rights. I had discussions with a number of officials and representatives of international societies and organizations there. The arrangement of seats (in UN halls) is such that usually there are equal seats for international societies and organizations when the report of any country is discussed. They informed me that whenever Saudi reports are discussed, the Saudi government side is full. Meanwhile, there is no representation from nongovernment organizations and societies. The way I see this matter, there is a shortcoming in this connection because those who fill the Saudi NGO seats are foreign quarters that do not represent us. By leaving these seats empty, we have allowed such foreign quarters alone to occupy the vacant slots. There are many issues in the field of rights, especially at the international level and in connection with local societies. Probably establishing societies that specialize in women’s and children’s rights will put an end to such seats remaining vacant. They will not give way to those who have ulterior motives and are bent on fault-finding. Such people always make sure that they alone have access to such organizations.
news
02-05-2017
More jobs in insurance sector to be nationalized: SAMA governor
RIYADH — Technical and managerial jobs in the insurance sector will be soon nationalized, according to Ahmed Al-Kholifey, governor of the Saudi Arabian Monetary Authority (SAMA). “About 58 percent of the jobs in the insurance and reinsurance companies have so far been Saudized,” he said during his opening speech at the 4th Saudi Insurance Symposium in Riyadh on Sunday. Al-Kholifey said that SAMA, in cooperation and coordination with the Ministry of Education, is granting scholarships to Saudi students to study actuarial sciences within the program of “Your Scholarship is your Profession”. SAMA also cooperates with a number of Saudi universities, headed by King Fahd University of Petroleum and Minerals and King Saud University, which provide such specialization to students. The SAMA governor highlighted the most important challenges facing the insurance sector in the Kingdom, its low contribution to the GDP recording 1.5% last year. He said SAMA has asked all car insurance companies to establish two separate departments, one for claims and the second for customer care. “Jobs in these two departments could fully be nationalized,” he said. Al-Kholifey referred to SAMA’s instructions to insurance companies to deposit the amounts of compensation for the claims and the amounts payable in case of cancellation of a policy directly in bank accounts of beneficiaries through bank transfer via a fast system, and settle claims of third party vehicle insurance for individuals, not exceeding SR2000, within a period not exceeding five business days from the date of receiving the claim. “SAMA has launched 38 new initiatives under the title ‘Insurance Vision 2022’ so as to increase the number of insured cars,” he said, adding that the drop in the number of the insured vehicles have raised the insurance premium. Abdulaziz Al-Sudais, Chairman of the Insurance General Committee, said that the insurance sector has witnessed a remarkable increase, as the total gross written premiums reached SR36.8 billion in 2016, gross claims paid reached SR26 billion and profit growth reached SR2.1 billion compared to SR810 million in 2015 with an increase of 160 percent. Hisham Tashkandi, director of SAMA’s department to supervise the insurance companies, said that since early April the Authority has made new parameters for insurance companies asking them to focus more on the data about drivers rather the cars. “The data should consist of driver’s nationality, age, place of residence and other important information,” he said. Tashkandi said SAMA would give the violating insurance companies three warnings at different times to correct their violations otherwise they would be banned from selling their products.
news
24-04-2017
MLSD seeks stakeholders’ views on mall Saudization
RIYADH – The Ministry of Labor and Social Development (MLSD) has urged all stakeholders in the private sector to submit their suggestions with regard to the proposal to implement 100 percent Saudization in shopping malls all over the Kingdom. The ministry posted its recommendations in this respect on its community participation portal called “Together We Improve”, which can be accessed through the link http://qarar.ma3an.gov.sa/a/ideas/recent/campaigns/19927. Minister of Labor and Social Development Ali Al-Ghafees on Thursday issued an order to restrict employment in shopping malls to Saudi nationals, who currently make up only one in five staff in the retail sector. Khaled Abalkhail, spokesman for the ministry, said employers and all others affected by the move shall participate in the process of improving the decision taken by the ministry with their suggestions and observations. “The ministry will only give finishing touches to the decision after examining the suggestions and opinions of all stakeholders,” he said. The spokesman said suggestions and proposals could cover those areas such as giving financial support to employers to help them pay the minimum monthly salary of SR3,000 to Saudi employees, support of up to SR1 million for Saudis wishing to own shopping outlets, making available transportation and childcare facilities for women employees, and free training facilities. Abalkhail said the ministry is keen to listen to opinions and suggestions of all stakeholders before announcing the final decision and the deadline for implementing it. The active participation of all those concerned would enable the ministry to take ideal decisions, serving the interests of all parties concerned, he said. Meanwhile, Ahmad Qattan, undersecretary for labor policies at the ministry, urged employers and all those concerned to submit their suggestions with regard to its new guidelines on work ethics, posted on the ministry’s portal. “The guide is aimed at improving the employer-employee relations as well as the work environment, increasing efficiency and productivity of employees, and administration of the firm. The guide also includes several other aspects pertaining to work ethics related to misuse of power, fairness, equal treatment, general appearance, honesty, trustworthiness, etiquette and collective responsibility,” Qattan said. Bank accounts for house helps RIYADH – The Ministry of Labor and Social Development (MLSD) has launched a scheme to open bank accounts for the disbursement of salaries and allowances of domestic workers. Khaled Abalkhail, spokesman for the ministry, said the scheme aimed at protecting contractual obligations and rights of both domestic work and their employers. The scheme would cover all domestic workers in the Kingdom. Employers must have online documentation of the labor contract through the portal of Musaned (www.musaned.gov.sa), with details of monthly salary and other particulars before opening the bank accounts. The domestic workers can lodge their complaints if any through Musaned portal or by contacting customer service number of 19911, he said.
news
17-04-2017
Lanka ups housemaid recruitment fees by about 92%
DAMMAM — Sri Lankan recruitment offices have turned their back on agreement with their Saudi counterparts by raising housemaid recruitment fees by about 92 percent from US$1,560 to US$3,000, according to chairman of the recruitment committee of the Eastern Province Chamber of Commerce and Industry Hussain Al-Mutairi. Sri Lankan recruitment offices have stopped travel permits for their manpower and nullified all documents they received from the Kingdom in order to enforce their decision and put pressure on Saudi recruiters, said Mutairi. He said Sri Lankan recruitment offices went against signed agreements and increased the monthly salary of housemaids from SR1,100 to SR1,300 starting February. “The Sri Lankan offices wanted to force their Saudi counterparts to sign new contracts which are contrary to the rates set by the Ministry of Labor and Social Development,” Mutairi said. Market sources said a number of Saudi recruiters were likely to accept the new rates so as to avoid SR100 in fines for every day of delay in the arrival of housemaids. They said that some 300 Sri Lankan recruitment offices made an agreement among themselves to reject any housemaid recruitment request from Saudi Arabia for a fee which is less than US$3,000.
news
13-04-2017
Millions of migrant Gulf workers forced to pay for right to work, say US researchers in a report
NEW YORK: South Asian migrants powering the construction boom in Gulf countries are often illegally made to pay for their own recruitment, adding to hardships of poor working conditions and wages, according to an investigation. Millions of migrants seeking a way out of poverty by working in Gulf nations from Qatar to the UAE must routinely pay fees that can equal a year’s salary, US researchers said in a report. “Recruitment is not free,” said David Segall, of New York University’s Stern Center for Business and Human Rights, who coauthored the report. “Somebody does have to bear these costs, but that of course should be the employing company.” The findings come as conditions for construction workers from India, Nepal and Bangladesh in the 2022 FIFA World Cup host, Qatar, have come under scrutiny from rights groups who say migrants live in squalor and work without proper access to water and shelter. In five fact-finding missions to the Gulf and South Asia, the researchers found workers are typically made to pay for their airfare from South Asia and their work visa — often at inflated prices. Selling visas for profit is illegal in the six Gulf countries the researchers investigated. But violations are rarely prosecuted and punished by authorities, their report said. Bangladeshi workers paid as much as $5,200 in recruitment fees, according to the study, the highest price among other South Asian construction workers, who number some 10 million people in the Gulf. In rare cases, construction companies took on expenditures to recruit their workers, the study found. The fees had the effect of pushing already destitute migrants further into poverty by tying them to high-interest loans. “These are people who are already desperate enough that they feel that they need to undertake this journey, leave their families in order to just achieve the possibility of economic success,” Segall told the Thomson Reuters Foundation. “For them to be in debt before they even start this journey is really an injustice,” he said in a phone interview. Reports of abuse against migrant domestic workers have prompted countries such as Kenya, Ethiopia, Uganda and Indonesia to ban their citizens in recent years from seeking jobs in the Middle East. The New York University report expands on the findings of an investigation conducted in Qatar and released last week, which concluded hundreds of Asian workers paid recruitment fees.
news
11-04-2017
Sponsors to be fined for failure to receive housemaids at airports
DAMMAM — Sponsors who do not turn up at airports to receive housemaids will be fined, Ministry of Labor and Social Development spokesman Khalid Abalkhail was quoted as saying by Al-Watan Arabic daily on Monday. He said housemaids who are not picked up by their sponsors are taken to a shelter home where they stay for a maximum of 15 days before they are transferred to another sponsor. But the sponsor who hired the maid will be fined SR150 for every day the housemaid stays in the shelter home, said Abalkhail. Eastern Province Passports Department spokesman Col. Mualla Al-Otaibi said if the sponsor does not pick up his housemaid within 12 hours of her arrival she is sent to Housemaids Affairs Office. The passports department office at the airport cooperates with the Ministry of Labor and Social Development, he said. Sponsors can check the arrival status of their housemaids through Abshir portal, said Al-Otaibi. Through the portal sponsors can also assign someone else to pick up housemaids if they are unable to do so personally. “When housemaids arrive at the airport, an employee from recruitment company escorts them through the customs and passports process,” said Al-Otaibi. Sponsors then come to recruitment office representatives at the airport and verify their identity information. Some sponsors complained that the process of picking up housemaids takes a long time. One of the sponsors said he had to wait for six hours before he was able to finally pick up his housemaid.
news
10-04-2017
Vision 2030 aims to increase job opportunities in the recreation sector
Jeddah — Strengthening the recreation sector in line with Saudi Vision 2030 will contribute to providing more job opportunities and decreasing unemployment. It will boost tourism by holding festivals and activities in the regions. It will enable government funds to benefit by contributing to recreation centers and developing them. It will raise the percentage of citizens who exercise from 13 to 40 years of age. It will encourage investments and forging partnerships with international recreation companies.
news
08-04-2017
Indians swarm embassy counter in Dammam to avail amnesty
Hundreds of Indians have swarmed special Indian Embassy counter opened at International Indian School Dammam (Boys Section) to facilitate issuance of Emergency Certificate (temporary passport) to those whose stay in the Kingdom has become illegal. The Saudi government has announced an amnesty period of three months in which all illegal expatriates must leave the Kingdom, without any penalty or jail term. The Saudi government has warned of severe punishment for illegals after the amnesty period. Ironically the Labor office has stopped giving appointment to the illegals — the perquisite of departure to have interview at the Labor office prior to stamping of exit. According to voluntary organizations working alongside the embassy at the school premises, the labor office has stopped giving appointments. These voluntary organizations create a temporary account for the applicant on the basis of EC and then seek appointment. According to Shahjahan, a social activist from South Indian State of Kerala the labor office is not giving any new appointment. “It is frustrating because now any new appointment will be given after April 30. That means one month of the three-month amnesty period will automatically lapse,” he said. Saudi Gazette could not get any comment from the Labor department as no one responded to the calls. However, an official who spoke on condition of anonymity told Saudi Gazette that the requests for appointments are unprecedented. “You are viewing with only Indian perspective while we have to tackle nationals from more than a dozen countries. He said that the appointments would soon restart.” Many voluntary organizations are anticipating that the government may extend the amnesty period considering the huge number of illegals. According to Kailash Dariya, an Indian Embassy official, who has devised a very coordinated plan to attend to the Indian expatriates, in the last five days they have issued more than 1,000 ECs. “It is an unending queue but we are determine to clear each and every request of EC,” he said. It is very evident that the current team in Dammam is understaffed and they need more people from Riyadh. The role of the embassies is essentially restricted to issuance of travel document in case its nationals do not possess valid passport. The Indian Embassy has shown an extremely flexible approach and has simplified rules to facilitate issue of travel papers. The most appalling sight at the school premises was presence of huge number of women and children among the EC seekers. None of the families were ready to speak for the fear of punitive action by the authorities. It was painful to see that several Indian expatriates, who are today standing in the queue as illegals, are essentially victims of either their sponsors or their once flourishing companies, which have now gone bankrupt. The enormity of the situation can be assessed from the fact that just last year one of the previously listed construction company in Dammam, which was eventually facing liquidation and whose major shareholders were recently sentenced to jail terms for fraudulent activities, needed over SR40 million to renew Iqamas of its employees. The company obviously lacking funds failed to renew Iqamas of its several hundred employees who eventually became illegal. On top of that the company did not give the passports to its staff, who also did not receive salaries for several months. Similarly in Jubail a contracting company brought 27 employees from India and Bangladesh and without Iqama and work permit put them to work on site. When these employees protested for their salaries and filed a case against their company, the court immediately gave the verdict in favor of the employees. But unfortunately the verdict was never executed. These employees suffered all these time and now today are standing in long queues as illegals. The fact of the matter is that they are not illegal but victim of some very illegal practices. The tragedy is that the workers will go eventually in a very undignified way whereas real culprits — their sponsors are untouched and unscathed. Meanwhile Dariya, the embassy official at the IISD counter clarified that the team will continue to attend Indian nationals seeking ECs five days a week — from Sunday until Thursday. “We will ensure that each and every application is cleared before we wind up our operation here,” he said
news
05-04-2017
Saudi non-oil private sector posts growth in 1Q of 2017
RIYADH — Saudi Arabia’s non-oil private sector remained entrenched in growth territory at the end of the first quarter of 2017, with sharp rates of expansion in new orders and output underpinning the overall upturn. As a result, companies raised input buying to the greatest extent in 18 months. Despite greater output requirements and increasing backlogs, companies raised their payroll numbers only marginally. Meanwhile, input price inflation climbed to a seven-month high. The survey, sponsored by Emirates NBD and produced by IHS Markit, contains original data collected from a monthly survey of business conditions in the Saudi private sector. Commenting on the Emirates NBD Saudi Arabia PMITM, Tim Fox, Head of Research and Chief Economist at Emirates NBD, said: “Saudi Arabia›s non-oil economy appears to be holding up well amidst ongoing reductions in oil production. Unlike previous periods of expansion however, gains in output and new orders are not being matched by new job growth, while competitive pressures appear to be keeping a lid on the prices firms are able to charge to customers.” The headline seasonally adjusted Emirates NBD Saudi Arabia Purchasing Managers’ Index (PMI) – a composite gauge designed to give a single-figure snapshot of operating conditions in the non-oil private sector economy – slipped from February’s 18-month high of 57.0 to 56.4 in March. Nevertheless, the latest reading was consistent with a marked improvement in the overall health of the sector. Moreover, the PMI average for the first quarter of 2017 (56.7) was the highest in one-and-a-half years. The above-50.0 reading for the headline index reflected steep increases in output and new work, though the respective rates of expansion eased since the preceding month. Anecdotal evidence indicated improvements in economic conditions, new projects, more construction work and increased marketing efforts. The rise in new business was mainly driven by domestic demand as growth of new export orders eased to the weakest in four months and was modest. Firms that reported higher levels of new work from abroad, commented on increased marketing efforts, good quality of products and internationally competitive prices offered. In response to greater output requirements, firms raised payroll numbers. However, the rate of job creation was only marginal. This in turn led to higher volumes of outstanding business. In fact, the rate of accumulation was marked as existing resources were insufficient to cope with greater workloads. Purchase prices rose at a solid pace in March, which firms attributed to greater demand for raw materials. However, businesses were restricted in their ability to fully pass on higher cost burdens to clients amid intense competition. Higher volumes of incoming new business prompted firms to raise their input buying. The pace of expansion accelerated to the strongest in one-and-a-half years. Concurrently, the rate of accumulation of input stocks quickened to a 19-month high. A number of firms commented on more projects and forecasts of further improvements in demand as the main factors leading to stock-building initiatives. Moreover, firms remained strongly optimistic toward output over the coming year due to projects in the pipeline, construction work and expectations of further improvements in market demand.
news
05-04-2017
Harsh penalties await violators post-amnesty
JEDDAH — The directorate general of passports has warned the violators of residency and labor violations who remain in the country after the 90-day general amnesty of harsh punishments. Saudi authorities announced the grace period as part of a campaign titled “Nation Without Violators”, which started a week ago giving a chance to illegal residents to leave the country without incurring any penalties. The punishment for the violators who may decide to stay in the country after the end of the amnesty period will include fines, imprisonment and deportation. They will be fingerprinted and will never be able to return to the Kingdom any time in the future, the passport directorate said in a statement. The immigration control has started receiving violators who are voluntarily leaving the Kingdom at all the air, sea and land exit points, the directorate said. According to a report published by local daily Al-Madina on Tuesday, the passport offices are providing the violators with quick services to complete their travel procedures. The passport directorate has made it clear that violators who avail themselves of the amnesty to depart will be exempted from the fines and will not be fingerprinted so that they will be able to return to the Kingdom legally if they wished. With the cooperation of the National Information Center in the Interior Ministry, the records of violators who do not leave the country within the amnesty period will be closed and they will be apprehended in a subsequent crackdown. Maj. Gen. Khaled Al-Huwaish, director of passports in Madinah, has said as many as 229 violators have completed travel procedures at the passport offices in the city. He explained that the exit procedures have two stages: verification of documents and entry of data into the computer system, following which an exit pass will be issued to the violator. Huwaish said the campaign was aimed at enabling the violators to leave the country on their own free will. “The violators include those who came for Haj, Umrah or visit and overstayed after the expiry of their visas, infiltrators across the borders and people who failed to get their residency permits renewed, runaway (huroub) cases and those who have not been issued with residency permits after arriving in the Kingdom on work visas,” Huwaish said. He said the Haj, Umrah and visit overstayers can leave through the exit points after officials making sure that there are no restrictions preventing them from leaving the country. Expats with expired residency permits, those who have been reported runaway workers and those who have not been issued their residency permits will have to visit the passport offices for checking their records and obtaining exit papers. Huwaish said all of the Kingdom’s air, sea and land exit points are operating round the clock to facilitate the departure of violators benefiting from the amnesty. A representative of the Egyptian Embassy told Al-Madina that some 350 nationals in Jeddah and Madinah have completed exit procedures in the past five days.
news
05-04-2017
Expats running from pillar to post to benefit from amnesty
Jeddah — Thousands of expatriate workers with expired resident IDs (iqamas) or those who have not been issued iqamas because their employers have been placed in the red category of the Saudization system or those whose sponsors have died are running from pillar to post to take advantage of the amnesty announced by the authorities. The Directorate General of Passports (Jawazat) says that such workers can leave the Kingdom under the amnesty, but first they must visit a Ministry of Labor and Social Development branch to update relevant information to enable the processing of exit visas. However, when these workers approached the Labor Ministry’s office in Jeddah, they were referred to the Jawazat. But the Jawazat sent them back to the labor office. The Labor Ministry spokesperson Khalid Aba Al-Khail did not respond to requests for comment. According to sources, officials are planning to hold sponsors accountable for such lapses and are working to collect data about them to impose penalties. The hardest hit are construction workers whose iqamas have expired and their employers are in the red category of the Nitaqat Saudization system. The Indian consulate in Jeddah is working with local Saudi authorities to address such issues, according to Md. Noor Rahman Sheikh, Indian Consul General. “Several of our nationals in such categories have approached us. The Indian consulate has taken up the issue with Jawazat and Labor Ministry officials,” he said, adding that ministry officials gave assurance that there would be proper mechanism in place from next week to receive applicants from such categories. Sheikh also said that expatriates who performed Haj without permit are also not able to seek online appointment to visit Jawazat offices to process their exit visa papers.
news
05-04-2017
Over a million housemaid visas issued last year
DAMMAM — As many as 1,089,342 housemaid recruitment visas were issued through the Musaned electronic portal in 2016, the Ministry of Labor and Social Development has announced. It said that 61,411 workers, including 40,750 who have registered their data in the system, benefited from e-services offered by the portal. The ministry established Musaned in 2014 to issue recruitment visas electronically and enlighten all beneficiaries about their rights and duties. More than nine million people have visited the site since it became operational. The system contains all required documents including recruitment application forms as well as those for salary, exit-reentry, iqama (resident ID) and driving license. Hussain Al-Mutairi, chairman of the recruitment committee of the Eastern Province Chamber of Commerce and Industry, described the program as “excellent.” “Citizens can process recruitment contracts without visiting any service office,” he said. “The subscription in the program is free of charge for citizens and recruitment offices,” he added. Mutairi said the ministry has made it obligatory on all licensed recruitment offices to register in the program. Former deputy chairman of the committee Ibrahim Al-Sanie said the ministry has introduced the program to be a reliable platform which displays recruitment fees, nationalities which can be hired and the time limit for recruitment. “Under the program, recruitment visas are issued electronically,” he said. According to the ministry, there are 605 licensed recruitment offices in the Kingdom employing more than 600,000 Saudis.
news
04-04-2017
Escorts cannot travel without the passport holder
JEDDAH: The Passports Department said that individuals included as escorts on one passport will not be able to travel without the passport’s holder. The agency also said in a statement that it is not possible to add escorts in Saudi passports when issued or renewed. Passports Department spokesman Col. Muhammad bin Abdul Aziz Al-Saad said it is necessary to issue a passport for each individual as it is in the interest of the traveler. Problems can occur when several people hold one passport. If it is lost abroad, all family members will be delayed. Many countries do not issue visas unless each of the visa applicants has a passport of their own. The department’s awareness campaigns are aimed at preserving citizens’ rights and easing travel procedures, calling on citizens intending to travel abroad to make sure of the validity of their passports and to know how much time there is left before it expires
news
20-03-2017
5,480 expats held for flouting labor laws
RIYADH: In a relentless campaign against those violating labor laws, the Ministry of Labor disclosed here on Tuesday that it has booked 5,480 illegal workers following 18,377 field inspections in the private sector. The crackdown has been conducted in various regions of the Kingdom since the beginning of the Islamic calendar nearly two months ago. The ministry said the field visits cover government agencies in all regions as required by regulations. Expats should practice their profession as per the residence permit and work only with the firms that recruited them. The Labor Ministry has zero tolerance for those violating the law. “The ministry will proceed to check all irregularities as committees have been formed to follow up and coordinate with the relevant authorities,” the ministry observed.5,480 expats held for flouting labor laws ABDUL HANNAN TAGO | Published — Wednesday 9 December 2015 RIYADH: In a relentless campaign against those violating labor laws, the Ministry of Labor disclosed here on Tuesday that it has booked 5,480 illegal workers following 18,377 field inspections in the private sector. The crackdown has been conducted in various regions of the Kingdom since the beginning of the Islamic calendar nearly two months ago. The ministry said the field visits cover government agencies in all regions as required by regulations. Expats should practice their profession as per the residence permit and work only with the firms that recruited them. The Labor Ministry has zero tolerance for those violating the law. “The ministry will proceed to check all irregularities as committees have been formed to follow up and coordinate with the relevant authorities,” the ministry observed.
news
20-03-2017
90-day amnesty granted to residency, labor violaters in Saudi Arabia
JEDDAH: The Interior Ministry on Sunday launched a “A Nation Without Violations” campaign to give residency and labor law violators 90 days to leave the country without penalties. Prince Mohammed bin Naif, crown prince, deputy prime minister and minister of interior, urged violators to take advantage of the 90-day grace period, which becomes effective March 29, to correct their status and make use of the assistance provided. The crown prince directed authorities to facilitate the procedures of people who seek to leave the country within the specified period and relieve them from all sanctions. Interior Ministry spokesman Maj. Gen. Mansour Al-Turki said that 19 government agencies will carry out the campaign. He said the decision covers those who overstayed their Haj or Umrah visit, or any other type of visa. He said procedures will be finalized for violators with no residence or work permits who infiltrated the borders illegally. Travel permits will be issued for those individuals. The General Directorate of Passports and the Immigration Department completed preparations to facilitate the departure of violators. Al-Turki said residents with no identity cards or who overstayed their Haj visa must visit the nearest Passport department to complete the procedures. He also urged citizens and residents not to employ individuals who violated their work or residency permits, or cover up for them. He urged people to report violators by calling 999. Once the grace period passes, penalties will levied against violators who remain. Al-Turki said the same campaign was launched three years ago with more than 2.5 million violators departing under the program. Marine Col. Saher Al-Harbi, spokesman of the Border Guard, said his department had returned thousands of illegal infiltrators who arrived via land and seaports
news
09-03-2017
Expats help tribals with umbrella project
As the rainy season in the UAE comes to an end, Kerala is just gearing up for its next monsoon. A group of UAE-based expatriates are lending a helping hand to unemployed tribal mothers in the state by promoting a brand of handmade umbrellas made by these women. While leading umbrella brands engage in marathon campaigns to capture their share of the 10 million umbrellas sold every year in the state, the group of socially concerned expatriates have come together to help women of Attappadi - the largest tribal pocket in Kerala - to make a living by producing their own brand, Karthumbi. Peace Collective, a group of Non-Resident Keralites, has helped the pilot project in order to provide employment to the to 50 tribal women. The Kochi-based voluntary organisation Thampu, Peace Collective and Karthumbi, a welfare organisation for tribal children, are coming together with the umrella project to provide employment to tribal mothers of Attappadi, a tribal pocket in Kerala's Palghat district. Attappadi is one of the largest tribal settlements in the state. Last year, about 1000 umbrellas were made and sold profitably with the help of loans raised from expatriates. This year, the ambitious plan is for 50,000 umbrellas made by unemployed tribal mothers. "Last year, our FB group members gave a loan of Rs 1,00,000 (Dh 5,500) to the Umbrella Project under Thampu, active in Attappadi. About 1,000 pieces of handmade umbrellas were made and sold in 2016. We have selected 50 unemployed tribal mothers in Attappadi, who lost their jobs after the central government stopped the self-employment scheme," said Rajendra Prasad, who is pioneering the project. "We are getting support from expatriate Keralites for the small-scale project. The tribal mothers can make good umbrellas that can compete with the big brands. It will be available for Rs 350 through direct marketing and online sales, a difference of 150-200 rupees per umbrella compared to big brands. We are giving jobs daily to 50 tribal mothers who work eight hours to make eight to ten umbrellas per day in their own homes," said Dubai-based Chinthu Ratna Ravindran, coordinator of the Peace Collective FB group. The new batch of umbrellas are expected to be ready for sales by May this year. "Peace Collective's online group in Dubai have supported the tribal mothers of Attappadi and we are trying to get some more loans from the expatriate supporters to make 50,000 umbrellas this year. "Whatever money was lent to the women last year was returned after the umbrellas were profitably sold. This year, the plan is to expand the umbrella making and in the process, each tribal mother will get Rs500 per day by making 10 umbrellas. For each umbrella, they get Rs 50 as wages," said Prasad, who is in Dubai to meet the online mentors. "Our dream is to reach the 50,000 umbrellas goal this air and give financial support to the women," he said. The Peace Collective group on Facebook - with members from India, USA and the UAE - was originally a small Google Plus group among friends. "Fifty members have contributed some capital for the umbrella unit. This year, the government of Kerala has given a Rs1.6 million loan for the project and the remaining amount will be raised through small scale loans from the expatriate community; each member is trying to get Dh500 and will be returned by October after selling the umbrellas," said Ravindran, a medical professional based in Abu Dhabi. "Last year, we spent Rs100,000 and the money was returned to the lenders in October. We also plan to help them make soaps and detergents. Selling 30,000 umbrellas through direct marketing will not be a big problem in a state where Rs150 crore is spend every year for buying umbrellas." The umbrellas are being sold through direct marketing in Kerala colleges and schools; Rs 100 coupons are sold directly to the students and in-state government department hostels which provide free umbrellas.
news
04-03-2017
Jeddah to put up check-in hall outside King Abdulaziz Airport
JEDDAH: Prince Khalid Al-Faisal, adviser to King Salman and governor of Makkah region, has instructed that a luggage delivery and travel procedures service center be established in Jeddah. The center, to be built in collaboration with the Integration Development Center, will be completed in five months. Saudi Arabian Airlines will use the facility. Its location in the Al-Rawdah neighborhood, on Prince Saud Al-Faisal Street, will make it easier for the residents and visitors to navigate the city. Pilgrims traveling through King Abdulaziz International Airport will find the service especially beneficial. The command came after meetings held by Saudi Arabian Airlines and the Integration Development Center, in which they discussed the possibility of establishing a project similar to the center in Riyadh. Mohammed Al-Qahtani, legal adviser and assistant director of the Integration Development Center in Makkah, said that Saudi Arabian Airlines has already signed an agreement with a contractor to construct the building on a 2,000-square-meter area. “Passengers, whether visitors or pilgrims, will be able … to process the luggage delivery and travel procedures much faster, and that will ease the burden on both airports and passengers, especially at peak times,” said Al-Qahtani. The center will be established just as Jeddah’s new airport is about to be completed, which will bring in larger numbers of passengers. Nearly 31 million passengers passed through Jeddah’s King Abdulaziz International Airport last year, an increase of almost 1 million over 2015.
news
03-03-2017
Foreign remittances from Saudi Arabia decline by almost 7% in January
RIYADH: Monthly foreign remittances have declined by 6.7 percent, down SR907 million from SR13.52 billion in December 2016, reaching SR12.61 billion in January. According to an Al-Eqtisadiya report, despite having declined, January remittances remain high compared to the SR11.75 billion average remittances over the previous 12 months. The report showed that annual foreign remittances in January increased overall by 4.86 percent over January 2016. Remittances were the highest on record in June 2015, when SR15.8 billion were transferred abroad, a positive difference of 20.3 percent or SR3.22 billion higher than the figure of January 2017. In July 2015, remittances reached the lowest point since February 2013, with only SR10.3 billon sent abroad. In 2016, a total of SR151.9 billion were transferred by foreign workers to their home countries, compared to SR156.9 billion the previous year, which represented a 3 percent decline of around SR5 billion, constituting the first annual decline after a consecutive 11-year growth trend (between 2005 and 2015). As for transfers made by Saudi citizens abroad, in January, the report shows a 13.4 percent growth in January, when it reached SR4.95 billion, compared to SR4.37 billion in December 2016. Transfers in January were the highest since October 2016, when a total of SR5.36 billion was transferred abroad by Saudi nationals. This represents a consecutive three-month increase in transfers abroad. On an annual basis, however, transfers declined this January by around 8.5 percent from January 2016, when transfers amounted to SR5.41 billion
news
02-03-2017
EU court refuses case challenging Turkey migrant deal
LUXEMBOURG: The EU’s top court refused to hear a challenge by three asylum seekers to the bloc’s deal with Turkey to stem the flow of migrants, saying it lacked the jurisdiction to hear the case. The three men — an Afghan and two Pakistanis — had contested the validity of the March 2016 accord in a bid to avoid being sent back to Turkey from Greece. The case, filed last April, argued the agreement was made between the European Council and Ankara, which violated the bloc’s rules on sealing international agreements. But the European Court of Justice on Tuesday ruled that the deal was made by leaders of European member states, which meant the court could not hear the case. “The court does not have jurisdiction to rule on the lawfulness of an international agreement concluded by the member states,” it said. Under the controversial deal, Ankara pledged to take back all illegal migrants landing in Greece in exchange for financial aid and eased EU visa rules for Turkish citizens.
news
28-02-2017
SPONSORSHIP TRANSFERHow to Transfer Sponsorship (Naqal Kafala) without Kafeel Approval
It was very difficult to Transfer Sponsorship without the approval of Kafeel. Sponsorship which is also called as Naqal Kafala was a just like a dream for all the expatriates living in Saudi Arabia. How to Transfer Sponsorship (Naqal Kafala) without Kafeel Approval SaudiExpatriate.com Here are few conditions In order to transfer Sponsorship without Kafeel Approval 1) Nitaqat Category – If the current Kafeel Nitaqat is in Yellow or Red Category then Iqama can be transferred without any issues even without even going to the Labor court in Saudi Arabia 2) Iqama Not Issued – If your Sponsor (Kafeel) doesn’t provide Iqama to the employee even after arriving in Kingdom of Saudi Arabia and if your Visa had expired, then probably you can transfer Sponsorship (Naqal Kafala) without the consent of your Kafeel. But for doing this, you’ll have to contact Labor Office in Saudi Arabia 3) Kafeel Iqama Nitaqat Category is in Red or Yellow color. You can contact Labor Office in Saudi Arabia to Transfer Sponsorship (Naqal Kafala) without Kafeel Approval. 4) If your Sponsor or Kafeel didn’t renew your Iqama and your Iqama has expired. After one month of expiring of Iqama. You can reach Labor Office to Transfer your Sponsorship (Naqal Kafala) without Kafeel Approval 5) If your Employer has not paid Salary for 3 months and as per the new law. You can join any other Company without getting an approval of current Sponsor or Kafeel 6) If the Employees of a Company which fail to implement Labor Ministry Wage protection law would be allowed to transfer it services to other companies, without any consent of previous employer. You’ll be unable to transfer Sponsorship in the following conditions: 1) Expired Passport 2) Invalid visa 3) If your Kafeel or Sponsor has any traffic Violation 4) If Ministry of labor disapproves transferring your Sponsorship 5) If you’re under Huroob or runaway status 6) If you have insufficient Funds to transfer sponsorship
news
28-02-2017
End of Service Benefits in Kingdom of Saudi Arabia (KSA)
End of Service Benefits in Saudi means that any employee or worker who is working in Kingdom of Saudi Arabia (KSA) get some cash after ending their service and will be entitled for End of Service benefits as per Saudi Labor Law. If an employee is working for a company and when he resigns or gets terminated he will get his full and final settlement from his Company which is known as End of service benefits. End of Service (EOS) benefits all depends on the time period an employee works in a company and based on that he will be awarded cash benefits towards ending his services from the company. End of Service Benefits in Kingdom of Saudi Arabia (KSA)-SaudiExpatriate.com Employees leave the company in two situations, either they will resign or will get terminated from the company. EOS benefits will applicable in both the sitaution as follows: IN CASE OF RESIGNATION: Scenario 1: If an employee resigns in less than 2 years of work then he will not be entitled for End of Service (EOS) benefits. To get these benefits he should have to complete minimum 2 years of employment. Scenario 2: If an employees stays and works in the company for more than 2 years and less than 5 years. He will be entitles to get 1/3rd of his EOS benefits. EOS Benefits will be half of his Salary in this case. READ Hundreds of Telecom Shops close due to Saudization Scenario 3: If an Employee complete 5 years in a company then he will be entitled to get 2/3rd of his End of Service Benefits along with Full Salary % Scenario 4: If an Employee complete his 1o years of service and then resigns, he will be entitled for Full End of Service Benefits Awards with % of Full Salary CALCULATE YOUR END OF SERVICE BENEFITS NOW! IN CASE OF TERMINATION: Scenario 1: If an Employee gets terminated by his employer or company before 5 years of his service then he will be entitles for Half Salary Scenario 2: If an Employee get termianted after completion of 5 years, then he will be entitled for Full Salary
news
27-02-2017
STRANDED SERBIAN WORKERS DEPORTED FROM KUWAIT FOR COMPLAINING
Last month, eight Serbian construction workers headed from a worksite in Ardiya to the Serbian embassy in Bayan on the first leg of a long journey home. They had arrived in Kuwait a couple of months earlier to work on University City – Shadadiya campus, and have received no wages. All they want now is to get their wages and return home. They say that many other Serbians have gone months without pay but are too afraid to complain. Their fears are justified, as shortly after the group of eight attempted to file a complaint, they were immediately terminated and deported to Serbia, without their due wages. They reached out to Migrant-Rights.org to publish their story, after a local rights group could not get the interest of local media. A few of the documents workers shared with Migrant-Rights.org Migrant-Rights.org reviewed the workers’ contracts and personal documents: their contracts were signed with a Serbian company and listed no Kuwaiti employer or partner. Despite receiving visas and entering the country legally, they had no Kuwaiti contracts. Without a named Kuwaiti employer, the embassy was uncertain how to intervene. After some research, they discovered that the Serbian company is partnered with al-Hani Construction & Trading Company, one of Kuwait’s major construction companies. This company leads mega-projects including al-Shahid Park and the Jaber al-Ahmed Bridge. The workers entered Kuwait with an article-14 visa, a short-term or temporary work visa. Their sponsor is legally the Amiri Diwan itself, though the University City belongs to the Ministry of Education, and is not the Diwan's project. It turns out that al-Hani construction used its other construction projects with the Diwan to sponsor these workers on a short visa, but is using them to work on the university project. There are at least 186,000 construction workers in Kuwait, not accounting for those undocumented or under “free visa.” Kuwait has spent over 3.5 billion dollars on the University City project so far. Many parliament members have accused the government of corruption, citing overspent budgets and delays in the project, as well as apparent negligence; at least four large fires have occurred on the University City project since 2013, and lax safety standards led to the 2014 death of two Egyptian workers in a landslide (and the subsequent resignation of Kuwait’s Education Minister in 2014.) In January 2015, yet another Egyptian worker died in the same way. Despite the falling oil prices and proclaimed austerity measures, Gulf countries continue to pursue mega-construction projects that rely on cheap, easily replaceable, exploited labour. Over the last several years, recruitment has expanded to new countries in an effort to bypass pressure to improve protections for workers from existing origin countries. The construction industry is among the most hostile to workers; in Qatar and Saudi Arabia, official deaths on construction sites run only in the single digits, but hundreds of construction workers have died because of substandard working and living conditions; cardiac arrests induced by working in excessive heat and long working hours, and cramped, unhygienic living conditions and poor health care access put workers' lives at constant risk. Workers who dare to protest for their wages are often punished and deported; in 2014, workers who attempted to strike in the UAE were arrested, tortured, and deported. In Saudi Arabia, several workers protesting against unpaid wages were sentenced to jail time and flogging, while their employers remain unpunished. They were among the tens of thousands of workers stranded last year without work, food, electricity, or medical care. The industry’s bar has been low in regards to safety and fair compensation, but now even compensation appears to be almost too much to expect.
news
23-02-2017
UAE, Saudi can create historic opportunities for the whole region: UAE Vice President
Combining the capabilities of the United Arab Emirates and the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia can create historic opportunities for their people and the whole region, said Vice President and Prime Minister and Ruler of Dubai, His Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, at a joint retreat held on Saadiyat Island today by some 150 Emirati and Saudi officials to discuss the best ways to advance relations between the two countries to what he described as a new and exceptional level. Called al-Azm, or determination in Arabic, the retreat seeks to turn agreements and understandings into tangible field projects that will benefit the people of the two countries and achieve a new level of exceptional relations between the UAE and Saudi Arabia, noted Sheikh Mohammed. The retreat was held following directives from President of the UAE His Highness Sheikh Khalifa bin Zayed Al Nahyan, and Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques, King Salman bin Abdulaziz Al Saud of Saudi Arabia, to enhance historic relations between the two countries and draw a roadmap to develop them in the long term. Sheikh Mansour bin Zayed and Prince Mohammed bin Salman, Saudi Deputy Crown Prince and Chairman of the Council for Economic and Development Affairs, co-chaired the retreat, held as one in a series of joint meetings aimed at intensifying co-operation and consultations in several spheres. Sheikh Hamdan bin Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Crown Prince of Dubai, Emirati and Saudi ministers and senior officials took part in the retreat. "Through our integration, solidarity and unity, we can protect our gains, enhance our economies and build a better future for our people. I am optimistic about the young leaders responsible for the quest for integration between the two countries, namely Deputy Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, and Sheikh Mansour bin Zayed Al Nahyan," Sheikh Mohammed said. "Chairing the Emirati delegation is the best guarantee for the success of this quest. We have great confidence in his ability to lead this historic progress between the two countries," he added. Sheikh Mansour described the Emirati-Saudi relations as "strong, but the leadership wants them to be exceptional and exemplary and moving towards a new, different and integrational level." "His Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid and His Highness Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi and Deputy Supreme Commander of the UAE Armed Forces, are closely following up on all the steps of co-operation between the two countries and have directed the speeding up of this blessed quest," he said. "We are the largest two Arab economies, have the most modern forces in terms of arms, form one social fabric and have leaders who want co-operation to go further, and people who want further integration." The combined gross domestic product of the UAE and Saudi Arabia stands at US$1 trillion, the largest such in the Middle East, with $713 billion in exports, the fourth largest globally. Trade between the two countries amounted to Dh84 billion, Sheikh Mansour noted. The UAE investments in the Kingdom amounted to Dh15 billion, he said. "The aim of the al-Azm retreat is to discuss all potentialities and opportunities that we can build together in all sectors. At the retreat, we will discuss the 10 pillars of integration. All the projects and initiatives will be announced in Saudi capital Riyadh in the coming period," Sheikh Mansour added, while stressing that exceptional relations between the two countries were a source of support for the Gulf Cooperation Council, now witnessing fast-paced progress under the leadership of King Salman.
news
20-02-2017
Domestic workers can transfer sponsorship under 13 circumstances
RIYADH – Minister of Labor and Social Development Ali Al-Ghafis approved the transfer of services of domestic workers and their dependents from one employer to another under 13 circumstances. The new measure is aimed at regulating the employment market and providing opportunities for household workers, including drivers and maid servants, as well as their dependents to find jobs in the event of certain situations for which they are not responsible, Saudi Press Agency reported on Sunday quoting the ministry sources. These include delay on the part of the employer in the payment of wages for three months, failure to receive domestic help upon their arrival in the Kingdom, failure to take them from shelters within 15 days after their arrival in the Kingdom, delay of more than 30 days in the issuance or renewal of residency permit (iqama), renting out the service of the domestic worker to another employer without the knowledge of the worker, assigning the domestic help to work with those other than their close relatives, and assigning the worker to do jobs that pose danger to his/her health or safety. According to the minister’s directive, a domestic worker’s service can also be transferred to another employer in the event of mistreatment of the worker by the employer or his family members. Other situations include false complaint about running away of a worker, failure to attend two sittings to examine the complaint filed by the worker, and disappearance of the employer either because of his travel, imprisonment, death or any other reasons resulting in the failure of salary disbursement for three months in a row. The minister can take a decision on transfer of service in other individual or common cases. Al-Ghafis has also instructed that the new employer can hire a worker on probation for a period of not more than 15 days before starting the process of hiring but the worker has to be paid the wages for this period. The new employer has to pay the fee for transfer of services in addition to the expense for hosting the worker at the shelter home, with SR150 for each day, the ministry said.
news
18-02-2017
Body stuck at Sharjah hospital due to non-clearance of bills
Marilyn Stanislaus, an Indian mother of three daughters, is running from pillar to post to get her husband's body released from a hospital in Sharjah. The husband, Dominic, passed away on January 18 at the hospital. While the rest of the Indian community is in a festive mood for the Indian Republic Day, this woman and her three daughters, two of them studying at school, have only one need - to get Dominic's body released so they can cremate him at St Michael's church, Sharjah. Speaking to Khaleej Times, Marilyn said she has been passing through the worst period in her two decades of life in the UAE. Her husband went into depression and fell ill after he lost his well-paying job as an oil field supervisor at a Dubai company. "For the past one week I have been trying to get his body released from the hospital." Marilyn, has to pay a minimum of Dh30,000 to achieve this. Though the total bill came to Dh100,000, it was brought down to Dh50,000 since Dominic's health card was still valid. Dominic fell ill on December 26 and was rushed to the hospital where he underwent treatment for jaundice, liver failure and pneumonia. He was admitted at the intensive care unit for a week for which the charges were Dh3,500 per day. The body is in the hospital morgue, while the desperate family is knocking on the doors of family, friends, relatives and charities for help. "It was very kind of Kuwait Hospital to admit him and give him treatment without a valid Emirates ID. After he lost his job in February 2015, Dominic could not renew his visa. Though he appeared for many interviews, he could not get a job. He used to earn Dh14,000 per month," said Marilyn. The family was on his sponsorship and ever since he lost his job, the children's visas have also not been renewed. Marilyn, however, is now under a media city visa. "As we exhausted all our savings due to the job loss and children's education, I do not have the money to pay the bills. He has two personal loans as well but I hope submitting his death certificate to the banks will solve that problem. I don't have resources to take his body to Bombay, India, and we are planning a local cremation," said Marilyn She has approached several charity organisations and community associations for help. "I need to organise my life now," said Marilyn. "Two of my daughters study in grade 6 and their fee has not been paid for the past one year. Their visas also need to be renewed. But my immediate concern is to get his body released andto complete all procedures. What the hospital says Sources in Kuwait Hospital have confirmed the death of Dominic, but details of pending payment have not been revealed. Sources handling charity cases at the hospital said in case a patient dies and the family does not have money to pay the bill, a request letter for financial support is to be submitted to one of the three charity bodies present at the hospital.
news
15-02-2017
Ministry’s decision will harm Saudization, fear businessmen
JEDDAH — Businessmen said the Ministry of Labor and Social Development’s decision to prevent companies from firing a great number of Saudis will discourage the private sector from employing Saudis, Al-Madina reported. Jeddah Chamber of Commerce and Industry member Abdulaziz Al-Sirai said the Ministry of Labor and Social Development issued a decision to prevent private companies from firing a great number of Saudi staff in one go. “If a private company would like to fire a number of Saudi employees in one go, the company must firstly receive the approval of the ministry. The company must apply to the ministry with the notice of firing a number of Saudi employees 60 days prior to the date the employees are requested to leave the company,” said Al-Sirai. He also said the company should include in its notice its capital and financial status in addition to the reason for firing the Saudi employees. “The company is also required to include the names of the Saudi employees to be fired. The ministry also announced that it will penalize any company which violates the procedure. The ministry’s new decision will discourage private companies from employing Saudis in the first place as the process of dealing with Saudi employees seems more threatening than dealing with non-Saudi employees,” said Al-Sirai. He also said the ministry’s decision could, thus, negatively affect the move toward Saudization. “The ministry could have given rewards to private companies for employing Saudis instead of punishing them for firing Saudi employees. The ministry could have given support and rewards to companies which have not fired any Saudi employee for a year,” said Al-Sirai. He also said the ministry could have also decreased the required bonuses and additional allowances given to employees to lift the financial burden on the private companies. “The decision will also hinder the pace of growth for the private sector. Some employers may fire Saudi employees one by one instead of many at one go,” said Al-Sirai. Technology sector investor Rashid Bin Zoumah said the ministry could have been more encouraging to companies which are employing Saudis. “The ministry could have decreased the required daily work hours,” said Bin Zoumah. Jeddah Chamber of Commerce and Industry Food Products Committee Wasif Kabli said the Ministry of Labor and Social Development should regulate the labor market and stop illegal issuance of work visas. “The ministry’s decision to penalize companies for firing a large number of Saudis will discourage companies from employing Saudis and that will affect the Saudization policy negatively. The ministry could have put in place more encouraging and rewarding policies,” said Kabli.
news
15-02-2017
No iqamas as ministry’s system still down
JEDDAH — The Ministry of Labor and Social Development’s website has been out of service for the third consecutive week following a Shamoon 2 virus attack, Al-Madina daily reported on Monday. The renewal and issuing of residence permits (iqamas) have been suspended because the Labor Ministry’s system is linked with the Abshir and Muqeem websites run by the Ministry of Interior. Some of the residents who have not been able to have their iqamas issued or renewed are facing the specter of prison and deportation. Their employers face imprisonment for up to a year and a fine of SR25,000-SR100,000. Naif Al-Harbi, who is in charge of government relations at a contracting company, said they have been suffering for three weeks trying to renew their workers’ iqamas but to no avail. “We have at least 35 expatriate employees with expired iqamas. The company will have to pay a fine of up to SR100,0000 because it is employing workers with expired iqamas,” he said. Bassam Al-Yousef, who works as an expeditor, said he is facing a lot of difficulty in renewing iqamas. Al-Madina daily tried to contact the Labor Ministry’s spokesman Khaled Aba Al-Khail several times but he did not respond. The Communications and Information Technology Commission warned last month that Shamoon 2 might attack some important government websites and recommended all agencies to take maximum precautionary measures.
news
15-02-2017
Economists see 9 factors to create jobs, spur growth
JEDDAH – A number of economic experts have identified nine factors to drive unemployment rate down and stimulate the private sector to generate various job opportunities for young men and women. Giving support to small- and medium-scale enterprises in order to hire Saudis is one of these factors. Others include creating consortiums and alliances, eradicating tasattur practices, offering training programs to college students, requiring mega companies to train 20 percent of Saudi staff in them in order to fill senior and leading positions, establishing a unified government agency to provide various services to businesses, expanding business line of mega companies and venturing into new markets, providing job security to Saudis and exempting firms from the latest government decisions. The experts agree that these factors will reduce unemployment rate by five percent annually, Al-Madinah reported. Dr. Abdullah Al-Maghlouth, a member of the Saudi Economic Association, said the Ministry of Labor and Social Development’s statistics showed a 12.1 percent increase in the unemployment rate in the third quarter of 2016. “The private sector should be encouraged to create jobs as this is the only way to reduce unemployment rate and keep it at an average level,” he said. Dr. Salim Ba Ajaja, the chair of Economics School, Taif University, said one of the best solutions to this problem is to train college and technical institute graduates.
news
15-02-2017
Ministry to probe ad seeking to hire Indians only
Riyadh — The Ministry of Labor and Social Development said that it will open an investigation into an advertisement which asked only Indian nationals to apply for engineering jobs at a Saudi company. The advertisement — which reportedly offered jobs in several companies in a number of Gulf countries, including the Kingdom — has angered Saudis who claimed it to be discriminatory. The ministry said the ad is deemed unacceptable and that it will investigate the matter further. The ministry’s spokesperson Khaled Aba Al-Khail said on Twitter that anyone who posts such ads, which do not adhere to the ministry’s regulations, will be held accountable. “The ministry does not allow the use of such ads, and imposes sanctions on those who violate it. And the matter is currently being taken care of by the Saudi Ministry of Labor and Social Development.” Saudis took to social media to express resentment over the advertisement and commented that there are many qualified Saudis who are worthy of these posts. They also voiced surprise that the offered salaries ranged between $2,600 and $8,000. Twitter user @abngahtan tweeted: “The salary is shocking… an engineering job advertisement for Indians only in Saudi! And before that, only Jordanians, what a provocation.”
news
13-02-2017
Qatar approves draft law for domestic workers
DOHA, Qatar: Qatar has approved a draft law which would provide legal protection for tens of thousands of female domestic workers for the first time, according to state media. The law is expected to specify how many hours staff such as nannies, drivers and gardeners should work per week, how many days holiday they receive annually and how they are paid, reported the Qatar News Agency (QNA). Legislation has been agreed by the cabinet, said QNA in a statement posted on Wednesday. “The law applies to sponsors and domestic helpers, specifies their rights and duties and regulates the relationship between them,” it added. In a 2014 report, Amnesty International claimed there were some 84,000 women migrant domestic workers in Qatar, mostly from south and southeast Asia. It alleged that many “face severe exploitation, including forced labor and physical and sexual violence.” While the World Cup 2022 host — battered by international criticism of its human rights’ record — has announced several key reforms governing the rights of laborers who help build stadiums and infrastructure for football’s biggest tournament, domestic staff have not yet been protected by legislation. Initial response to the draft law was positive. Campaign group Migrant Rights said on social media that the reform was “very promising news.” It also called on Qatar to include domestic staff in the Wage Protection System, a measure introduced in 2015 to ensure the country’s vast migrant labor workforce receive their salaries on time. Amnesty’s deputy director of global issues, James Lynch, said it would be waiting to see the details of the proposed law. “The Qatari government has been promising a law on domestic workers for years. Good that it’s back on the table — the content will be key,” he tweeted
news
09-02-2017
New Labor Law clause irks Saudis
Jeddah — Many Saudis are calling for revoking Article 77 of the Labor Law which allows the private sector to terminate contracts at any time by providing compensation to sacked employees. Sheikh Abdullah Al-Asheikh, president of the Shoura Council, said at a meeting that 800 petitions have been filed with the Council raising concern about Article 77 of the Labor Law. According to Nihad Al-Jishi, deputy head of the human rights committee at the Shoura Council, the article has resulted in a number of arbitrary terminations, with many low-income employees being affected. She said that people will feel relieved if the article is repealed. Columnist Khalid Al-Sulaiman said the previous Labor Law protected Saudi employees. But the new article makes the employer-employee relationship productivity-based. He called for the withdrawal of the article until it is studied and revised. Samia Bukari, a Shoura member, suggested that the compensation amount should be increased and labor violations committees should be mandated to deal with such issues as was the case earlier. However, Ahmed Al-Harsani wrote in his column in Makkah newspaper that Article 77 brings back balance in the employer-employee relationship. He explained that if the employee is over protected it reduces his productivity. “The article has made it easy to dismiss an employee, but at the same time it has clearly specified his rights. Therefore, there is no need to contact labor committees,” Al-Harsani wrote. He, however, suggested that employers must be monitored to make sure that they pay compensation to employees.
news
08-02-2017
Is your employer threatening you with a ban? Read this
It is presumed that your employer is an entity registered with the Dubai Multi Commodities Centre (DMCC) and that your employment is subject to provisions of the Federal Law No 8 of 1980 on the Regulation of Labour Relations (the "Labour Law"). Pursuant to the first part of your question it may be noted that it is not mandatory for employers to issue a permanent confirmation certificate of employment at the end of probation period. The continuation of the employment relationship after the completion of the period of probation may be considered to be proof of successful completion of your probation period. It is further noted that you wish to leave your employment whereas your employer seeks to get a labour ban imposed on you and also seek damages from you. However, it is learnt that labour bans are usually not imposed at the DMCC. In respect of the reimbursement of amounts to your employer, it may be noted that you shall be only liable to compensate your employer for any prejudice suffered by the latter in the event you elect to leave the employment. The amount of such compensation is not supposed to exceed your 45 days' salary. This is in accordance with the provisions of Article 116 of the Labour Law which states - "Where a contract is revoked by the worker for reasons other than those specified in article (121), he shall be required to compensate the employer for any prejudice the latter sustains as a result: provided that the amount of compensation shall not exceed half the worker's remuneration for three months or the residual period of the contract whichever is shorter unless the contract contains a provision to the contrary." However, the aforementioned provision shall only be applicable if you are working under a limited period contract. A limited period contract is usually executed for a pre-defined period and the end date of the contract is specified in the contract itself. Also it may be noted that apart from the amount of compensation as stated above, you shall not be liable to pay for any other compensation to your employer. If, however, you are working under an unlimited period contract, it may be noted that you shall only be liable to serve a notice period of 30 days prior to the termination of your employment. This is in accordance with the provisions of Article 117 of the Labour Law which states 1. Either the employer or the worker may terminate an indefinite term contract for a valid reason at any time following its conclusion, by giving the other party a notice in writing at least 30 days prior to termination. 2. For the daily-paid workers, the notice period shall be as follows: > One week: if the worker has been employed for more than six months but less than one year. > Two weeks: if the worker has been employed for not less than one year. > One month: if the worker has been employed for not less than five years." Based on the foregoing provisions of the Labour Law you may try to prevail upon your employer in respect of your rights. Should you face any hardships or in the unfortunate event of a dispute you may consider to approach the competent forum at DMCC.
news
27-01-2017
SR2,000 fine for holding on to workers’ passports
RIYADH — The Ministry of Labor and Social Development has announced that it will penalize employers who hold back the passports of workers without their written consent, Makkah newspaper reported. Ministry of Labor and Social Development Khalid Abalkhail said the employer will be fined SR2,000 for every worker whose passport he is withholding. “The employer then has a month to rectify his status. The fine will double if the employer did not rectify the status in time,” said Abalkhail.
news
25-01-2017
Employee can claim compensation for dismissal 'without a good reason'
As the termination notice was served during her pregnancy, it may not be stated to a certainty if your wife may be eligible for receiving benefits generally associated with maternity, as the Employment Law is silent on this issue. Upon a broad reading of the legal provisions, it may be understood that usually a female employee is entitled to such benefits when the employee's pregnancy and the delivery occur during the period of service. However, the provisions are not very clear on whether an employee shall still be entitled to receive benefits even if the termination of employment occurred during pregnancy. Article 30 of the Employment Law is cited below for your reference - "A female worker shall be entitled to maternity leave with full pay for a period of 45 days, including the period preceding and the period following her confinement, on condition that she has been in her employer's service for a continuous period of not less than one year. If she has not completed the aforesaid period of service, she shall be entitled to maternity leave with half pay. On the expiry of her maternity leave, a female worker may be absent from her work without pay for a maximum period of 100 consecutive or non-consecutive days if such absence is due to an illness preventing her from resuming her work and if the illness is confirmed by a medical certificate issued by the medical service specified by the competent health authority or if the latter authority confirms that the illness was caused by the women's work or confinement. The leave provided for in the preceding two paragraphs, shall not be deducted from other periods of leave." KNOW THE LAW Where a worker is arbitrarily dismissed, the competent court may order the employer to pay him a compensation, to be assessed by the court with due regard to the nature of the work, the extent of damage sustained by the worker and his period of service, and after investigating the work circumstances. However, conferring of maternity benefits may also follow provisions of internal corporate policies, and it may be advisable for your wife to check on the necessary provisions/circulars/handbook which may have been issued by her employer for more clarity as such. It is further noted that, your wife's employer has offered to pay her gratuity and a month's salary, in furtherance of termination of her employment, the reason for which is stated as corporate restructuring. However, it may be noted that your wife may be entitled to claim compensation for arbitrary dismissal in addition to what is being offered by her employer. Arbitrary termination refer to situations where employment contracts are terminated without a good reason. In this regard, Articles 122 and 123 of the Employment Law are cited for your reference. Article 122: A worker's service shall be deemed to be arbitrarily terminated by his employer if the reason for termination is irrelevant to the work. More particularly, a termination shall be regarded as arbitrary if it is prompted by a formal complaint filed by the worker with the competent authorities or a legal action instituted against the employer that proved to be valid. Article 123: 1. Where a worker is arbitrarily dismissed, the competent court may order the employer to pay him a compensation, to be assessed by the court with due regard to the nature of the work, the extent of damage sustained by the worker and his period of service, and after investigating the work circumstances, provided that such compensation shall in no case exceed the worker's wage for three months, calculated on the basis of his last wage. In view of the foregoing, your wife may prevail upon her employer to pay her compensation for arbitrary termination of employment contract as well. Further, it is noted that the insurance coverage for your wife (as provided by her employer) shall be expiring this month. Since her visa is under your sponsorship, you shall be liable to obtain a medical insurance for your wife. This is in accordance with the rules prescribing mandatory insurance coverage vis-à-vis the provisions of Article 9 of Dubai Health Insurance Law No 11 of 2013 which reads as follows: The responsibility of prescription to health insurance shall be as follows: The government, as for nationals, shall be in accordance with the policy of health insurance and the controls determined by the authority pursuant to the resolutions issued in such concern. The employer, a
news
24-01-2017
Saudi Arabia warns over cyber attacks as labor ministry hit
Riyadh — Saudi Arabia warned organizations in the Kingdom on Monday to be on the alert for cyber attacks including a version of the destructive Shamoon virus, as a chemicals firm reported a network disruption and the Ministry of Labor and Social Development said it had been attacked. An alert from the telecoms authority advised all parties to be vigilant for attacks from the Shamoon 2 variant of the virus that in 2012 crippled of tens thousands of computers at oil giant Saudi Aramco. The labor ministry, meanwhile, said it had been hit by a cyber attack, but that it did not impact its data. It said that Human Resource Development Fund (Hadaf) had also been hit, but with little impact. Jubail-based Sadara Chemical Co, a joint venture firm owned by Saudi Aramco and U.S. company Dow Chemical, said it had experienced a network disruption on Monday morning and was working to resolve the issue. The company made the disclosure on its official Twitter account after the warning by Al Ekhbariya TV, which cited the telecoms authority. It did not say whether the disruption was due to a cyber attack but said as a precautionary measure it had stopped all services related to the network. Other companies in Jubail, the hub of the Saudi petrochemicals industry, also experienced network disruptions, according to sources.
news
21-01-2017
Unpaid workers go on strike at Clean Fuel Project’s site
KUWAIT: A number of contracted employees at the Clean Fuel Project’s site went on strike because of delayed payment of their salaries, according to their statements. Video footage went viral on social media showing expatriate workers staging a demonstration at a location in Ahmadi within the project’s construction site. Commenting on the issue, Acting Director of the Public Authority for Manpower Abdullah Al-Motoutah said that a decision was taken to suspend the workers’ employer until he pays the overdue payments. He further indicated that authority inspector rushed to the scene immediately after seeing the videos online in order to investigate the matter, adding that the employer was summoned there as well. Baseless allegations Separately, Kuwait National Petroleum Company’s (KNPC)s official spokesperson and deputy CEO for supplementary services Bassem Al-Essa stressed that recent social media reports about a complaint filed by one of the company’s employees is full of baseless allegations. Essa added that KNPC followed up the employee’s complaint in which he claimed that the company deducted from his salary for revealing a contractor’s violation of a contract signed with him to secure the company sites. “KNPC respects and appreciates all its employees, but the allegations mentioned on social media and in a TV interview are completely untrue,” Essa said, explaining that the deduction had not been made for disciplinary reasons but rather to recollect sums that the employee had unlawfully received due to inaccurate data. “The complainant was already met by deputy CEO for supplementary services on Dec 22, 2016, and we explained the reason of the deduction and told him to pay back in installments if he wishes to do so,” Essa added. Equal privileges During a meeting with Oil Minister Essam Al-Marzouq, the head of the Oil Ministry Employees Syndicate Adel Al-Hojob stressed the rights of ministry employee to get equal financial and administrative privileges and incentives as the ones given to those working in the oil sector. “The ministry directly supervises the units working in oil and gas and the state’s rights in them,” he explained, reminding that the Civil Service Commission (CSC) had stated that ministry employees could be treated equally as those working in the oil sector after amending article 3 of the service law number 15/1975. “Therefore, we urge the minister to work on amending our legal status,” he stressed. Hojob added that the syndicate rejects privatizing the oil sector because it would lead to many problems, especially since Kuwait mainly relies on oil as its source of national income.
news
12-01-2017
Indian consulate holds special function to celebrate Pravasi Divas
JEDDAH — The Consulate General of India, Jeddah, organized a function to celebrate the 14th Pravasi Bharatiya Divas (PBD) on the chancery premises on Monday. The two-hour long program started with Consul General Md. Noor Rahman Sheikh highlighting the importance of the PBD 2017. In his address, Sheikh summarized the three-day long PBD event at Bengaluru, its various sessions and spoke about new programs and schemes for pravasi Indians. About 200 pravasis and the consulate staff attended the event. About 50 pravasis from Jeddah had registered to attend this year’s. A pre-recorded speech Prime Minister Narendra Modi delivered at PBD in Bengaluru on Sunday was relayed to the audience. It was followed by screening of a documentary on 14th PBD produced by the Ministry of External Affairs. As announced by the prime minister, it was conveyed to the local pravasi community that the consulate will facilitate conversion of PIO cards to OCI cards until June 30, 2017, without penalty. The pravasis were also briefed about the consulate’s use of social media such as Twitter, opening of Indian Workers Resource Center (IWRC) on 24X7 basis, holding of open houses on every Sunday and Thursday from 10 a.m. to 12 noon and regular consular tours to outstation cities within the consular jurisdiction of the consulate. A lecture by Pawan Kumar Ponnada, head of operations, State Bank of India, Jeddah on “Demonetization Toward Digitalization” was arranged on the occasion. The presentation was very informative and well-received by the audience. The occasion was also utilized to honor select community members with appreciation certificates for their excellent services to the community.
news
11-01-2017
20% drop expected in housemaid recruitment cost
JEDDAH — The cost of recruiting housemaids is expected to go down by about 20 percent, local daily Al-Madina reported on Monday quoting a number of recruitment offices. The offices attributed the drop to agreements for hiring housemaids which the Ministry of Labor and Social Development will sign during the first quarter of this year with Somalia, Ethiopia, Guinea and Chad. They said citizens will have the option to recruit housemaids from more countries. Chairman of the recruitment committee at the Jeddah Chamber of Commerce and Industry (JCCI) Yahya Al-Maqbool also said the housemaid recruitment agreements to be signed with the four African countries are expected to bring down the cost of recruitment. He said the offices in a comprehensive meeting recently discussed all the measures being taken by the ministry to streamline the process of foreign manpower recruitment. Mohammed Al-Sulami and Adel Al-Jaber, owners of two recruitment offices, said the low and medium income citizens were badly affected by the high cost of recruitment. Meanwhile, Saudi Embassy in Manilla warned against dubious recruitment contracts. The embassy made it clear that recruitment could only be done through licensed offices in the Kingdom. “This will protect the rights of both the employer and the employee,” it said. The embassy said it will not be responsible for any breach of contracts or any delays in sending housemaids in case citizens deal directly with recruitment offices in the Philippines without liaising with Saudi offices.
news
10-01-2017
Indian expat helps UAE workers 'realise their dreams'
Teach them how to fish and where to fish, but do not feed them fish" is the philosophy of Smartlife, an organisation that works for the welfare of the workers in the UAE. A four-year-old institution, Smartlife runs about eight programmes every year based on education, vocational training and entertainment. Vinod Kumar Mehra, president and first teacher of Smartlife, believes every person has the right to gain knowledge. Originally from Delhi, India, with a background in technology and sales, he has completed almost two and a half decades in the UAE. He always had a dream to be a part of an initiative where he could help people upgrade their skills and Smartlife fulfilled all his dreams by giving him that golden opportunity. "I think knowledge can change lives and attitude in a great way. Through Smartlife, we are trying to give workers in the UAE space to improve. Our focus is not just to educate them but to work on their overall development by encouraging the talented among them. We donate our time and skills so that they can grow," answered Mehra when asked how Smartlife makes a difference in the lives of workers. "I am not doing it alone; we have a team of dedicated volunteers who lead programmes and projects. And I am glad that now most of the volunteers are from the workers' community." Smartlife, an NGO, works closely with blue collar workers with the aim of making them feel good. Smart success stories Saleem Badnatti, in-charge of one of the labour accommodations in Dubai and a volunteer for the Smart-Idol programme this year, recalls how he got associated with Smartlife. "I remember I saw a poster of the organisation in a grocery store four years ago. I called the contact number. It all started from there. Smartlife has made my life smart in the true sense. Today, I can speak English fluently and communicate with anyone with confidence. I used to work with a helper before and now I work with an engineer. I am blessed and fortunate, thanks to Smartlife." Another, inspiring story is that of Namayanja Diana, SmartIdol winner 2016. Just 26 years old, Diana is a bus conductor in a Dubai-based school. She got the platform to showcase her singing talent through SmartIdol. "With the winning amount I started a small business in my home country, Uganda. I got the chance to record a few songs after the competition as well. It goes without saying that the talent show played a pivotal role in taking my life to a different level. Smartlife gave life to my talent and I am just moving forward in life since then". Mehra is upbeat about the various programmes. "Every year, we try to design and introduce a new one. Last year, it was Smartreading in keeping with the Year of Reading 2016; this year, we have something interesting in the pipeline. I am sure it will help people rise above all barr-iers and make a mark for themselves in society. Hopefully, we will announce it soon," he said. Programmes that changed lives The group organises events every year on the basis of three important factors - compassion, skills and talent. A few popular Smartlife projects and programmes are: Compassion: > Smartdistrbution > SmartMedic > SmartSapna Skills: > Smartreading > Smartskills Talent: > Smartcup > SmartIdol
news
09-01-2017
Employees to be paid 150% of salary for working on holidays
It is also prescribed in the Employment Law that the daily hours of work are to be designed by the concerned employer in a manner that employees are not required to work for more than five hours at a stretch. The company is forcing me to work during public holidays without compensation. When I objected to it, the company threatened me with termination. I told the management that they can terminate me for not working on public holidays and I will seek assistance from the Ministry of Labour. To add to it, my working time is from 9am to 9pm. Although the actual timing is 9am to 1pm and 4pm to 9pm, as it is a shopping mall, I cannot take a break because I am alone at the shop and customers continue stepping in. I informed my management that I am not getting time even for my lunch and they assured me that I would be paid extra. However, that never happened and I was never paid for the overtime. Now, the management has asked me to hand over the shop inventories, cash and key of the shop to the company driver, which I refused and informed them that I would hand over all those to any company officials, not the driver. I need your advice. It is presumed that your employment is subject to the provisions of the Federal Law No 8 of 1980 on the Regulation of Labour Relations (the "Employment Law"). In respect of the national holidays, the Employment Law prescribes that the employees shall be entitled to get leave with full pay for the said holidays. And where, owing to circumstances of work, employees are required to work on such days, they shall be entitled to receive compensatory leave on some other day and also receive additional compensation. You shall therefore be entitled to get the compensatory leave and additional benefits as such. We cite Article 81 of the Employment Law for your reference. "Where the circumstances of the work make it necessary for a worker to work on public holidays or rest day in respect of which he is entitled to full or partial pay, he shall be granted compensatory leave in respect of such days, together with a bonus equal to 50 per cent of his remuneration. If he is not compensated for such days by leave, his employer shall pay him a bonus equal to 150 per cent of his basic remuneration in respect of the days worked." The Employment Law contains specific provisions whereby the daily period of work has been prescribed. The maximum working hours for employees normally working in general establishments shall be eight hours a day. And in case of establishments involved in trading, hospitality/hotels, cafeterias, security etc., the hours of work may be increased to nine hours a day. We cite Article 65 of the Employment Law for your reference in this regard. "The maximum number of ordinary working hours for adult workers shall be eight hours per day, or forty-eight hours per week. The number of hours may be increased to nine hours per day for people employed in trade, hotels, cafeterias, security and other jobs whose addition may be made by virtue of a decision from the Minister of Labour. Furthermore, the daily number of working hours may be reduced for strenuous or harmful works and such by virtue of a decision from the Minister of Labour and Social Affairs. The ordinary working hours shall be reduced by two hours during Ramadan. The commutation periods spent by the worker from the place of residence to the work site thereof shall not be calculated within the working hours." It is also prescribed in the Employment Law that the daily hours of work are to be designed by the concerned employer in a manner that employees are not required to work for more than five hours at a stretch and there are adequate breaks for rest, meals and prayer. This is in accordance with the provisions of the Article 66 of the Employment Law which reads as follows. "The daily working hours shall be so regulated that no worker shall work for more than five successive hours without breaks - for rest, meals and prayer - amounting in aggregate to not less than one hour. Such breaks shall not be included as part of the working hours. However, in factories and workshops where work is organised in the form of successive day and night shifts, and in processes where work has to continue uninterrupted for technical and economic reasons, the manner in which breaks for rest, meals and prayer are to be granted shall be specified in a resolution by the Minister." The Employment Law however prescribes, th
news
03-01-2017
Soon Emirates ID to be used for medical records
By 2021, all patients in the country will have single unified medical records which can be accessed by any doctor in the country through the Emirates Identity card. The unified records will serve as a healthcare database and will record details of the patient - from the kind of treatment being undertaken to the medicines consumed. However, patient confidentiality will be at the forefront. Besides reducing costs of unnecessary medical tests, the database will also cut down on medical errors, said Ali Juma Alajme, Director of IT Management at the Ministry of Health and Prevention (MoHP), who is heading the project. At a later stage, it will also be linked to insurance companies. Know your Emirates ID privileges and benefits in the UAE He said that the project will be implemented in several phases. "A study is being carried out with all the health entities in the country to develop this roadmap," he told Khaleej Times. "We are agreeing on a standard and moving to the unified platform," he added. The project is already well under way with the studies expected to be completed by the first quarter of this year. In 2018, all government hospitals will be part of the project and private hospitals/health clinics will be linked between 2019 and 2021, he said. Beat long queues at Dubai airport, use Emirates ID Alajme said that the project was part of the ministry's five-year strategy. "The same standards will be applicable across the board so the quality of data collected will be world class." The platform will also serve as a health database. "The data collected will help in decision-making and in addition will show a complete picture of the country's healthcare needs. For example, we will be able to know how many beds are there in total in all hospitals, the kind of diseases etc.," he added. Healthcare facilities will have to update their systems to be part of the project. The project has been modified to suit the UAE healthcare system after studies were carried out in Singapore and the USA, where similar models are already operating. "The UAE has developed its own model and IP after studying these countries," said Alajme. The Health Authority of Abu Dhabi (HAAD), the Dubai Health Authority (DHA), the Emirates Identity Authority (EIDA), Medical Services of the Armed Forces and Pure Health are part of the project. asmaalizain@khaleejtimes.com How the project will help deliver better healthcare Mubaraka Mubarak Ali Ibrahim, Director for Health Information Systems, said that the project will improve the quality of health care and patient safety. She stressed that the database can help in: > Assessing performance > Better automate the healthcare system > Ensure a smoother flow of digital information > Save previous medical history for the patient - creating a way to make better clinical decisions by providing the correct records and ensuring quick access to it.
news
31-12-2016
Dependents’ fees to be taken at the time of Iqama renewalDependents’ fees to be taken at the time of Iqama renewal
JEDDAH — The fees to be paid by expatriates for their dependents will be effective from July 2017 and will be collected along with the fees for Iqama (residence permit) renewal, according to sources at the department of passports (Jawazat). The sources, however, said the Jawazat is still waiting to receive instructions on the mechanism to collect the fees. They recalled that the “Financial Balance” document, which was released with the General Budget on Thursday has referred to monthly fees to be imposed on all establishments in which expatriates outnumber Saudis. Private sector establishments are currently paying SR2,000 annually for every expatriate worker. Now companies will have to pay extra fees for expats who outnumber Saudis and also for those expats who are in equal number to the nationals.But expats will have to pay SR100 from next July per dependent per month. In January 2018, companies where expats outnumber Saudis will have to pay SR400 every month for each expat worker and SR300 for each expat worker in companies where expats are in equal number to the nationals. The monthly fees on expats for each of their dependents will be raised to SR200. The fees on expats outnumbering the Saudis will be increased to SR600 per month from January 2019 while those of equal number will be increased to SR500. The fees on dependents will be increased to SR300 per dependent per month. At the start of 2020, the fees for expatriates outnumbering Saudis will be increased to SR800 monthly and to SR700 for expatriates who are in equal number to Saudi workers in a company. The monthly fees on the dependents will be raised to SR400 per head from mid 2020. Labor market sources believe that regardless of the fees to be imposed on expatriates during the coming three years, the Saudi labor laws remain to be one of the most liberal in the entire world.
news
30-12-2016
Ministry of Interior launches domestic helpers insurance policy
As part of its efforts to develop innovative solutions, the Ministry of Interior launched an insurance policy that guarantees the rights of the insurer in relation to the domestic helpers. The policy involves a strategic partnership with the private sector. This move, in line with UAE President His Highness Sheikh Khalifa bin Zayed Al Nahyan’s declaration of 2017 as the Year of Giving, is aimed at supporting individuals, as well as companies in the private sector, besides promoting a sense of social responsibility. The policy will help individuals to fulfil their responsibilities and commitments as sponsors of domestic helpers who have a residency visa, as per the applicable law, and a valid work permit, as sanctioned by the Ministry of Human Resources and Emiratisation. At a joint press conference held on Tuesday along with the strategic partner ‘AXA Green Crescent,’ Dr. Rashed Sultan Al Khedr, the official spokesman for Citizenship, Residence and Port Affairs, Ministry of Interior, reiterated the keenness of the police leadership to ensure satisfaction of all those who opt for it. He also pointed out that the AXA’s Domestic Helpers Protection Plan will be optional for Emirati and expatriate sponsors, and will help them in fulfilling their responsibilities and duties towards domestic workers in possession of a valid visa and work permit. Lt. Colonel Hamad Al Nuaimi, the Chairman of the Initiative Supervising Committee, said the focus was on offering a creative insurance plan involving an annual premium starting from AED 100. He said the ministry chose AXA Green Crescent as its strategic partner after diligent research to offer best services to the citizens and residents. The effort was part of the government’s commitment to ensure the satisfaction of individuals, families and the entire society. On his part, Dr. Abdel Kerim Al Zarouni, a board member of AXA Green Crescent, expressed the company’s gratefulness for having been chosen by the government as a strategic partner, and reiterated the company’s commitment to ensuring the success of this initiative by offering the best solutions and services for the people of the UAE. The Insurance Authority also backed the initiative, which would strengthen the organisational framework in line with the technical regulations governing the sector. It would provide a means of social protection for the community, particularly for the insurance policy holders, and would help make the local market and the UAE’s economy more competitive, the AI said. In a press release, it underlined its support of the initiative within the framework of organising the insurance sector in the UAE and inculcating a sense of social responsibility in the local community, apart from working with the governmental bodies for development partnerships and evolving mechanisms for cooperation.
news
29-12-2016
About a million expats without medical insurance
RIYADH — Close to a million expatriates do not have medical insurance, local daily Al-Watan reported on Tuesday quoting sources. It said that only 7.6 million out of 10.4 million expatriates living in the Kingdom have medical insurance cover. Of them, about 1.93 million are house helps, consisting of maids and drivers, who do not have medical insurance as they can be treated in government hospitals by showing their residence permits (iqamas). But more than 870,000 expat workers are not covered by any medical insurance. According to the demographic statistics, non-Saudis constitute about 33 percent of the Kingdom’s total population. The sources said that those who do not have medical insurance are violating residency and labor laws. Yasser Al-Maarik, spokesman of the Council of Cooperative Health Insurance (CCHI), said employers are obliged to provide medical insurance to their employees and their families. “No iqamas (residence permits) will be issued or renewed without medical insurance for employees and their dependents,” he said. Maarik said that CCHI often gets fake medical insurance documents for issuance or renewal of iqamas. According to a recent report by the Saudi Arabian Monetary Authority (SAMA), there are 26 medical insurance companies in the Kingdom and seven other companies under the CCHI which manage insurance claims. The report said that as many as 420,800 private companies and establishments provided medical insurance for their workers in 2015. It said the CCHI has accredited 2,569 health establishments — 2,556 private and 13 government ones — to provide treatment to the insured people.
news
26-12-2016
No tax on expat remittances Expat dependents’ fee to bring SR2.674bn to state coffers annually
Jeddah —There are no plans at present to impose any taxes on remittances by expat workers, Mohammed Al-Tuwaijri, secretary general of the Financial Committee at the Royal Court, was quoted as saying by Al-Madina Arabic daily on Saturday. The Shoura Council is discussing plans to impose a 2 to 6 percent tax on expat workers’ remittances. Former Shoura Council member Husam Al-Angari, who submitted the proposal, suggested a 6 percent tax in the first year of living in the Kingdom. He said the tax would then drop to 2 percent following five years of the expat’s residency in Saudi Arabia. Al Angari was quoted as saying that expats’ remittances had almost tripled since 2004, having increased from $15.1 billion(SR57 billion) to over $36 billion (SR135 billion) in 2013. The World Bank claims Saudi Arabia accounts for the second highest volume of remittances after the US, with $37 billion in 2015. The Kingdom first mooted a tax on expat remittances in June. At around the same time, the UAE was also reported to be considering the imposition of such a tax. Meanwhile, Minister of Finance Mohammed Al-Jadaan said that the details on the exemption of nationalities from expat dependents’ fees will be announced later. Social, political and security circumstances will be taken into consideration to decide on the nationalities to be exempted from such fees, he said in response to a question about the possibility to exempt Yemenis, Burmese and Syrians from the proposed expat dependents’ fees. There is a provision in the budget 2017 to levy fees on each dependent of an expat worker. The proposed expat dependents’ fee will bring SR2.674 billion to state coffers annually from the first year of its implementation, according to estimates. There are 11,660,998 expatriates and their dependents in the Kingdom, according to data. The number of expat dependents under 19 years of age in 2016 was 2,228,525. The monthly fees that will be collected for these dependents will be around SR222,852,500 per month. In the first year of its implementation in 2017, an expat worker will have to pay SR100 for each of his dependent every month. In 2018, the fee will increase to SR300-SR400 per dependent per month. This will rise annually to reach SR800 per month per dependent by 2020.
news
24-12-2016
Indian expats, applying for passport just got easier
The birth certificate would no longer be required to get a passport issued, the Ministry of External Affairs announced on Friday. Speaking to media here, Minister of State for External Affairs V.K. Singh said that birth certificate that specifies the date of birth is no longer mandatory for getting passport and documents such as PAN card, driving licence, Aadhaar card, or Matriculation Certificate will suffice. He also announced that online passport application form now requires the applicant to provide the name of only one parent and not both. This would enable single parents to apply for passports for their children. Besides, married applicants would not be required to provide any marriage certificate, the minister added. The government has announced new passport rules in order to streamline, liberalise and ease the process of issuing of passport, an official statement said. The ministry published the following statement: (Sourced from MEA website) 1.In order to streamline, liberalize and ease the process of issue of passport, the Ministry of External Affairs has taken a number of steps in the realm of passport policy which is expected to benefit the citizens of India applying for a passport. The details of these steps are given below: Proof of date of birth 2.As per the extant statutory provisions of the Passport Rules, 1980, all the applicants born on or after 26/01/1989, in order to get a passport, had to, hitherto, mandatorily submit the Birth Certificate as the proof of Date of Birth (DOB). It has now been decided that all applicants of passports can submit any one of the following documents as the proof of DOB while submitting the passport application: (i) Birth Certificate (BC) issued by the Registrar of Births & Deaths or the Municipal Corporation or any other prescribed authority whosoever has been empowered under the Registration of Birth & Deaths Act, 1969 to register the birth of a child born in India; (ii) Transfer/School leaving/Matriculation Certificate issued by the school last attended/recognized educational board containing the DOB of the applicant; (iii) PAN Card issued by the Income Tax Department with the DOB of applicant; (iv) Aadhar Card/E-Aadhar having the DOB of applicant; (v) Copy of the extract of the service record of the applicant (only in respect of Government servants) or the Pay Pension Order (in respect of retired Government Servants), duly attested/certified by the officer/in-charge of the Administration of the concerned Ministry/Department of the applicant, having his DOB; (vi) Driving licence issued by the Transport Department of concerned State Government, having the DOB of applicant; (vii) Election Photo Identity Card (EPIC) issued by the Election Commission of India having the DOB of applicant; (viii) Policy Bond issued by the Public Life Insurance Corporations/Companies having the DOB of the holder of the insurance policy. Report of the Inter Ministerial Committee 3.A three-member Committee comprising of the officials of the Ministry of External Affairs and the Ministry of Women and Child Development was constituted to examine various issues pertaining to passport applications where mother/child has insisted that the name of the father should not be mentioned in the passport and also relating to passport issues to children with single parent and to adopted children. The Report of the Committee has been accepted by the Minister of External Affairs. The following policy changes have been made inter-alia on the basis of the recommendations of this Committee: (i) The online passport application form now requires the applicant to provide the name of father or mother or legal guardian, i.e., only one parent and not both. This would enable single parents to apply for passports for their children and to also issue passports where the name of either the father or the mother is not required to be printed at the request of the applicant. (ii) The total number of Annexes prescribed in the Passport Rule, 1980, has been brought down to 9 from the present 15. Annexes A, C, D, E, J, and K have been removed and certain Annexes have been merged. (iii) All the annexes that are required to be given by the applicants would be in the form of a self declaration on a plain paper. No attestation/swearing by/before any Notary/Executive Magistrate/First Class Judicial Magistrate would be henceforth necessary. (iv) Married applicants would n
news
23-12-2016
No tax for citizens, expats Saudis to be divided into five categories for financial support Fees paid by companies to employ foreigners to be gradually hiked
Minister of Finance Mohammed Al-Jadaan said that there won’t be any tax on Saudi citizens or expatriates or any Saudi companies. Al-Jadaan also announced the launch of the 2020 fiscal balance program and the Citizen’s Account initiative. The minister was addressing a press conference in Riyadh on Wednesday along with Minister of Energy, Industry and Mineral Resources Khalid Al-Falih, Minister of Commerce and Investment Majed Al-Qassabi, Deputy Minister of Labor and Social Development Ahmad Al-Humidan and Deputy Minister of Economy and Planning Mohammed Al-Tuwaijri after the presentation of the national budget. A fixed amount will be deposited in the account every month and citizens can withdraw the money whenever they need it. Ahmad Al-Humaidan, deputy minister of labor and social development, said that the Uniform Citizen Account, aims at supporting citizens with low, middle, and above middle income categories so as to achieve economic balance and insulate them while implementing the Kingdom’s Vision 2030 and National Transformation Program. It will enable the nation to achieve qualitative leap and development at all levels and would help in diversifying national income through non-oil exports. Al-Humaidan said the account will be opened with a total amount of SR25 billion in 2017 and the amount is expected to reach SR60 billion by 2020. He urged citizens to hurry up to register with the account so as to take advantage of it. Saudi citizens will be divided into five categories based on their income, according to Al-Arabiya. The categories based on low and medium income will get financial support. The registration of citizens in unified account will begin early February and the distribution of monthly financial support will begin on June 1. Saudis whose income levels fall in the first and second categories will receive SR1,200 every month for a family of six persons. Those citizens whose income level falls in the third category will receive SR1,000 every month for a six-member family. Saudis whose income level falls in the fourth category will receive SR600 a month for a family of six members. But Saudis in the fifth category of income and to those with monthly income exceeding SR21,000 will not get any support. Saudi Arabia will gradually increase the monthly fees paid by companies to employ foreign workers, starting from 2018, Al-Jadaan told the press conference. The level of fees will depend on the proportion of foreigners in each company’s workforce, the minister added. He said that the state has disbursed more than SR100 billion in dues owed to the private sector, especially the contracting sector, over the last two months. “The government has fulfilled its promise made several months ago with regard to clearing the dues of the private sector. We have made payment of all the requests came to the Ministry of Finance from private sector firms and individuals before three weeks,” he said, adding that the remaining requests are now under the consideration of the ministry and the amounts will be disbursed within two months. Al-Jadaan said SR42 billion has been allocated for the National Transformation Program for this year and another SR172 billion for the coming three years. He said that budget 2017 aims to improve the level of performance in the public and private sectors to enhance transparency, which is the most important part of the budget. He also said that the government would not surprise the private sector with any new policy initiatives beyond those already announced on Thursday until 2020.
news
20-12-2016
King orders reinstatement of 200 government employees
JEDDAH: In a rare gesture, Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques King Salman has ordered the reinstatement of 200 employees who were dismissed in January 2013 from their jobs at the Ministry of Education. Minister of Civil Service Khaled Al-Araj thanked the king for the gesture. “I thank the Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques King Salman for his issuance of the royal order to exceptionally reinstate 200 citizens to their jobs at the Ministry of Education in positions commensurate with their qualifications,” the minister tweeted. The royal order approves the reappointment of all those who wish to return to work on vacant positions at the Ministry of Education, at ranks corresponding to their educational qualifications as per the civil service employee ranking system. Alternatively, the order calls for modifying or reducing a number of jobs for this purpose, as per the state budget. “The royal order also calls for the formation of a committee at the Ministry of Education, together with the Ministry of Civil Service, the Ministry of Finance, and the Monitoring and Investigation Commission, to carry out its provisions,” Al-Araj tweeted. “The ministry immediately asked the Ministry of Education to start the committee’s meetings as of next Wednesday,” Al-Araj said, also thanking Crown Prince Mohammed bin Naif and Deputy Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman for their attending to all matters brought to their notice by concerned citizens. The case concerns a Ministry of Education decision to hire citizens after all procedures required by the ministries of Education and of Civil Service were completed. Shortly after their appointment however, a decision was made to dismiss them from their posts due to what the ministry said “mistakes in the appointment procedures.” A second group of employees was dismissed six months later, bringing the total number sacked employees to 200. The employees appealed against the ministry’s decision, but nothing happened until a group they formed was able to meet with King Salman and explain their circumstances and suffering. The king reassured them and asked for an official report, complete with supporting documents and case details. After studying the report, the king issued the royal order to reinstate the employees, according to their qualifications
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19-12-2016
Over 90% of Dubai residents aware of human trafficking, Dubai Police survey
Nearly 94 percent of Dubai residents have comprehensive or partial awareness of the concept of human trafficking, 4 per cent are not aware while 2 per cent have a different concept, according to a survey commissioned by Dubai Police on attitudes and awareness about human trafficking crimes. The survey of 1,597 random samples of Dubai resident, which was carried out by Addaera Research and Poll Centre and commissioned by Dubai Police’s Centre of Human Trafficking Monitor and Control Centre, covered three categories of respondents: members of the public, public sector employees, and private sector employees. Major General Abdul Quddus Al Obaidli, Assistant to the Dubai Police Commander-in-Chief for Quality and Excellence, affirmed Dubai's determination to take further security measures and actions to stop crimes related to human trafficking. ''A series of resolutions, measures and programmes will be introduced under the strategy of the National Committee to Combat Human Trafficking,'' he added. ''The survey aimed at assessing results of efforts made by the government to combat human trafficking crimes since the Federal Law No. (51) of 2006 on Combating Human Trafficking Crimes was issued and the committee was set up in 2007,'' he indicated. ''The important findings and valuable recommendations of the survey will have a far-reaching impact on the development and improvement of mechanisms and tools for fighting this crime,'' he added. In presenting the results of the survey, Hana Lootah, Executive Director of Addaera Research and Poll Centre, said 79 per cent of respondents have high awareness of the presence of anti-human trafficking laws in the country. ''Some 48 per cent of the members of the public are aware of the definition of the concept of human trafficking against 49 per cent and 41 per cent for those from the public sector and private sector, respectively,'' she noted. With regards to the UAE’s efforts in combating the crime, she said 33 per cent said that they were fully aware of the efforts, 35 per cent said they were somewhat aware, while the remaining said they were unaware. Interestingly, 68 per cent of the respondents said they received their information on human trafficking from the print and audio-visual media, while 47 per cent received it from awareness campaigns, lectures or workshops, and 24 per cent learnt about it from victims, she said. The respondents stressed the need for strict penalties against traffickers with approval of 95 per cent, 96 per cent and 97 per cent by the members of the public, private sector employees and public sector employees, respectively. The survey recommended the launch of extensive campaigns across the nation to raise public awareness about the crime and efforts to combat it. Police personnel should undergo intensive training to build their capacities professionally and academically so as to be able to detect the crime. The recommendations also included healthcare and support programmes to facilitate rehabilitation and re-integration of victims into the community so as to lead a safe life. Social partnerships with other stakeholders, particularly the health sector, should be bolstered and human trafficking laws should also be explained widely, especially at points of entry and exit. Media should also play an effective, increasing role as a key source of information to raise public awareness and support anti-human trafficking efforts.
news
17-12-2016
Kerala CM to visit Dubai on his maiden foreign trip
The UAE's Keralite community is gearing up to receive the state's chief minister Pinarayi Vijayan, who has chosen Dubai for his first overseas trip after assuming office in May this year, Khaleej Times has learnt. The CM, who has retained the Non-Resident Keralite Affairs Department (Norka) portfolio, is expected to be in the UAE for two days (December 22 and 23) and attend several public and private events, interacting with the community and business leaders. He is also expected to meet government leaders although no official details of that are available yet. "The first official visit of Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan to the UAE is an important milestone for the community. He has been keenly following the problems and issues facing the Keralite community abroad and many programmes are planned as part of his first official visit to the UAE," said K.L. Gopi, who is coordinating the leader's schedule in the UAE. Vijayan's UAE visit gains significance in the light of the UAE government recently establishing a consulate in Thiruvananthapuram, the state's capital. While on his visit, Vijayan is expected to address the problems faced by Indian expats due to India's demonetisation drive. "There will be a public programme in which about 10,000 Keralites from different emirates will participate," Gopi told Khaleej Times. He will speak at a public programme in Sharjah Indian School as part of the school's inauguration. Sources close to the CM's office confirmed the tentative visit to the UAE on December 22. "He will be attending a high-profile business meet in which about 200 prominent Indian businessmen will interact with the minister to discuss development plans for the state," the source said, adding that on 22nd evening, there will be the New Sharjah Indian School inauguration and public reception in the Sharjah school. Vijayan will also attend an awards ceremony in which Malayalam superstar Mammotty will be present. The CM is scheduled to return to Kerala on the 24th, the source revealed. Vijayan has been appealing to UAE-based investors to invest in the state, and recently inaugurated one of the largest shopping mall complex projects in Thiruvananthapuram by the UAE-based Emke Group. "We are all looking forward to his visit as the Chief Minister of Kerala," said Biju Divakaran, a Kerala expatriate in UAE. "Nearly a million Keralites reside in the UAE. We expect him to make some announcements to cheer us up."
news
16-12-2016
ILO’s Asia Pacific labour conference agrees to enhance labour migration governance in the interrelated regions of Asia and the Arab States
BALI (Indonesia) ILO News – The 16th Asia and the Pacific Regional Meeting (APRM) of the International Labour Organization (ILO) concluded on Friday (December 9) with a call for governments, workers’ and employers’ organizations in the region to do more to promote inclusive growth, social justice and decent work. At the closing ceremony of the APRM, delegates from 37 countries – including Bahrain, Jordan, Kuwait, Lebanon, Oman, Saudi Arabia, Qatar, and UAE - agreed a “Bali Declaration ” which outlines policy priorities in the world of work in the years ahead. “Governments, employers and workers in the region agree that action to promote decent work fosters inclusive growth and social justice, stimulates economic dynamism and innovation, and drives sustainable development,” the Declaration states. The Declaration outlines a number of policy priorities, including one on labour migration governance, and delegates asked the ILO to report back on progress towards achieving the Bali Declaration every two years. On labour migration, delegates recognized migrant workers as a disadvantaged category of workers in need of targeted efforts at promoting decent work, and agreed to work on enhancing labour migration policies in accordance with international labour standards, especially those concerning fair recruitment principles. These include not charging recruitment fees or related costs to workers and allowing them to keep their own identity and travel documents. Protection measures should be provided, including arrangements to improve portability of skills and social security. Delegates also agreed to redress employer-worker relationships that amount to bonded labour, and safeguard migrant workers’ freedom of movement, their right to terminate employment or change employers, and to return freely to their countries of origin. “As such, the Bali Declaration offers guidance to implement the Fair Migration Agenda in the interrelated regions of Asia and the Arab States in the years to come,” said Hans van de Glind, the ILO’s Senior Migration Specialist for Arab States. During the conference deliberations, and in a variety of sessions, many delegates touched upon the plight of migrant workers and the benefits they help generate. The meeting featured a plenary session on fair recruitment that included a presentation on the recently adopted ILO General principles and operational guidelines on fair recruitment , a perspective from a destination country in the Arab States, and a perspective on changing the culture of low-skilled migrant workers paying recruitment fees. The latter was based on an ILO white paper by Dr. Ray Jureidini . All perspectives and the discussion that ensued are covered in a summary report .
news
15-12-2016
Two KSA Indians selected for 2016 Pravasi Excellence award
JEDDAH — Two Indian expatriates from Saudi Arabia have been selected for the “Pravasi Bharatiya Excellence Award 2016”. Mohammed Abdul Rahman Saleem, president of Hindustani Bazm-e-Urdu Riyadh, is a well-known social activist and an architect by profession and Seshu Kumar Pitani, a mechanical engineer in Petro Rabigh, have been selected for the award in recognition of their tireless efforts for welfare their community in Saudi Arabia. Pravasi Bharatiya Divas (Non-Resident Indian Day) is celebrated in India every year on Jan. 9 to mark the contribution of overseas Indians for the development of the country. The 14th Pravasi Bharatiya Divas will be held in Bangalore with the theme “Redefining Engagement with the Indian Diaspora”. Pravasi Bhartiya Divas is a program organized by the Ministry of Overseas Indian Affairs to foster greater interaction between the Indian Diaspora and the government. It provides the diaspora a platform to put forth their issues and grievances before the government. At the same time, the government also uses this occasion to showcase opportunities for investment in India to the expatriate community. Pitani has been involved in several welfare activities and awareness campaigns among the Telugu community in Rabigh since 2013. He is an active member of Telugu Association Jeddah (TAJ). Saleem, who has been serving in the Kingdom for the past 40 years is a well-recognized senior NRI in Riyadh. Speaking to Saudi Gazette, he said, “I feel proud and humble by my nomination for the Pravasi Excellence Award 2016 by COTA. Dedication and good work always pay off in the form of recognition. I am thankful to selection committee.” Saleem arrived in the Kingdom in 1976. He worked for the Mataf expansion project in the Grand Mosque in Makkah with Consultant Associated Consulting Engineers and then became the head of Design Section in Umm Ul-Qura University from 1977 to 1988. He has also designed Al-Azizia and Al-Zahir Complex buildings. Saleem joined Salah Abal Khaleel Consulting Engineers in 1988 as chief architect and got promoted to the level of vice president of the company. Since 2007, he is working in Gulf Real Estate Company as director of projects. “Many projects were completed during my tenure, among them are Al-Yamamah Press, Ministry of Interior Car Park,” he said. He has been the founder of many community organizations in Riyadh, including NRI Architects Association, Bazme Hyderabad, Bazme Urdu Riyadh, Bazme Ittehad Riyadh Chapter, Bazme Urdu Toastmasters Club Riyadh. He has also been the first recipient of Salar E Millat award from Bazme Ittehad, Saudi Arabia. In recognition of his services and exemplary contribution in the field of architecture and community service in Saudi Arabia, he has been selected for the Pravasi Excellence Award-2016. A total of 15 NRIs from different Gulf countries have been selected for the award this year. All the recipients will be felicitated in Hyderabad on the occasion of International Migrants Day on Dec. 18. The Pravasi Bharatiya Samman Awards (PBSA) is the highest honor conferred on overseas Indians by the President of India as part of the PBD Conventions organized annually since 2003.
news
14-12-2016
Workers in Qatar seek security with labor law change
Doha — “I’ve heard about a change in the law, but what the change will be I don’t know,” says Girijesh, an Indian electrician, during his hour-long lunch break in downtown Doha. The “change” he is referring to is arguably the single biggest labor overhaul ever to be undertaken by Qatar. Migrant workers are seen walking next to a construction site in the Qatari capital Doha on Sunday. — AFP Migrant workers are seen walking next to a construction site in the Qatari capital Doha on Sunday. — AFP On Monday, the Gulf state announced the end of its “kafala” sponsorship law, replacing it with a contract-based system for workers. All foreign workers wanting to work in Qatar currently require a local sponsor, in the form of an individual or company, and also need their permission to switch jobs or leave the country. Qatar says the new system will make it easier for workers to leave the country or change employment as they will be able to deal directly with employers. Tuesday’s announcement also sits alongside previous reforms which shows Doha is responding to its critics, officials say. But what of the views of those on the front line, the laborers helping to build the infrastructure which the world will see in six years’ time? Girijesh is just one of hundreds of blue and yellow-overalled workers resting after a morning’s work in Mshereib, where an estimated $5.5 billion project to convert a rundown part of Doha into a gleaming financial and tourist center is under way. Here, where stray cats now scavenge skips for food, traders sell tobacco for five Qatari riyals and workers sit on the steps of a rundown mall housing computer and clothing shops, will be built Doha’s very own “Wall Street” financial district. As Girijesh speaks, a crowd gathers, eager to voice their own concerns about working conditions. Most concern pay — either not receiving their monthly salary or only finding out once they were in Qatar that the money they were promised before leaving is a fraction of what they actually earn. “My work is really hard and really dangerous as well, but I only earn 600 Qatari riyals a month,” says Nazamudin, a Nepalese marble fitter. That works out at around $165, or 155 euros. He was promised double that amount before leaving home and paying more than $1,100 to get a visa into Qatar. “I don’t want to be here,” he says sadly. Similarly Ibrahim, an electrician from Bangladesh, says he receives a salary of 810 riyals, despite being promised 1,200 a month. To compound matters he has not been paid for months. What these workers say they want — whether under a sponsorship or contract system — is wage security. “All laborers have a problem in Qatar,” says Ibrahim, who has to pay off 30,000 Qatari riyals to an agent who helped him secure work in the Gulf. “If the Qataris are implementing this new law, hopefully it will be better for us,” he tells AFP through an interpreter. “The main thing is the contract. My contract is my security and I need to be secure.” Scaffolder Saddulhaq from Bangladesh says laborers are exploited by unscrupulous agents, and not only over pay. He says many cannot read, so they have no idea what they are signing up to, or even for the amount of time they will be in Qatar. “We do not know how long we are going to work for,” Saddulhaq says. At its worst, the uncertainty over pay can lead to workers paying the ultimate price, says Amir, a Nepalese carpenter. “Many people choose suicide,” said the father-of-four. “Some months we don’t get paid. Your family is starving, your kids are starving, there’s no food at home… that’s why people choose suicide.” Asked how often colleagues take their own lives, Amir says there are cases every month.
news
13-12-2016
Qatar abolishes controversial 'kafala' labour system
Qatar is ending its labour sponsorship system that forces foreign workers to seek their employer's permission to change jobs or leave the country. It says a new contract-based law will replace the "kafala" system, ensuring greater flexibility and protection. Human rights groups say the change leaves the system - which they describe as modern-day slavery - intact. Qatar has imported hundreds of thousands of construction workers for the 2022 football World Cup. Rights groups say many of them have died because of appalling working conditions.
news
13-12-2016
Qatar ‘tweaks’ kafala system for expats
DUBAI: Qatar announced yesterday it is introducing long-expected reforms to policies governing its vast foreign-labor force, though the changes still require workers to seek clearance from their bosses before leaving the country. The new policies follow years of intense criticism from labor and human rights activists over working conditions in Qatar. The natural gas-rich country is in the midst of a torrid building boom tied to its hosting of the 2022 World Cup. Critics say Qatar’s long-standing “kafala” sponsorship system binding workers to their employer leaves migrants open to abuse, and in some cases can amount to forced labor. Qatar touted the reforms as abolishing the kafala system altogether. Rights groups say the changes fall far short of what is needed to protect the armies of mostly Asian low-wage workers transforming the tiny country. A statement released by the Ministry of Administrative Development, Labor and Social Affairs said the changes are intended to ensure “greater flexibility, freedom and protection” to the more than 2.1 million workers in Qatar. The minister responsible for labor, Issa bin Saad Al-Jafali Al-Nuaimi, said Qatar welcomes constructive criticism and he urged outsiders to give the law time to take root before drawing any conclusions. He said the ministry is boosting its monitoring efforts and hiring more labor inspectors to enforce compliance. “We are doing this because we believe it is the right thing to do and because it provides tangible new benefits to expatriate workers,” Nuaimi said. Although the statement suggested the policies took effect yesterday, the government subsequently confirmed they would only become law today – a year after the emir signed off on the change. Under the new law, workers will generally be free to leave Qatar so long as they inform their employer first. Employees whose bosses refuse can appeal to a government committee that must address requests within three days. DOHA: Migrant workers are seen walking next to a construction site in the Qatari capital on Dec 6, 2016. Workers who have unsettled debts – potentially anyone who has taken out a local credit card, mortgage, or car or personal loan – or those wanted as part of a criminal case can be forced to stay. The law allows workers to change jobs, but only after they complete an existing fixed-term contract or have worked five years on an open-ended one. The new reforms impose fines of up to 25,000 riyal ($6,865) on businesses who confiscate employees’ passports. “The new law is the latest step towards improving and protecting the rights of every expatriate worker in Qatar,” Nuaimi said. “It replaces the kafala system with a modernized, contract-based system that safeguards workers’ rights and increases job flexibility.” Rights activists that have examined the reforms say they continue to leave workers ripe for exploitation by unscrupulous employers. “This new law may get rid of the word ‘sponsorship’ but it leaves the same basic system intact,” said James Lynch, Amnesty International’s deputy director for global issues. He urged football’s world governing body FIFA, its sponsors and those seeking to do business with it or Qatar to “not use this reform to claim that the problem of migrant labor abuse has been solved”. Human Rights Watch echoed that sentiment. “The message this law sends is that Qatar doesn’t really care much about migrant workers,” said Joe Stork, the group’s deputy Middle East director. “Its sponsorship system remains a serious stain on Qatar’s international reputation.” World Cup organizers say some 36,000 people will work on its projects next year. Many more workers toil away on other job sites such as roads, hotels and public transportation links that will cater to fans attending the games. Yesterday’s announcement sits alongside previous reforms which shows Doha is responding to its critics, officials say. But what of the views of those on the front line, the laborers helping to build the infrastructure which the world will see in six years’ time? “I’ve heard about a change in the law, but what the change will be I don’t know,” said Girijesh, an Indian electrician, during his hour-long lunch break in downtown Doha. Girijesh is just one of hundreds of blue and yellow-overalled workers resting after a morning’s work in Mshereib, where an estimated $5.5 billion project to convert a ru
news
12-12-2016
New strategy to fight joblessness Deputy Crown Prince tells ministries concerned to come up with a plan in three months
JEDDAH — Deputy Crown Prince Muhammad Bin Salman, minister of defense and chairman of the Council of Economic and Development Affairs (CEDA), has called for an integrated strategy to link education and training with the labor market so as to fight joblessness among Saudis. The Deputy Crown Prince has instructed the ministries concerned to prepare a strategy within three months, Minister of Labor and Social Development Ali Al-Ghafis was quoted as saying by Al-Madina Arabic daily on Sunday. “The strategy will focus on the technical and vocational aspects rather than the theoretical side of education,” the minister said. Al-Ghafis said his ministry will concentrate its efforts on reducing unemployment by extending full support to the Public Authority for Small and Medium Enterprises. According to the figures of the General Authority of Statistics (GAS), the rate of unemployment among Saudis in the third quarter of the current year was 12.1 percent. According to the Saudi Vision 2030, the rate of unemployment will come down to nine percent in 2020 and to seven percent in 2030. The strategy will aim at making a better use of the technical and vocational education which will further facilitate the nationalization of jobs, especially in the private sector. The Vision aims at further expanding the Saudization of jobs especially in the industrial and construction sectors. According to labor market specialists, there should be a plan to gradually replace expatriates with Saudis in the private sector. They also said that fake Saudization should be immediately stopped so as to reduce recruitment from outside. According to GAS, there are about 10.5 million expatriates living and working in the Kingdom while more than 700,000 Saudis are jobless. It said the unemployed Saudis who are looking for work are aged between 21-35 years of age. The General Authority of Statistics said that as many as 1.9 million work visas were issued last year to recruit foreign manpower.
news
08-12-2016
Indian ambassador warns against unscrupulous recruitment agents
RIYADH – Indian Ambassador Ahmed Javed has noted that blue-collar workers and housemaids are the worst hit by unscrupulous practices of recruitment agents and middlemen. Javed said the government of India, represented by the Riyadh Embassy and the Consulate General in Jeddah, will do everything possible to protect the interests of these workers, who are increasingly being cheated by recruitment agents. He made the remarks while receiving two legislators from the southern Indian state of Kerala. Adv. P.T.A. Raheem and Karat Abdul Razak, members of the Kerala Legislative Assembly who were on a visit to the Kingdom, met the ambassador at his office in Riyadh. Social workers Muneeb Pazhoor, Shabeer Vayoli, Abdul Salam O.K and Vayoli Mohammed Master were also present at the meeting. The ambassador drew attention to several complaints being received by the Indian diplomatic mission against recruiting agents. A large number of laborers and housemaids coming from the lower strata of society have become victims of exploitation. Many agents are involved in recruiting housemaids and workers in violation of labor rules, Javed pointed out. Razak, who is also a member of the Assembly panel on expatriate issues, sought the ambassador’s suggestions on steps to be taken by the government of Kerala on expatriate-related issues. Responding to this, Javed noted that the majority of about 3 million Indian expatriates in Saudi Arabia are blue-collar workers, who are not fully aware of their rights and can easily be cheated by either recruitment firms or employers. “The poor education level, Arabic language illiteracy and a lack of awareness about their rights and the labor regulations in the Kingdom are the major factors that contribute to the exploitation of workers by recruitment agents and employers,” he pointed out. The ambassador underscored the need to closely monitor the recruitment process and keep a tight rein on human traffickers and illegal recruitment practices. Raheem, who is a former chairman of the Kerala State Haj Committee, discussed with the ambassador matters related to the Haj pilgrimage. “Strict regulations introduced by the Saudi authorities to restrict the performance of Haj without permits by Saudi citizens and residents contributed to the huge success of organizing last Haj. Restrictions on domestic pilgrims helped tremendously in easing the performance of Haj rituals for foreign pilgrims,” the ambassador added.
news
07-12-2016
Expatriates can manage more than one company
KUWAIT: Minister of Social Affairs and Labor, State Minister for Planning and Development Hind Al-Subaih issued a decision to allow an expatriate to be hired as a manager in more than one company, based on a recommendation from the Ministry of Commerce and Industry. The previous regulations stipulated that an expatriate could only be hired as a manager in the same company he has his visa on, and could not be assigned to manage another company even if it belonged to the same group.
news
05-12-2016
Over 4,500 complaints against insurance firms in one year
RIYADH — The Council of Cooperative Health Insurance (CCHI) received 5,283 complaints, of which 4,562 were against health insurance companies, last year, according to a CCHI official. The council received about 450,000 calls through various channels of communication that ranged from complaints to inquiries, said CCHI spokesman Yasser Al-Maarik. He said complaints increased by 122 percent since last year, evidence that people have more awareness of their rights and that the insurance market has grown in size by 48 percent. Over 12.4 million people are covered through 3,927 accredited healthcare providers that handled over SR14 billion in health insurance premiums in 2016. Al-Maarik said that 99 percent of complaints were resolved. A majority of complaints were against employers for their failure to provide health insurance to employees and their dependents. He said that all organizations of all sizes are required to provide insurance to part-time workers similar to full-time employees. An employer who doesn’t provide health insurance to part-time employees and their dependents will face penalties, he said. The maximum benefits offered by the cooperative health insurance is about SR500,000. More than 3.8 million Saudis in the private sector have health insurance cover. Of them 1.2 million are employees and the rest are family members. The number will rise to about 15 million after the introduction of health insurance for workers in the private sector.
news
03-12-2016
Saudi labor minister changed; top religious body, Shoura reshuffled
RIYADH: Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques King Salman has replaced the Saudi labor minister and reshuffled the Kingdom’s top consultative body, SPA reported on Friday. In a royal decree, the king also reshuffled the Council of Senior Scholars. King Salman had appointed Ali bin Nasser Al-Ghafis as labor minister to replace Mufrej Al-Haqabani. The Council of Senior Scholars, headed by Grand Mufti Sheikh Abdul Aziz Al-Asheikh, will be re-structured, according to the decree. King Salman also ordered extensions for dedicated sheikhs who are members at the Permanent Committee for Ifta, which is affiliated with the council. As per the decree, Mohammad Al-Amr, Shoura’s secretary-general, has been relieved of his post. The new formation of the council will see Abdullah bin Mohammad Al-Sheikh as speaker, Mohammad bin Amin Ahmad Al-Jafry as deputy speaker, and Yahia bin Abdullah Al-Samghan as assistant speaker. Of the new Shoura appointments, 29 members are females. One of them is Lina K. Almaeena, a popular figure in Jeddah who has assiduously promoted sports among young people, especially women. She is the cofounder and CEO of Jeddah United Sports Co. Lina was thrilled and overwhelmed to hear the news. Speaking to Arab News Friday night, she said: “I am very honored with the royal trust. I ask God to provide me the strength to carry out this responsibility to serve the nation. Our country is full of opportunities and we should utilize them and make our Vision 2030 a reality.” Saleh bin Manie Al-Khelaiwi, director general of Saudi Customs, and Nayef bin Hashal Al-Roumi, governor of the Public Education Evaluation Commission, have been relieved of their duties. Abdul Rahman bin Mohammad Al-Sadhan has been appointed as a minister-ranked consultant at the Royal Court, according to the decree.
news
02-12-2016
Indian consulate teams to visit Makkah, Yanbu today
JEDDAH – Consular cum community welfare teams from the Indian Consulate General, Jeddah, will visit Makkah and Yanbu on Friday. The teams will provide consular services, such as attestation of documents and passport services not provided by outsourcing agencies to Indian nationals living in those regions. Indian nationals residing in these regions can take advantage of the visit to avail of consular services and meeting the visiting officials to convey their grievances and suggestions with regard to labor and welfare issues, according to a press statement. The consulate asked Indian expatriates to submit written statements describing their problems, including those related to consular services. The team will be available at the Indian Haj Mission Office, Makkah (Tel. 012-5603690/5603580) and VFS Global-Shop No. 3, Higgi Center, King Abdulaziz Street, Opp. El-Faleh Sports House, Yanbu (Tel. 014-3227598) from 8 a.m. to 12 p.m. and 1 p.m. and 5 p.m.
news
01-12-2016
Saudi Arabia seeking reciprocity on visa fees: minister
RIYADH: Saudi Arabia’s commerce minister said Wednesday that the kingdom is seeking reciprocal treatment on visas, after critics said the introduction of higher fees risked deterring investment. Saudi Arabia last month introduced higher work visa fees for citizens of some countries, one of many moves adopted by the kingdom to cover a 51 percent slump in oil revenue last year following a sharp drop in global crude prices. Speaking to AFP on the sidelines of the MISK Global Forum, Commerce and Investment Minister Majed Al-Qasabi said the kingdom was seeking “bilateral agreements with other countries” and that higher fees would not apply “as long as we’re treated equally.” He did not respond directly to a question about the impact on investment, but added: “The government is globally inviting investors to come here.” The higher tariffs, which took effect last month, do not apply to citizens of the European Union or the United States. But for other countries, a six-month business or work-visit visa allowing multiple entries now costs 3,000 riyals ($800), compared with 400 riyals (just over $100) previously. Diplomats told AFP last month that some investors were already reconsidering plans in Saudi Arabia following the fee increase, with one calling the move “incredibly short-sighted.” As part of efforts to wean the economy off oil and promote job creation among Saudis, the kingdom aims to promote small- and medium-sized enterprises under the wide-ranging Vision 2030 reform plan announced in April. But higher visa fees would be a particular disincentive for SMEs, the diplomats said. Earlier Wednesday Qasabi addressed the MISK forum, which aims to link business leaders with young Saudis in a bid to inspire their involvement in economic diversification.
news
26-11-2016
Company ordered to clear salary dues
RIYADH — The Ministry of Labor and Social Development has strictly instructed a cleaning company in Unaizah, Qassim province, to disburse delayed salaries of about 150 workers. An inspection team from the labor office in Unaizah visited the firm’s headquarters and took note of the grievances and complaints of the workers. The officials then asked the management to clear all salary arrears without delay. According to the ministry sources, the number of labor problems such as delay in disbursement of salaries and allowances has witnessed a decline after the imposition of the Wage Protection Program. It was also instrumental in increasing productivity by creating an appropriate work environment. The program helps the ministry to get an exact picture of the labor market with minute details with regard to compliance with labor regulations by both employers and employees. The ministry urged the public to inform it about any violations by visiting its website for the purpose (www.rasd.ma3an.gov.sa) or calling the toll free number 19911.
news
25-11-2016
New Saudization plan: Employ Saudis, gain points
JEDDAH — The Ministry of Labor and Social Development will implement a new Saudization strategy next month to increase the employment of Saudis in various sectors. The new strategic program will be based on point system, said a report carried by Al-Madina Arabic daily. The program will also consider the average period of stay of employed Saudis in a firm and the number of Saudis drawing high salaries. The progress of Saudization in a firm will be estimated every week for a total of 26 weeks in a row and a firm will get 10 points for every one percent growth in Saudization, the report pointed out. A firm will get a maximum of 1,000 points, assuming 100 percent Saudization of jobs in the organization. The Saudization of women will be considered depending on the number of women registered with the firm through the General Organization for Social Insurance (GOSI). A firm will get two points for each one percent of Saudi women employed with a maximum of 200 points to be earned. A firm will receive four points for each year spent by a Saudi worker in the organization and a maximum of 100 points if a Saudi stays 25 years. Average salary of Saudi workers in a firm will be calculated after adding the salaries of all Saudi workers. Six points will be given for every SR1,000. A firm can earn a maximum of 270 points. For every one percent Saudis getting high salaries a firm will get 0.1 point with a maximum of 10 points.
news
24-11-2016
Balanced Nitaqat may readjust companies’ ranks
JEDDAH — Some companies ranked higher in the Saudization category might be pushed down the ladder when the new Balanced (Mawzoon) Nitaqat system comes into effect on Dec. 11, Ahmad Kattan, deputy minister of labor and social development for labor policies, told Saudi Gazette. According to the new rules, the numerical strength of Saudi workers will not count. Saudization will be calculated on the percentage of Saudis, average salary of Saudi staff, percentage of women staff, job stability of Saudis, and percentage of Saudis with higher pay. Their salary, number of women staff, years of service of Saudis, and their grades of jobs will also be counted. The ministry, Kattan said, will launch a new calculator that will allow each establishment to know its status in the new Balanced Nitaqat system. Speaking about disabled people, Kattan said they are still counting each disabled person as four Saudis. However, large establishments are required to provide a suitable work environment for the disabled. These include illuminated emergency warnings for the deaf, computerized systems for the visually impaired and easy access for the physically challenged. “These are easy measures that we require only from large establishments. If they fail to implement these instructions, then each disabled person will be counted as two Saudis,” said Kattan. He said employers must post job offers at the ministry’s website for two weeks. If the employer is not satisfied with Saudi applicants he can proceed with recruitment from abroad. Kattan and other officials from the ministry were explained the new Balanced Nitaqat system to human resource managers during an interaction at the Jeddah Chamber of Commerce and Industry on Wednesday.
news
22-11-2016
Sharjah Labour Standards Development Authority launches labour housing survey
The Sharjah Labour Standards Development Authority (SLSDA) recently launched the GIS-based Labour Housing Survey in the Emirate of Sharjah. The survey aims to develop best practices to improve work environments for labourers in the emirate. The initiative was launched in response to the directives of His Highness Sheikh Dr. Sultan bin Muhammad Al Qasimi, Member of the Supreme Council and Ruler of Sharjah, to provide the best services to labourers in the Emirate of Sharjah. The survey is being conducted under the observation of His Highness Sheikh Sultan bin Mohammed bin Sultan Al Qasimi, Crown Prince and Deputy Ruler of Sharjah and Chairman of the Sharjah Executive Council. Salem Yousef Al Qaseer, Chairman of the SLSDA, said, “The SLSDA is striving to improve the working environment in the Emirate of Sharjah by providing the best possible support and resources to labourers and employers to enable them to work in a world-class environment and perform their work efficiently. This will enable them to effectively contribute to the economic development process in the Emirate of Sharjah and the UAE.” He added: “The labour accommodations survey aims to document all the data in a database – this database is crucial as labour housing is a vital component of the working environment in Sharjah and the industrial areas of the emirate.” Sheikh Mohammed bin Saqr Al Qasimi, Director of the SLSDA, said: “The survey aims to identify and locate all labour accommodations in the Emirate of Sharjah to produce an accurate data set of the number of accommodations and labourers. Moreover, the SLSDA also needs to classify these accommodations from sharing to individual, temporary to permanent and use serial barcodes to distinguish these accommodations.” Furthermore, Director Al Qasimi added that the campaign will check the compliance with safety measures in terms of the materials used, electricity grids and water supply systems, in addition to the lighting and ventilation in the housing units, among other safety measures in the checklist. The survey will examine the status of workers and will ensure they are provided with protection, safety and a decent life. The survey uses the most up-to- date smart GIS technologies for surveying labour housing in the Emirate of Sharjah to enable the SLSDA to quickly survey and document labour camps. To conduct the survey, the SLSDA formed an internal task force composed of 7 supervisors, 5 technical support officers and 24 surveyors to collect data. The SLSDA aims to provide the necessary support to employers and employees working in the Emirate of Sharjah, in cooperation and coordination with concerned government agencies and private enterprises.
news
21-11-2016
Saudi to protect workers’ rights
Saudi Arabia has “zero tolerance” for transgression of a worker’s rights and human trafficking, and authorities there will investigate the details of an “alleged incident”, as reported in the Indian media, about an Indian automobile engineer being “sold” to a Saudi national and being treated as a “slave”. A Saudi embassy statement said in response to media reports that Indian national Jayanta Biswas, from Kolkata, went to Saudi Arabia on a tourist visa, after he was conned by agents in New Delhi, only to find he had been “sold” to a Saudi national to work in his camel farm. If this incident was found true, “the alleged violator would face proper and necessary legal action” with “full force of the law”. The statement went on to say: “The Kingdom has strict laws against human trafficking. There is a special department in the Ministry of Labour to deal with crimes of human trafficking. The government has zero tolerance for any transgression of a worker’s rights. “(Saudi Arabian) authorities when provided with valid information will investigate the details of the alleged incident… If found true, the alleged violator would face proper and necessary legal action,” the statement said. The Embassy also welcomed efforts by Indian authorities to curb such illegal activities in a bid to stop exploitation or misleading employment seekers going Saudi Arabia. Nearly three million Indians, a large number of them professionals like engineers, doctors and IT experts, live and work in Saudi Arabia, the embassy said. “They are an important pillar of the friendship that our two countries enjoy. Some isolated incidents of abuse or mistreatment should not be seen as the norm and should not be generalised to portray a country or society,” the statement added.
news
19-11-2016
Anti-expat sentiments on the rise; Interior plans to fines and fees
UWAIT: The Ministry of Interior plans to ask the next National Assembly to approve decisions to increase charges of Ministry services as a whole and on residency services in particular, the head of the Residency Department said yesterday. Director of the General Department for Residence Affairs Major General Talal Maarafi also said that the Ministry plans to double the overstay fine from the current KD 2 per day to KD 4 for residence violators. Maarafi did not provide further details on the type of charges the ministry plans to raise and whether the KD 600 ceiling fine for residence violators will be also increased. Currently, foreigners who overstay their residence permits are required to pay a fine of KD 2 per day up to a maximum ceiling of KD 600 regardless of the duration. He did not explain if the overstay fine for visitors will also be raised. The fine for visitors who overstay is KD 10 per day with a ceiling not exceeding KD 1,000. Maarafi said other decisions include toughening penalties on those who provide shelter or work to absconding foreign workers and also on those workers themselves. The official also said that the residence department has started implementing the recent increase in the salary cap required by expatriates to be able to sponsor their wives and children which was raised from KD 250 to KD 450. He said the measure is primarily aimed at reducing the number of so-called “marginal” or unskilled foreign workforce. He also said that the ministry will introduce new measures with the aim to further cut the number of unskilled laborers. At present, Kuwait is home to 1.3 million native citizens and around 3 million foreigners, a majority of them Asians with close to a record-breaking 1 million Indians. There are over 650,000 domestic helpers, a majority of them female, among the expatriates. Maarafi regretted that this important issue has escaped the attention of a majority of candidates in the November 26 snap polls. Kuwait has witnessed a significant rise in anti-expat, anti-foreigner sentiment in recent years, with many social problems include excessive traffic, youth unemployment and other issues often blamed on the country’s foreign population.
news
19-11-2016
Anti-expat sentiments on the rise; Interior plans to fines and fees
UWAIT: The Ministry of Interior plans to ask the next National Assembly to approve decisions to increase charges of Ministry services as a whole and on residency services in particular, the head of the Residency Department said yesterday. Director of the General Department for Residence Affairs Major General Talal Maarafi also said that the Ministry plans to double the overstay fine from the current KD 2 per day to KD 4 for residence violators. Maarafi did not provide further details on the type of charges the ministry plans to raise and whether the KD 600 ceiling fine for residence violators will be also increased. Currently, foreigners who overstay their residence permits are required to pay a fine of KD 2 per day up to a maximum ceiling of KD 600 regardless of the duration. He did not explain if the overstay fine for visitors will also be raised. The fine for visitors who overstay is KD 10 per day with a ceiling not exceeding KD 1,000. Maarafi said other decisions include toughening penalties on those who provide shelter or work to absconding foreign workers and also on those workers themselves. The official also said that the residence department has started implementing the recent increase in the salary cap required by expatriates to be able to sponsor their wives and children which was raised from KD 250 to KD 450. He said the measure is primarily aimed at reducing the number of so-called “marginal” or unskilled foreign workforce. He also said that the ministry will introduce new measures with the aim to further cut the number of unskilled laborers. At present, Kuwait is home to 1.3 million native citizens and around 3 million foreigners, a majority of them Asians with close to a record-breaking 1 million Indians. There are over 650,000 domestic helpers, a majority of them female, among the expatriates. Maarafi regretted that this important issue has escaped the attention of a majority of candidates in the November 26 snap polls. Kuwait has witnessed a significant rise in anti-expat, anti-foreigner sentiment in recent years, with many social problems include excessive traffic, youth unemployment and other issues often blamed on the country’s foreign population.
news
18-11-2016
Private sector dues to be cleared by Dec. 31; signing of SR1 trillion mega projects halted
RIYADH – A package to clear all the government dues owed to private sector firms before the end of 2016 has been announced. This is part of a raft of measures and procedures approved during a meeting of the Council of Economic and Development Affairs (CEDA), chaired by Deputy Crown Prince Muhammad Bin Salman, second deputy premier and minister of defense, at Al-Yamamah Palace in Riyadh on Monday night. The meeting has authorized the Deputy Crown Prince, who is also chairman of CEDA, to present the package to Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques King Salman. The measures include reviewing a number of projects and rearranging priorities of spending, in addition to halting the signing of several mega projects amounting to a total of SR1 trillion. The meeting came out with a package of solutions and procedures for the settlement of dues that fulfilled the requirements. The package entails quick start of settling the dues and complete them before Dec. 31, the last day of the current fiscal year, the Saudi Press Agency reported. The meeting discussed a number of economic and development issues including complete payment of amounts owed to the private sector, while noting that this has been delayed in light of a sharp decline in oil revenues. The Council discussed the mechanism for the disbursement of these dues based on rearranging priorities of spending by achieving the highest degree of transparency through an electronic portal so as to become a tool to provide accurate information about public expenditure. The Council discussed the state of completed government projects, associated measures taken by the state to review a number of projects and rearranging priorities of spending, according to their significance and efficiency, including the application of procedures by overcoming operational obstacles. The meeting also discussed the reports of government agencies as well as that of the Office to Raise Efficiency of Spending about the actions taken to raise the efficiency of government spending, including orders and decisions of restructuring some government sectors and the actions taken for reviewing the amounts approved for a number projects in alignment with the priorities, developmental needs and standards of efficiency in spending. These included a review of hundreds of contracts so as to re-schedule execution of some of them, modify contractual formulas and technical specifications for others, in accordance with the statutory regulations and the terms of the contract that contributed to the savings of tens of billions of riyals.
news
17-11-2016
Workplace stress alert: 60% of employees plan to quit jobs soon
Any job can have stressful elements, even if you love what you do. However, when 80% of working professionals complain that they suffer from stress and their organizations don't have any programs to manage stress at work – it is something to be alarmed about. ‘Workplace stress’ or ‘occupational stress’ is identified as a medical hazard, which has serious physical and psychological implications on individuals' wellbeing. Every working professional- regardless of age, experience, gender and profile has felt the pressure of work-related stress at some point in their career. “While some level of stress is acceptable and even beneficial to keep you on your toes, the problems arise when it becomes overwhelming or chronic. In today’s fast-paced work environment, chronic stress has become a common ailment for many professionals, issues such as anxiety, depression, insomnia, migraines, and heart problems start affecting employee wellbeing and productivity. The TimesJobs study reveals, 60% of employees find workplace stress so high that they want to quit their jobs. This is not a healthy sign," says Nilanjan Roy, Head of Strategy, Times Business Solutions. Smaller Organizations are more stressful The TimesJobs study reveals 80% of employees complain of stress at work, to the extent that nearly 60% want to quit their jobs because of high stress levels. Further, employees belonging to small-size organizations report comparatively higher level of stress at work than employees from large organizations. About 50% employees from small organizations said they face high level of stress at work while 30% employees from large organizations say so. Half of all employees attribute stress at workplace to having a bad boss. For 35% employees their poor pay is a major cause of stress. Nearly 30% employees say that a bad work environment causes them stress, 25% employees cite unclear job expectations as the reason for their stress and lack of recognition at workplace is resulting in stress for 20% employees. Stress takes its Toll Employees are reporting multiple physical and psychological disorders dues to work stress. About 35% employees have developed insomnia, 30% feel tired and fatigued all the time, loss of appetite is a major physical impact for 25% employees and 10% say they have persistent body aches. On the psychological front, 40% employees report depression as the main consequence of workplace stress. Increased irritability has occurred to 25% employees, another 25% complaint of increased incidences of anger and 10% have developed anxiety issues. While 60% employees want to quit their jobs because of workplace stress, 20% feel venting it out helps them. For 10% employees relaxation techniques such as deep breathing and meditation help them cope with stress and another 10% take a break and go on vacation to recover from stress. While 90% employees are interested in participating in corporate stress management programs, it is revealing that 80% of them report that there are no such programs offered by their organizations states the TimesJobs Study. Stress causes many long-term adverse impacts, in order to combat this growing menace employers must work with their employees to diagnose and cure this rampant condition. Having an employee-friendly culture, a flexible work environment, feedback and recognition programs, stress management sessions and open communication policies are some steps that can help reduce stress levels within organizations significantly.
news
16-11-2016
New Saudi rules, fees for helpers, vehicles, cattle
KUWAIT: The interior ministry’s relations and security media department announced that Saudi Arabia has started implementing new measures concerning the entry of domestic helpers accompanying Kuwaiti families into the kingdom. The department highlighted that the new visa fees for helpers would be 2,000 riyals per visit instead of the earlier fee of 200 riyals. In addition, vehicles with Kuwaiti license plates can only remain in Saudi Arabia for a maximum period of three months. The department noted that the Hamteyyat land border exit has been closed and cattle owners who want to take their herds to graze in Saudi Arabia can only go through the Khafji and Reqee land border exits. Accordingly, the department urged all citizens to respect the new rules in order to avoid delays at these exits. Separately, the department said the manager of the domestic helpers department Mohammed Al-Ajmi announced the cancellation of 42 domestic help offices that failed to legalize their statuses as per article 50 of the domestic labor act no. 68/2015 and clause no. 7 of article 17 of the ministerial decision number 2194/2016, that went into effect yesterday. Accordingly, no visas would be issued for these offices. He also noted that the department has received applications to establish 41 new offices and four companies. Ajmi explained that article 50 of law 68/2015 states that licensed domestic help recruitment offices operating at the time the law was passed had to adjust and legalize their statuses within a maximum of three months of the issuance of the law’s executive charter. Ajmi added that article 17 of ministerial decision no. 2194/2016 states that the license will be cancelled if the owner loses any of the license conditions, violates article 4 of the law, it is proved that the license was issued using fake documents, the license expires or is terminated, the owner relinquishes the license, the office is used as labor dormitory or for not adjusting the office’s legal status according to law number 68/2015.
news
14-11-2016
GCC labor officials discuss uniform law for protection of disabled
RIYADH: The preparatory meeting for the 33rd session of the ministers of labor and social affairs from the six-member Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) held here Sunday discussed a number of key issues including a uniform law for the protection of persons with disabilities and a coordination body for joint charity work in the Gulf region. Undersecretaries of the ministries of labor and social development opened the preparatory meeting, while the 33rd meeting of the minsters will officially open Tuesday in Riyadh to discuss the joint strategy on labor and social development as well as conditions of foreign workers in the region, a senior official from the Saudi Ministry of Labor and Social Development told Arab News. Labor and Social Development Minister Mufrej Al-Haqabani heads the current session of the GCC labor and social affairs ministers’ council. Commenting on the agenda during the preparatory meeting, Khalid Aba Al-Khail, spokesman for the Ministry of Labor and Social Development, said: “Undersecretaries of the ministry of labor and social affairs from member states met here at the GCC general secretariat, and will resume discussions on Monday on a number of topics including a unified draft law on the protection of disabled people.” They will also discuss important issues, such as “how GCC citizens residing in any member country would benefit from social services provided by the country to its citizens,” he said. The GCC as a common market will also be discussed, he pointed out, saying the officials will also discuss a uniform system for voluntary work in addition to a proposal presented by Bahrain on the formation of a coordination body for joint charity work. Moreover, a GCC unified strategy for social development and objectives of sustainable development for 2030, and mechanisms for implementation of recommendations of a GCC youth workshop in the social field are also under consideration for the meeting, he said. GCC officials will also discuss resolutions of the previous sessions of the GCC Supreme Council on Social Affairs, which fall within the jurisdictions of the GCC ministries of labor and social affairs. They will further explore how to put the GCC organizations and offices under the umbrella of the GCC General Secretariat, under the supervision of the GCC Ministerial Council and other committees in charge of GCC organizations and offices, which will help rationalize spending and avoid duplicity. It is also expected to ensure smooth work of GCC organizations and their integration into GCC joint efforts for common benefits, the spokesman said. The current meeting of the labor ministers will honor GCC companies, which played a leading role in the nationalization of the jobs in the GCC countries, and owners of distinguished small-scale enterprises in the member countries. The outcome from the meeting will help activate common working mechanisms and help achieve the requirements of the Gulf labor market.
news
12-11-2016
Human trafficking decreasing in Dubai: Police chief
Crimes related to human trafficking have decreased in the emirate of Dubai to six this year from 35 in 2010 due to extensive campaigns to increase the community’s awareness about the dangers of such crimes, said Lt. General Khamis Mattar Al Muzainah, Commander-in-chief of Dubai Police. Muzainah was speaking at a graduation ceremony where the first batch of 22 graduates was awarded diploma for a course on human trafficking and its prevention. ''Dubai Police pay significant attention to the issue of combating human trafficking crimes and they are teaming up with other partners and stakeholders to update training and qualification programmes within its strategy to deliver security and stability,'' he said in his address. ''The degree, the first of its kind in the Arab World, aims to qualify an elite group of government employees to handle such crimes with high professionalism and competence,'' he noted. They gained theoretical and practical skills and knowledge on mechanisms to detect and prevent crimes in human trafficking, help and protect victims, offer psychological support for them and fight all forms and manifestations of the crime. He said that 1,635 trainees had participated in 40 workshops on combating crimes related to trafficking in human beings and 16,647 people had benefited from 56 awareness lectures organised by Dubai Police's Human Trafficking Crime Control Center (HTCCC). He said Dubai Police in partnership with the National Committee to Combat Human Trafficking (NCCHT) launched two campaigns from 2013 to 2015 to educate arrivals through Dubai International Airport about the danger of the crime. Over the last two years, an awareness campaign targeted domestic helpers recruitment agencies. Addressing the ceremony, Dr. Abdul Rahim Al Awadi, Assistant Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation for Legal Affairs, the launch of the programme was a creative idea and supported the government's effort to fight the human trafficking crime. '' Seventeen cases of human trafficking was registered in 2015 under Federal Law No. (51) of 2006 on Combating Human Trafficking Crimes, an indicator of the success of the campaign launched by the government ten years ago,'' he said in his an address read on behalf of Addressing the ceremony on behalf of Dr. Anwar bin Mohammed Gargash, Minister of State for Foreign Affairs, and Chairman of NCCHT. ''The UAE's anti-human trafficking experiment has become a leading model globally,'' he added. The anti-human trafficking diploma programme includes all issues related to international agreement in human trafficking which will help officials develop techniques needed for investigation and protection of human trafficking victims. The training programme is in line with the strategy of the NCCHT that focuses on four issues - prevention, penalty, victim care and enhancing international cooperation.
news
11-11-2016
Saudi govt to settle dues with private sector companies before year-end
RIYADH: Saudi Arabia will pay by next month the money it owes private companies, a committee headed by Deputy Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman said Monday. “The council came up with a package of solutions and procedures to settle the dues that met the requirements of spending,” SPA reported after a regular meeting of the Council of Economic and Development Affairs. Solutions “will be implemented immediately and completed before December 2016,” it said, in a discussion of the delayed payments. The council discussed “the necessary procedures to pay the amounts owed to the private sector from the public treasury,” SPA said. “The payment was late due to the sharp decline in oil revenue and the measures taken by the Kingdom to reduce spending on a number of projects.” SPA added that priorities were rearranged according “to impact and efficiency,” but there had been “obstacles to implement the procedures.” The arrears have left foreign workers, chiefly in the construction sector, struggling for months while they await back wages, AFP reported. In April, the deputy crown prince announced a wide-ranging plan for economic diversification and social change in the coming years. Saudi Arabia has taken a series of measures, including subsidy cuts, reductions in Cabinet ministers’ salaries and delays in major projects. According to SPA, billions of riyals have been saved by rescheduling and modifying contracts, while “a large number” of projects were stopped, saving tens of billions more. Early last month Saudi Binladin Group said the government had transferred some payment in the previous two weeks, allowing it to cover some back wages to its remaining staff. The company had already finished payments to around 70,000 laid-off workers.
news
09-11-2016
Labor attachés to take up manpower recruitment
RIYADH — The labor attaché offices approved by the Council of Ministers to be set up in seven manpower-exporting countries will be in charge of recruitment and supervision of training centers for workers to be sent to the Kingdom, business daily Al-Eqtisadiah reported on Tuesday quoting the spokesmen of the ministries of labor and social development and foreign affairs. The Cabinet approved on Monday the setting up of labor attaché offices in Egypt, India, Pakistan, Bangladesh, the Philippines, Indonesia and Sri Lanka. Spokesman of the Ministry of Labor and Social Development Khaled Aba Al-Khail said the attaches will make efforts to further strengthen cooperation with manpower exporting countries and will represent the Kingdom on all labor issues in these countries. Aba Al-Khail also said the attachés will develop an employment mechanism for expatriates to be recruited for work in Saudi Arabia. He was of the opinion that the appointment of labor attachés would facilitate coordination with labor-exporting countries, ensure the recruitment of qualified labor and make workers more aware of the Kingdom’s culture, customs and traditions. “The labor attaches will work closely with the Saudi embassy in the recruiting country and the Foreign Ministry on all issues related to foreign manpower recruitment,” he said. Ambassador Osama Nukali, spokesman of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, said the embassy, which represents the ministry, will undertake diplomatic coordination with the host country. “The embassies act as a diplomatic umbrella for all cultural, commercial, military and labor attachés,” he said.
news
08-11-2016
KSA to have labor attaches in 7 worker exporting countries
RIYADH — The Council of Ministers on Monday approved the setting up of labor attache offices at Saudi embassies in Egypt, India, Philippines, Pakistan, Bangladesh, Indonesia and Sri Lanka. The weekly session of the Cabinet, chaired by Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques King Salman, at Al-Yamama Palace in Riyadh, took this decision after reviewing the recommendation of the Permanent Committee at the Council of Economic and Development Affairs. In a statement to the Saudi Press Agency following the session, Minister of State, Member of Cabinet and Acting Minister of Culture and Information Essam Bin Saad said that the Ministry of Labor and Social Development, in coordination with the ministries of foreign and civil service, has to fix the number of Saudi and non-Saudi employees at the offices to help labor attaches. The Cabinet also entrusted these three ministries to define the duties of the offices. In July, Saudi Gazette had reported that the Ministry of Labor and Social Development was planning to appoint labor attachés in countries from where the Kingdom hires expat workers. “The ministry thinks that labor attachés can restrict recruitment brokers and regulate the recruitment business. “The ministry hopes to clean the recruitment market off brokers and offer a fully organized recruitment market,” a source said at that time. Meanwhile, King Salman briefed the Cabinet on the outcome of his telephone conversation with Lebanese President Michel Aoun and his assertion that the Kingdom would stand by Lebanon and support its unity and integrity. The Cabinet also emphasized what was mentioned in the final statement issued by the Executive Committee of the Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) at the level of foreign ministers which was held to discuss the dangerous development of launching of the ballistic missile by Houthi militias toward Makkah. The OIC meeting noted that Allah Almighty has honored Saudi Arabia to bear full responsibility for the service and care of the Two Holy Mosques, as well as the holy sites and pilgrims since its foundation. The meeting also underscored that the Kingdom would never be negligent in fulfilling this sacred trust. It said that who are supporting this transgressing group and providing it with weapons and smuggling ballistic missiles and weapons are considered a firm partner in the attack on the sanctities of the Islamic world, a clear party in sowing sectarian strife and a key supporter of terrorism. While welcoming the Kingdom’s signing of the Paris climate change agreement at UN headquarters in New York on Friday, the Cabinet said that the move shows the Kingdom’s prime concern for climate change as well as fighting its causes and preventing all types of emissions that contribute to climate change. The Cabinet also underscored the need to ensure the provision of safe and reliable sources of energy. Essam said the Cabinet approved two draft agreements: One pertaining to border and the second for combating crimes between Saudi Arabia and Qatar, signed earlier in Doha. It also endorsed an agreement for cooperation and news exchange between Saudi Press Agency and Qatar News Agency. The Council authorized deputy crown prince, second deputy premier and minister of defense, or his deputy to discuss and sign a memorandum of understanding in military cooperation with Sudan’s ministry of defense and then present it to the cabinet for completing legal procedures.
news
07-11-2016
Changes in Nitaqat program approved
Jeddah — Minister of Labor and Social Development Mufrej Al-Haqbani has approved amendments in the Nitaqat Saudization program for the classification of various establishments. Firms with one to five workers will be renamed from very small firms to small category A. Those with 6 to 49 workers will be renamed from small firms to small firms category B. The new classifications will come into effect from Dec. 11. Spokesman of the ministry Khlaed Abalkhair said the amendments are in keeping with the development of the balanced Nitaqat program. The ministry had approved earlier a new classification for medium size firms by dividing them into three categories as per the number of workers. According to the new classification, medium size firms under category A will have 50 to 99 workers, category B will have 100 to 199 workers and category C will have 199 to 499 workers. The balanced Nitaqat program will register points scored by each firm according to five factors: the percentage of Saudization, the average salaries of Saudi workers, the percentage of Saudi women workers, job sustainability for Saudis, the percentage of Saudis with high salaries.
news
03-11-2016
Qatar pledges ‘100% compliance’ on key labor reform
DOHA — Qatar said it expects “100 percent compliance” from businesses by the end of 2016 on a labor reform introduced to ensure the country’s vast migrant workforce receive their salaries on time. Government figures released in Doha on Wednesday to mark the one-year anniversary of the introduction of the Wage Protection System (WPS) show that 1.8 million — around 85 percent — of Qatar’s 2.1 million workforce are now paid electronically. That works out at around 37,000 companies. But a senior Labor Ministry official told AFP that all companies will sign up to the scheme by the end of December. “Our aim is to have 100 percent compliance by the end of the year,” said Mohammed Ali Al-Meer, director of Qatar’s labor inspection department. “We have a commitment from the (remaining) 15 percent, we have contacted them.” The WPS was introduced on Nov. 2 last year by the 2022 football World Cup host in an attempt to improve labor conditions following widespread international criticism of Qatar’s treatment of migrant workers. Failure to pay salaries on time, especially for low-waged blue collar workers, was one of the biggest complaints voiced by rights groups against companies in the energy-rich Gulf state. A 2013 academic study, “Portrait of Low-Income Migrants in Contemporary Qatar,” found that around a fifth of migrant workers were “sometimes, rarely or never” paid on time. Bosses of companies who do not pay staff on time face fines of up to 6,000 Qatari riyals ($1,650) for every worker who did not receive their salary, and up to one month in jail, under the WPS. Labor officials said 385 violations had been recorded by companies still not paying workers on time in the past 12 months, though it was unclear whether any bosses had been imprisoned. Along with the figures, a statement from Labor Minister Issa Bin Saad Al-Jafali Al-Nuaimi on Wednesday said WPS had ensured “greater protections for workers”. The reform has been largely welcomed by critics, but there have been complaints that the government dragged its heels in introducing the system — it was initially delayed for several months — and has not been strong enough in enforcing compliance, a charge denied by Doha. “The ministry is tough enough dealing with companies that don’t comply with the WPS system,” insisted Meer. Despite this, problems still exist. In September it was reported that as many as 400 migrant staff working for an electrical company in Qatar had gone unpaid for up to four months. Mustafa Qadri, a specialist researcher with human rights consultancy group Equidem, said the WPS had “shown the way forward” but further labor reform was needed. “Most migrant workers continue to pay large recruitment fees to come to Qatar that leave them heavily indebted,” he said. “They still require their sponsor’s permission to change jobs or leave the country. And, critically, Qatar’s labor system still struggles to ensure companies respect minimum labor standards.” — AP
news
02-11-2016
Common insurance system to ease labor movement in GCC countries
Minister of Labor and Social Development Mufrej Al-Haqabani with other officials at a meeting of the heads of GCC civil retirement and social insurance departments in Riyadh on Tuesday. (AN photo) RIYADH: Minister of Labor and Social Development Mufrej Al-Haqabani confirmed that developing a common system to extend insurance protection for Gulf citizens working in any of the GCC’s countries will encourage the mobility of labor forces between these countries, and realize economic and social stability in accordance with the strategies of the Gulf Cooperation Council countries. Minister Al-Haqabani was speaking on Tuesday during the inauguration of the sixteenth meeting of the heads of GCC civil retirement and social insurance departments at the Four Seasons Hotel in Riyadh. He said that tuning and adjusting the insurance protection among Gulf countries represents a fundamental pillar in the Gulf joint action in order to encourage the labor force in the region to move with ease and freedom to work in any of the Gulf states with obtaining the adequate protection either in his home country or any of the other countries of the Gulf region. The minister added: “The interdependent systems of insurance face some problems, but it’s important to develop the working mechanisms of these systems, benefit from international experiences, and develop mechanisms of improvement and follow-up. There are numerous ways we can utilize to improve the financial capacity of social insurance agencies and institutions in the region.” He emphasized the importance of devising innovative solutions that should contribute to boosting insurance benefits, and realizing a financial balance. He hoped this meeting will come up with new ideas and visions to enhance loyalty to the private sector, and promote ways to help Gulf workers have access to labor markets in the region. The governor of the General Organization for Social Insurance (GOSI), Suleiman bin Abdul Rahman Gwaiz, said the 16th meeting of GCC civil retirement and social insurance departments comes within the joint cooperation between civil and social security retirement institutions in GCC states to provide insurance protection to the nationals of the Gulf region. He noted that the meeting would discuss developments in the application of the common system to provide insurance protection to nationals of GCC countries working in any member state in the council other than their own. “The meeting will also follow up on the implementation of the decisions taken in the previous meetings, and will review the report on the results of the work of the standing technical committee for civil retirement and social security,” explained the governor of GOSI. Gwaiz added the meeting will strengthen ways of cooperation between retirement and social insurance institutions in the GCC countries to extend the social protection system approved during the higher council meeting in Bahrain in 2004, and its application in 2006. “The system mandates each country to extend insurance protection for its citizens upon working in any Gulf country in the public or private sectors,” he explained. He revealed that the number of subscribers in the system in 2010 was 18,000 people. “This increased to 28,000 current subscribers and beneficiaries,” he added. Abdullah bin Juma Al-Shibli, the assistant secretary-general for economic and development affairs of the secretariat of the GCC, said the system of insurance protection is a testimony to the joint cooperation between the Gulf states and the blessed achievements made over its course. “This meeting comes to complement the previous achievements, and to approve further joint projects and programs to realize the goals and aspirations of the leaders of GCC countries in terms of devising ways to provide comfort, stability, and security for Gulf citizens. Work is in progress to boost the services provided for Gulf citizens in the field of retirement and social protection. The meeting will also discuss the topics listed on the agenda, including the extension of the social protection system,” explained Al-Shibli.
news
02-11-2016
16 Saudi companies register for distance employment
Jeddah — Up to 16 companies have registered with the Ministry of Labor and Social Development to hire employees who work from home, according to General Manager of the Human Resource Development Fund Abdul Kareem Al-Nijaidi. This will help women and special needs people work from home, Nijaidi told a human resource forum here on Tuesday. Distance employment will include six programs such as employment in programming, translation and e-business among others in Madinah, Qasim, Hail, Al-Ahsa, Jazan and Najran. Nijaidi also said that working women may enjoy nursery and transportation facilities after spending four months on the job in Riyadh, Hail and Asir. By 2020, the program is expected to serve 150,000 working women in all regions of the Kingdom. He said the ministry has also launched a special support initiative for small businesses which are offered SR3,000 each month for two years. Nijaidi said a total of SR11 million was earmarked to support the employment of Saudis in the telecommunication sector. According to ministry figures, it has trained 36,937 employees and 129,534 students. Nijaidi said they want to increase from the current 300,000 to one million trained persons soon. He said there are 81,000 job opportunities and 71,000 employers looking for qualified candidates. There are 290,000 Saudis registered on Hafiz.
news
31-10-2016
126 recruitment offices stopped from recruiting from 8 countries
JEDDAH — The Ministry of Labor and Social Development has stopped 126 recruitment offices from recruiting domestic workers from the 8 approved countries due to their violations of the regulations and rules of recruitment activities. Khalid Aba Al-Khail, the spokesman of the ministry, said that they follow individuals and offices that operate illegally in recruiting domestic workers in the Kingdom. Currently Saudis may recruit domestic workers from Bangladesh, India, Pakistan, Philippines, Vietnam, Sir Lanka, Tanzania and Niger. The cost of the domestic helps from these countries range from SR8,000 to SR22,000. The employer may request having a maid, nanny, nurse, driver or worker. The violating individuals or offices might be accused of human trafficking and their businesses closed and they may also be made to pay fines of SR10,000. The ministry called on the public to deal only with certified offices, which are on Musaned online portal. The ministry also did not renew the licenses to 6 offices and it canceled the license for 7 other offices. Lately the ministry had acted on some 7,000 complaints against the recruitment offices. These complaints range from the manipulating of the prices and not sticking to the agreed time to provide services to their clients. In the same context the ministry returned SR1.7 million to Saudis from various regions, who were not provided with the services promised by the recruitment offices. According to Musaned system of the Ministry of Labor and Social Development, the domestic workers have the right to get 9 hours of rest a day and also have weekend based on the agreement with the sponsor. The system also obliges the sponsor to provide health care for the domestic workers. The worker has also the right for a paid sick leave for no more than 30 days a year. The domestic worker has also the right for one month vacation after staying for two years with his sponsor. Also the domestic worker has the right to get a bonus if he/she stays with the employer for 4 continuous years. The sponsor has the right to have a trial period that does not exceed 90 days in which he can check the effectiveness of the domestic worker and his/her behavior. The contract is in three copies one stays with the recruitment office, one with the employer and a third with the domestic worker.
news
27-10-2016
Training stressed for improved Nitaqat to succeed
The new Saudization system comes in line with Vision 2030 and is expected to realize the objectives of the National Transformation Program 2020. (SPA) RIYADH: Various sectors of the Kingdom have expressed optimism regarding the announced launching of the balanced (Mawzoon) Nitaqat system on Dec. 11. However, they underscored the necessity of training for the success of the Saudization program, which has drawn the attention of many concerned individuals who are willing to help. Last year, author and Islamic scholar Dr. Mohsin Sheikh Al-Hassan hosted a show, “Jobs on Air,” on Saudi-owned television channel, Al-Danah, in support of the program. Over 100,000 jobs were generated for young Saudis. “The enhanced Nitaqat is good. But it’s a fact that many of those seeking jobs need to undergo training,” said Khalil Al-Jehani, a lawyer who manages his own law firm in the Saudi capital. He added that “the Saudization program may be running at full speed but it gets stuck because job applicants lack the necessary skills for their jobs.” “If Saudis seeking jobs undergo sufficient training, they’ll perform well. They’ll not also count the hours being on the job because they love what they’re doing,” he said. He added that at the end of the day, the enhanced Nitaqat may not achieve its aim under the Vision 2030 plan of the government if training is not undertaken. In this connection, the Technical Training Institute (TVTC) has been doing its share. It has been conducting training among Saudi youths in various sectors such as telecommunications, management, tourism, and others. In a recent statement, TVTC said that it had rehabilitated more than 37,633 Saudis in the telecommunications sector with the support of the Human Resources Development Fund (HRDF). The TVTC added that it had also signed an agreement with Maaden to train 550 youths in the Northern Border Region. After their training, they will work in Maaden’s projects in the region. Manie Al-Khelewy, managing director of Saudi Advanced Services Co. (SAS), said that the reported implementation of an improved Nitaqat is good. “It’s a shot in the arm as far as Saudis are concerned, especially the youth,” he said, adding that it will go a long way in solving unemployment in the Kingdom. The ministry aims to reduce unemployment rate from 11.7 percent to 9.3 percent by the year 2020. However, he said that the enhanced Nitaqat should be good enough for Saudi employees so that they can do their jobs efficiently. “Under the enhanced Nitaqat, they should have a stable job, good working conditions and a good salary because they spend money on food, clothes, transportation, among others. A car won’t run without gasoline,” he said. In a recent press conference at the Riyadh Chamber of Commerce and Industry (RCCI), the Ministry of Labor and Social Development announced that the improved Nitaqat is an extension of the existing one. Deputy Labor Minister Ahmed Al-Humaidan told the press that the enhanced Nitaqat had additional features, in which the ministry is looking at the percentage of Saudi females in an organization. The more females there are in an organization, the more points it can get from the system. The ministry is also looking into the average income and average wages of Saudis. Moreover, it’s also looking for job stability and higher pay for Saudis. Speaking on the occasion, Deputy Minister for Policy Dr. Ahmed Qattan said that the current Nitaqat had achieved its purpose “but it has to be enhanced to keep in step with development.” The new Saudization system comes in line with Vision 2030 and is expected to realize the objectives of the National Transformation Program 2020.
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26-10-2016
Saudi women launch drive to bring down maids’ wages
JEDDAH — A group of Saudi women has launched a campaign to bring down the exorbitantly high wages of domestic helpers. The move follows a series of successful boycott campaigns launched by Saudis against traders and telecom companies for raising the prices of essential commodities and services. Saudi women have formed a group to stop the monopoly of housemaids who work illegally after running away from their sponsors. Although the wages of housemaids have been standardized at SR2,000 a month, the campaigners feel that even SR2,000 is a high salary and it should be brought down to SR1,000, especially when Saudi families’ income has dwindled as a result of austerity measures. They are asking Saudi families not to pay salaries higher than SR1,000 to their maids. The government has cut ministers’ salaries by 20 percent and scaled back allowances for public sector employees. The measures, disclosed in a Cabinet statement last month, constitute the first pay cuts for government employees, who make up about two-thirds of working Saudis. The measures included cancellation of some bonuses and financial benefits.
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24-10-2016
Special labor courts launched
RIYADH: Following three strings of postponements during the past few years, the Ministry of Justice and the Supreme Judicial Council have taken new steps to launch the long-awaited special labor courts in Saudi Arabia. The steps were initiated by naming 99 assistant judges to undergo training courses on solving labor disputes, and other labor issues and litigation, in addition to assigning 80 judges to assume their judicial tasks after being trained to work in these new labor courts which are expected to begin functioning during this current year, according to Justice Ministry sources. Walid Al-Samaani, minister of justice and president of the Supreme Judicial Council, approved the initial list of assistant judges to be trained in judicial works through a three-month course pending their appointment. They will be appointed at five labor courts which will be launched in Jeddah, Riyadh, Damman, Makkah and Madinah, in addition to labor dispute settlement offices affiliated with other courts across the Kingdom. The Ministry of Justice and the Supreme Judicial Council assigned 80 judges on duty to be transferred later to the labor courts. Meanwhile, the president of the Supreme Judicial Council canceled a previous decision to mandate the training mission of assistant judges to the labor committees. The Ministry of Justice last week decided to task the training mission to the Higher Judicial Institute under the supervision of the judicial training center. The number of labor cases received by the initial commission for labor disputes last year stood at 9,956, of which 4,241 involved Saudi citizens, a rate of 42.6 percent, with the remaining 5,715 cases involving non-Saudis, a rate of 57.4 percent. The number of cases involving Saudis which were considered and settled stood at 3,714 cases. Non-official sources estimated the number of cases to be referred to the labor courts to stand at 20,000.
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22-10-2016
Saudi, Indian ministers hold talks to help laid-off workers return home .
RIYADH: Deputy Minister of Labor and Social Development Ahmed Al-Humaidan held a "productive meeting" with visiting Indian Minister of State for External Affairs V. K. Singh in Riyadh on Thursday to help laid-off Indian workers to return home. Anil Nautiyal, first secretary for community welfare at the Indian Embassy, told Arab News on Friday that the two leaders met in Riyadh to facilitate the return of these nationals to India. “Singh also thanked the Saudi government for their full cooperation in solving the problem,” he said. Commenting on his Riyadh visit, Singh tweeted: "In Riyadh to solve problems of our workers. Had positive discussions with vice minister labor.” Commenting on the outcome of the meeting, Nautiyal said: “In a positive development, the first batch of laid off workers from Saad Group in Dammam were flown back to India on Thursday night. The next batch of about 120 workers are expected to fly back home to India in a day or two." A total of 1,740 workers have been sent home by the embassy in last two months, he said, noting that the good work of the embassy has been acknowledged by Indian External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj, who tweeted: "Indian embassy deserves appreciation for doing outstanding work.” Indian Ambassador Ahmed Javed also accompanied the visiting minister during the meeting. Singh flew back home at the conclusion of the talks on Friday. Like other expatriate workers, hundreds of Indians working in the Kingdom lost their jobs after their employers went out of business due to financial constraints. Because of this, the two governments intervened in August to help laid-off workers from companies such as the Binladen Group and Saudi Oger. Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques King Salman has directed the Minister for Labor and Social Development Mufrej Al-Haqabani to take all necessary measures to solve the issues facing Indian workers in this regard
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21-10-2016
Non-governmental organizations can register to operate legally
JEDDAH: The Ministry of Labor and Social Development said that new organizations can register themselves according to the NGO Law that allows organizations and societies to operate legally in the Kingdom. The law allows for establishing organizations according to 10 main classifications that break down to 24 sub-classifications that range between sports, culture, science, guidance and environment, to cover areas that were never allowed in the Kingdom. The ministry said that these classifications include organizations which aim to enhance the social lives of people with limited income, push them to achieve development, and help them overcome their neediness by becoming productive. The new law includes new developments and features that ensure flexibility for members of society. In addition, the law includes main subjects such as culture, entertainment, arts, education and research, health, social and human services, the environment and wildlife protection, development and housing, advocacy and support (legal services and public safety), philanthropic organizations, advocacy, counseling and religious education, and professional and scientific organizations. The law includes all non-profit groups that have an ongoing organizational structure to achieve charity, or any of the other fields mentioned above. Family and civil funds are considered a kind of civil institutions. Regulations state that each fund needs to be governed by a stricture.
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21-10-2016
PM urges ministry to speed up Qatarization of jobs
Doha: Government officials should swiftly finalize their plan to “appoint Qatari citizens in jobs occupied by foreigners,” the country’s prime minister has said. According to QNA, Sheikh Abdullah bin Nasser Al Thani added that Qataris must meet the necessary requirements for such positions. Al Thani raised the issue recently while speaking to the Ministry of Administrative Development, Labor & Social Affairs (MADLSA). He didn’t specify whether the jobs were to be in the public or private sector. But last year, officials did pledge to further nationalize government positions so that some nine out of 10 such jobs would be held by Qataris by 2026.
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21-10-2016
Labour law reforms awareness drive starts:
Qatar: A two-month awareness campaign to promote wider understanding of the planned changes to Qatar's labour laws gets under way this week. The initiative, led by the Ministry of Interior and the Ministry of Administrative Development, Labour and Social Affairs, seeks to educate employers and members of Qatar's expatriate community about their rights and obligations under Law No. 21 of 2015, ahead of the reform's implementation in December this year. Commenting on the campaign, the Minister of Administrative Development, Labour and Social Affairs HE Dr Issa bin Saad al Jafali al Nuaimi, said:"The significant changes to Qatar's labour laws in December will require employers, embassies, Qatar Chamber and other official entities to understand how to comply with the new legal framework around the labour laws. Workers will also need to be aware of their rights and obligations under the new law."
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20-10-2016
Several workers injured in Aramco oil facility blaze
DAMMAM – Several workers were injured in a fire at a Saudi Aramco crude oil facility near Riyadh on Wednesday, the Saudi Press Agency reported quoting the company sources. The Saudi Aramco emergency response teams, in cooperation with the Civil Defense, were able to contain the fire, SPA said. “Saudi Aramco regrets to report that several workers were injured as a result of a fire at 3 p.m. at a crude oil facility in Alwsea and all are being treated,” it said in a post on its Twitter account. “The fire is under control. Company’s operations are not impacted,” it added. Aramco did not immediately give an exact number of those hurt but Al-Riyadh newspaper said 17 people were admitted to King Abdulaziz Medical City under the National Guard. Three of the injured were receiving treatment in intensive care unit. “Most of them sustained minor injuries and a number of them have been discharged,” the newspaper said adding that no cases of death reported.
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19-10-2016
UAE opens new consular, visa centre in New Delhi
The United Arab Emirates (UAE) opened a centre for consular services and visa-issuance, the sixth outside the UAE, in New Delhi. It would process visa applications and further facilitate and speed up the entry of Indian citizens and residents of the sub-continent to the UAE via e-gates at the country's points of entry. The consular section and the visa centre are aimed at enhancing consular co-operation between the UAE and India, delivering better customer service, and streamlining the entry of Indian workers, said Under-Secretary at the UAE Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Co-operation, Mohammed Mer Al Raisi, while inaugurating the services in the presence of Lieutenant Governor of Delhi Najeeb Jung, Assistant Under-Secretary at the UAE Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Co-operation, UAE Ambassador to India Dr. Ahmed Abdulrahman Al Banna, Director of the Consular Section in New Delhi Rehab Al Mansouri, and a number of senior Indian officials. Thanking the Indian government for its constructive efforts in promoting bilateral relations with the UAE, the official said ties with India are witnessing significant progress in several spheres. The new facilities were an important achievement for improving bilateral relations between the two countries, Jung noted. The system used at the centre is one the most efficient in the world and with the global standards it upholds, it will shorten the time required for processing visa applications, he said while thanking the UAE for the positive initiative. Indians willing to apply for a visa to work in the UAE can present their documents, biometrics, and results of medical checks issued by accredited medical facilities. The centre will verify the applicant's original passports, biometrics including Iris scans and face prints, medical fitness certificates issued by 10 centres in New Delhi that are accredited by the GCC Approved Medical Centres Association, or GAMCA, proving that the applicant is free from transmittable diseases. The procedures will save the costs of recruitment, quarantine and deportation, and improve customer service, as they are aimed at providing excellent consular services fulfilling internationally recognised standards as well as the UAE Cabinet’s seven-star service standards. Through the new centre, the UAE foreign ministry provides all related administrative services in co-operation with the Ministry of Interior using a fully integrated electronic system within an advanced framework of security controls aimed at achieving maximum protection for visa and entry procedures.
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18-10-2016
Govt staff to get salaries as per Solar Hijri calendar
RIYADH — Government employees will now get their salaries on the fifth day of each Solar Hijri month, according to a source at the Ministry of Finance. The ministry’s announcement has caused confusion among citizens as many social media users began inquiring about the exact date when they will receive their next salary and what exactly is the Solar Hijri calendar. The Kingdom mainly follows the Hijri calendar in most of its affairs and considers the Hijri calendar as its official calendar. However, various sectors in the Kingdom have been following the Gregorian calendar since 1975. In an attempt to unify the dates between sectors, the ministry decided to distribute the salaries of government employees according to the Solar Hijri calendar, said the source. The Solar Hijri (SH) calendar is considered more accurate than the Gregorian calendar as it follows astronomical calculations rather than mathematical rules. The Solar Hijri calendar corresponds to each of the 12 zodiac signs. The first six months of the Solar Hijri calendar have 31 days, the next five months of the calendar have 30 days and the last month of the calendar has 29 days in regular years and 30 days in leap years. So, based on the Solar Hijri calendar, the salaries for the current month will be dispensed on the fifth day of the Cancer zodiac sign which coincides with Oct. 28, said the source. The salaries for next month will be issued on Nov. 26, he added. The fifth day of the Scorpion sign for this year corresponds to Muharram 26 and Oct. 28. The fifth day of the Sagittarius sign for this year corresponds to Safar 26 and Nov. 26. The fifth day of the Capricorn sign for this year corresponds to Rabi Awal 27 and Dec. 26. The fifth day of the Aquarius sign for this year corresponds to Rabi Thani 27 and Jan. 25, said the source. The fifth day of the Pisces sign for this year corresponds to Jamadi Awal 27 and Feb. 24. The fifth day of the Aries sign for this year corresponds to Jamadi Akhir 26 and March 25. The fifth day of the Taurus sign for this year corresponds to Rajab 28 and April 25. The fifth day of the Gemini sign for this year corresponds to Shaaban 30 and May 26. The fifth day of the Cancer sign for this year corresponds to Shawal 2 and June 26. The fifth day of the Leo sign for this year corresponds to Dhul Qidah 4 and July 27. The fifth day of the Virgo sign for this year corresponds to Dhul Hijjah 5 and Aug. 27. The fifth day of the Libra sign corresponds to Muharram 5 of 1439 and Sept. 26 of 2017. We are in 1395 Solar Hijri year.
news
18-10-2016
Govt staff to get salaries as per Solar Hijri calendar
RIYADH — Government employees will now get their salaries on the fifth day of each Solar Hijri month, according to a source at the Ministry of Finance. The ministry’s announcement has caused confusion among citizens as many social media users began inquiring about the exact date when they will receive their next salary and what exactly is the Solar Hijri calendar. The Kingdom mainly follows the Hijri calendar in most of its affairs and considers the Hijri calendar as its official calendar. However, various sectors in the Kingdom have been following the Gregorian calendar since 1975. In an attempt to unify the dates between sectors, the ministry decided to distribute the salaries of government employees according to the Solar Hijri calendar, said the source. The Solar Hijri (SH) calendar is considered more accurate than the Gregorian calendar as it follows astronomical calculations rather than mathematical rules. The Solar Hijri calendar corresponds to each of the 12 zodiac signs. The first six months of the Solar Hijri calendar have 31 days, the next five months of the calendar have 30 days and the last month of the calendar has 29 days in regular years and 30 days in leap years. So, based on the Solar Hijri calendar, the salaries for the current month will be dispensed on the fifth day of the Cancer zodiac sign which coincides with Oct. 28, said the source. The salaries for next month will be issued on Nov. 26, he added. The fifth day of the Scorpion sign for this year corresponds to Muharram 26 and Oct. 28. The fifth day of the Sagittarius sign for this year corresponds to Safar 26 and Nov. 26. The fifth day of the Capricorn sign for this year corresponds to Rabi Awal 27 and Dec. 26. The fifth day of the Aquarius sign for this year corresponds to Rabi Thani 27 and Jan. 25, said the source. The fifth day of the Pisces sign for this year corresponds to Jamadi Awal 27 and Feb. 24. The fifth day of the Aries sign for this year corresponds to Jamadi Akhir 26 and March 25. The fifth day of the Taurus sign for this year corresponds to Rajab 28 and April 25. The fifth day of the Gemini sign for this year corresponds to Shaaban 30 and May 26. The fifth day of the Cancer sign for this year corresponds to Shawal 2 and June 26. The fifth day of the Leo sign for this year corresponds to Dhul Qidah 4 and July 27. The fifth day of the Virgo sign for this year corresponds to Dhul Hijjah 5 and Aug. 27. The fifth day of the Libra sign corresponds to Muharram 5 of 1439 and Sept. 26 of 2017. We are in 1395 Solar Hijri year.
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17-10-2016
Minimum salary for visit visas raised to KD 200
KUWAIT: The interior ministry has increased the minimum wage required for a foreigner to issue visit visas for relatives, only a few days after the state approved a decision to raise the salary required for expatriate workers to sponsor their wives and children, in a move said to help curb an increase in the country’s expat population. An expat must now have a minimum salary of KD 200 to apply for a visit visa for his wife or children, said Maj Gen Talal Maarafi, director general of the interior ministry’s residency affairs department. The previous minimum wage was KD 150. Meanwhile, the minimum salary must be KD 300 for an expat applying for a visa for a sibling or any other relative, except for parents, whose age must not exceed 50 years, Maarafi explained. The interior ministry last year set the duration of a visit visa issued for a wife or child to three months, while visit visas for relatives were restricted to one month. Last Wednesday, Deputy Prime Minister and Interior Minister Sheikh Mohammad Al-Khaled Al-Sabah issued a decision amending the foreign residency law to raise the salary requirement for dependent visas from KD 250 to KD 450, a move expected to cut the number of foreign families in the country. The two most recent steps come as Kuwait scrambles for solutions to address a demographic imbalance problem that is widely blamed for the country’s deteriorating public services and infrastructure and unemployment among other issues. “We have 2,670,000 expats, and if we do not take such measures, this number will double in a few years, creating a bigger problem,” Maarafi told Al-Rai daily. “How can a person whose monthly salary is KD 250 deal with the high cost of living and meet all the demands of his family?” Maarafi said in defense of the interior ministry’s decision. “It is illogical, and keeping it unchanged means costing the state money and commitment towards unproductive manpower.” Maarafi reassured that the decision will not be enforced retroactively, and will only affect dependent visa applications submitted after the decision became effective. Dependent visas issued before the decision can still be renewed based on the old salary, and the same goes for issuing visas for newborns, he added. Only male expatriates are allowed to sponsor a family, according to Kuwait’s residency laws. The average salary of a male expat in the private sector is only KD 247, according to the latest statistics. In case the husband dies, a working mother can sponsor her children, provided that her monthly salary meets the KD 450 minimum requirement, Maarafi explained. Some exceptions will also be made on humanitarian grounds regarding spouses and children, he added. The interior ministry’s recent measures are directly linked to the government’s plan to readjust Kuwait’s population, which is currently dominated by expats at nearly 70 percent, according to sources familiar with the issue. Meanwhile, the same sources who spoke to Al-Rai on the condition of anonymity admitted that a proposal to reduce or set a quota for the number of expat communities in Kuwait will take time to implement, adding that any step in this regard would be taken on a gradual basis in order to minimize any potential negative effects that might happen as a result. “[Rushing the decision] could create confusion in the state’s economic and labor market fields, in addition to the effect a drastic reduction could have on Kuwait’s relations with other countries,” said the sources. The Egyptian government last week urged Kuwait to retract a decision it recently made to reduce the monthly rent allowance paid to expat teachers in public schools from KD 150 to KD 60, which affects nearly 13,000 Egyptian teachers working in the state. Egyptian Minister of Manpower Mohammad Saafan was even quoted in the Kuwaiti press as saying that the ‘crisis’ resulting from this decision will be presented for discussion during the Arab Labor Organization’s meeting late next week in Qatar. Minister of Social Affairs and Labor and Minister of State for Planning and Development Hind Al-Subaih reiterated as well that rectifying Kuwait’s demographic imbalance remains part of the government’s plans, yet its implementation needs “prolonged periods of time”. In other news, Maarafi announced that the interior ministry will implement the interior minister’s decision pertaining with rectifying the situa
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15-10-2016
Govt looking into hiring household workers from more countries
JEDDAH: The Ministry of Labor and Social Development said it is studying the possibility of opening the household labor market to more countries, including those that were previously barred by the government for security reasons. Ministry spokesman Khaled Aba Al-Khail said the government is also working on signing more agreements to diversify choices for citizens based on their needs. Announcements will soon be made in this regard, he said. As for countries from which household workers are permitted to be recruited, he said the labor market is open in the Kingdom, and gives citizens the choice of selection recruitment from among various countries. Countries currently open for recruitment are the Philippines, India, Sri Lanka, Vietnam, as well as a number of Asian and African countries. “The ministry constantly explores alternatives that are appropriate for the nature of Saudi society, and the ministry accordingly puts the outline and framework in place with exporting countries in the form of signed agreements,” said the spokesman. He attributed the causes of the recruitment crises from time to time to the improvement of economies in exporting countries, as well as social issues in those countries, and that fact that some Asian countries like Hong Kong and Malaysia, also recruit workers from those countries. The chairman of the committee on recruitment offices in Jeddah, Yahya Al-Maqbool, said there are ongoing negotiations between the coordinating committee, which includes officials from the Ministry of Labor and Social Development and a number of owners of recruitment offices, to find solutions to meet the labor market needs for household workers. He stressed the importance of reducing the number of visas to bring it in line with supply and demand, as there are many more visas than there are household workers. He also said that most offices work mostly on recruiting household workers from the Philippines and Bangladesh, and proposed a review and reopening of the doors to importing labor from larger countries, like Indonesia, Thailand and Ethiopia. He said there are recruitment offices that do not comply with the fees prescribed by the ministry for recruitment of household workers, which were set at SR7,000. Prices in the market can reach as high as SR14,000, he said, attributing this to higher costs in labor-exporting countries. He said the set prices are no longer realistic as they were fixed years ago. This is specially the case as there is a larger demand for workers and citizens are willing to pay higher amounts. He said this practice is a violation, with penalties for violating offices including closure, noting that prices should not exceed the set amounts as any increase will force other offices to match these higher prices as well.
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11-10-2016
GCC uniform deal on VAT, selective tax a step closer
RIYADH – The Council of Ministers on Monday authorized minister of finance or his deputy to discuss two draft uniform agreements on value added tax (VAT) and selective tax for Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) states. Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques King Salman chaired the weekly session of the Cabinet at Al-Yamama Palace in Riyadh. According to the Saudi Press Agency, the agreements shall be discussed within the framework of the GCC financial and economic committee, and sign them before forwarding the final versions to complete the legal procedures. In a statement to SPA, Minister of Commerce and Investment and Acting Minister of Culture and Information Dr. Majed Al-Qasabi said that the Council also authorized president of King Abdullah City for Atomic and Renewable Energy or his deputy to discuss with the Indian Ministry of New and Renewable Energy a draft agreement for cooperation in the renewable energy between the city and the ministry, and sign it before forwarding the final version to complete the legal procedures. Al-Qasabi said the Council approved signing of agreement with Venezuela to avoid double taxation and tax evasion. The Cabinet lauded the outcome of the Gulf Shield 1 Exercise, conducted by the Eastern Fleet of the Saudi Royal Naval Forces in the Arabian Gulf and Oman Sea waters across the Strait of Hormuz, as well as the joint aerial drill called Al-Jazeerah Eagle in the United Arab Emirates with the participation of air forces of the GCC member states. The Council commended the enhanced cooperation and upgrading of the combating and operational preparedness of the GCC forces that have been achieved through the exercise. With regard to the Kingdom’s participation in the annual joint meetings of the World Bank and the IMF and the meeting of the G20 which were held in Washington, Al-Qasabi said, the Cabinet highlighted the government’s efforts in implementing economic reforms as part of the National Transformation Program to achieve the Kingdom’s Vision 2030. The Council underscored that the application of these reforms would yield a strong, balanced and sustainable economic growth and activate the role of the private sector in enhancing job opportunities and spurring economic growth. The Cabinet reiterated the legitimate right of the countries in the Middle East region for the peaceful use of nuclear energy in accordance with the standards of the International Agency for Atomic Energy, besides highlighting the importance of implementing the agreement on barring the use of chemical weapons in Syria. The Council also reaffirmed the position of Arab countries to stand by the side of the Syrian people and exert all possible efforts at the international level to provide safe havens to deliver relief supplies for civilians and demanding the international community to break its silence towards the crimes committed by the Syrian regime. Al-Qasabi said the Cabinet was briefed on a number of domestic matters, including the agreement signed by the Ministry of Housing to construct more than 10,000 residential units in Tarout and Safwa towns in Qatif region in the Eastern Province, and signing of the memorandum of understanding with Bulgaria in the fields of tourism and heritage.
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10-10-2016
Ministry signs agreement to regulate NGOs
UNAIZAH — The Ministry of Labor and Social Development has signed a draft agreement to develop and govern the administrative and financial affairs of the non-governmental organizations. The signing took place at a ministry-affiliated center in Unaizah in Al-Qassim. The draft agreement aims to develop an assessment process for non-profits, train field officers and govern the NGOs in order to ensure transparency and accountability. It is expected that the ministry will implement regulations for NGOs and charitable foundations in the next few weeks. The ministry will launch training programs that target field officers in various regions and hold several meetings to increase awareness of those in charge of running the organizations. The ministry had announced earlier that it would soon implement a newly-formed classification system for NGOs to regulate the sector and was making the assessment data available to the public to take part in the monitoring the activities of charitable organizations. The new system would motivate the nonprofit organizations to apply the best practices as resources will be reallocated and redistributed in the voluntary sector based on competency and efficiency.
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07-10-2016
GCC ministers approve rules against human trafficking
Justice Ministers in the Gulf Cooperation Council member states have agreed on a number of model rules for combating human trafficking. In a final statement after their regular 28th meeting, held in Riyadh Wednesday, the ministers added that a joint panel has been also formed to prepare draft laws for fighting extremism, discrimination, hatred and racism. The conferees also approved a book of ethics for judiciary in the Gulf states. They have endorsed a technique proposed by a Gulf panel to unify the legislative principles in the member states. Earlier, Kuwaiti Minister of Justice and Minister of Awqaf and Islamic Affairs Yaqoub Al-Sanea underlined the significance of the GCC justice ministers’ meeting as mainly aiming to overhaul national justice systems and promote inter-GCC cooperation and integration. The minister said efforts to cement cooperation in the fields of justice and judiciary and to gauge the implementation of relevant recommendations and resolutions reflect real and fruitful legal cooperation among the GCC member states’ justice ministries. – Agencies
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06-10-2016
Egyptian manager of a weekly in visa trafficking business
KUWAIT: Residency detectives arrested an Egyptian working as a manager of a weekly for visa trafficking. Security sources said the suspect had been recruiting expats, bringing them to Kuwait and abandoning them to work for others. The sources explained that the suspect had been using the paper, owned by a citizen, whose license was cancelled by the information ministry in February, to issue around 150 visas and sold them for KD 1,200 each.
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05-10-2016
UAE implements new wage protection system; violators to be held accountable, fined Following 15 days of non-payment, Ministry will stop dealing with such companies
The Ministry of Human Resources and Emiratisation has set forth its new wage protection scheme to benefit workers. The decree was launched by Minister of Human Resources and Emiratisation, Saqr bin Ghobash Saeed Ghobash, which aims to ensure that employees receive full payment of their salaries. Maher Hamad Al Obed, Assistant Undersecretary, Ministry of Labor for Inspections Affairs, told Arabic daily Emarat Al Youm the authority had taken all-necessary arrangements to start implementing the resolution with new policies and measures introduced to strengthen the protection of workers ' rights in obtaining their wages without delay and in accordance with its due date. Al Obed stressed the importance and role of the resolution, which will contribute to other Ministry policies, bringing greater stability in the employment process, therefore increasing productivity, which is beneficial to the employer and the employee. He noted that the procedures will be in effect from Monday for companies that employ more than 100 workers. Al Obed added that the Ministry will send text message alerts for wages that have been delayed for more than 10 days. He added that the Ministry would stop dealing with such establishments if wages have been delayed over 15 days. “Two main scenarios should be considered in this matter. Firstly, salary delays occur usually if the company fails to pay wages a month from the due date, the second, which refers to completely refraining wages, starts after entering into the second month. However, the decree shall refer to each case in a different matter,” Al-Obed said. If a company delays wages for a month from the due date, it has “entered into a refrainment period”, and the ministry will inform judicial authorities and other related parties to take all necessary punitive measures against the violating company. “If the company fails to pay wages for 60 days from the due date, then administrative fines shall follow, in addition to registered fines for failing to pay wages a month from the due date, as stated above in the first scenario,” Al-Obed added. He emphasised further action would be taken including extending the ban to stop dealing the with the rest of the employer's facilities. He added that the Ministry would ban the registration of any new facility of the company’s owner, which committed the violation. He also said further actions required for non-liquation of the bank guarantee of the installation He added also the established category would be descended to third category within of the classification system of the enterprises of the MoE and enable workers to move from one employer to another. Regarding companies, which have less than 100 workers, Al Obed said that in the event that the ministry was sure that such companies delayed paying the wages the Ministry would halt dealing with them. He added not only that but will apply against them the present measures which stipulates in case delaying of the payment of wages for one month the ministry will stop dealing with it. He added and in case delaying for more than one month it will be referred to the judicial departments.
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03-10-2016
Govt staff to be paid by Gregorian calendar
RIYADH — Pay and perks of employees working in the public sector will be disbursed in accordance with the Gregorian calendar effective from Oct. 1. This was reported by Online news sites Sabq and Ain Al-Yaum, quoting a decision of the Council of Ministers issued on Sept. 26. The Cabinet took the decision as part of major austerity measures, including 20 percent salary cut of ministers and a moratorium on increment to government staff for the new Hijri year. According to the Cabinet decision, the salaries and allowances will be calculated on the basis of the fiscal year approved for the state in line with the Royal decree issued 30 years ago, on Rabi Al-Thani 12, 1407. The decision to switch from the lunar-based Hijri calendar to the Gregorian one will bring the public sector salary disbursement in line with that of the private sector. The government employees will lose 11 days of payment under the revised mechanism. The Hijri calendar is made up of 12 months of 29 or 30 days depending on the sighting of the moon, and the year is usually 354 days, 11 days shorter than the Gregorian calendar.
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03-10-2016
‘Balanced Nitaqat’ to address labor market challenges
Riyadh — The Ministry of Labor and Social Development has unveiled the balanced Nitaqat program to address the ongoing challenges of the labor market. The program will be implemented from Dec. 11. Under the program, five factors will be counted in the implementation of Saudization in each firm. They are percentage of Saudization, average salary of Saudi staff, percentage of women staff, job stability of Saudis, and percentage of Saudis with a higher pay. According to the new rules, the numerical strength of Saudi workers in a firm simply does not count. Their salary, number of women staff, years of service of Saudis, and their grades of jobs will also be counted. According to the balanced Nitaqat program, establishments will be given points based on the five factors. The ministry also prepared an electronic calculator that allows companies to know and improve their status. Dr. Ahmed Qattan, deputy minister for labor policies of the Ministry of Labor and Social Development, said the ministry launched the amended version of the program in Ramadan to train the national cadres and empower them to compete in the labor market. The ministry also announced that if the private sector borrows Saudi employees working in the government sector and universities it will be calculated in the Nitaqat Saudization program. The private sector can borrow employees for full time job and on the basis of a labor contract. Borrowing of one Saudi employee from the government sector or university by the private sector will be calculated as one Saudi under the Nitaqat program. The ministry, in cooperation with the General Organization for Social Insurance (GOSI), has launched an integrated electronic system to include such Saudi staff under the Nitaqat program, the ministry said. According to Qattan, the private sector employers can fill up online application in this regard after visiting the GOSI website. The private employer has to furnish all required details so that GOSI can verify the identity of the said employee from the Civil Service System which is linked to the National Information Center and gave temporary approval. The application form should also contain all details such as the name of the employee, his department, his ID number and number at the Ministry of Labor, date of contract, dates of starting and ending of borrowing, and copy of work contract.
news
01-10-2016
E-visa system explained
KUWAIT: Director of Residency Affairs Maj General Talal Marafi yesterday met with a number of EU diplomats of countries whose citizens will be eligible to use the recently launched e-visa system to explain the system to them. Marafi explained that Kuwait issues visas through immigration departments, Kuwaiti consulates abroad, hotels and commercial companies, direct access through various marine, land and air border exits and finally by using the e-visa system. Marafi added that subjects of 54 countries would benefit from the new system. He also noted that applicants would be contacted through email in case of rejection, which might be only done for security reasons, incomplete information or data or unclear photos on passports. In addition, Marafi explained that instead of checking with Kuwait embassies, those wishing to visit Kuwait could apply online at the Interior Ministry’s website www.moi.gov.kw or have it directly issued at exits in return for a KD 3 fee.
news
30-09-2016
Philippine Embassy renders 21,173 consular services
RIYADH: The Philippine Embassy announced on Thursday that it rendered 21,173 consular services to Overseas Filipino Workers (OFWs) in August 2016. For passport and other related services, the embassy processed 6,731 passport applications, broken down as follows: 6,528 renewal applications; 131 new passport applications and 72 replacements of lost passport applications. The embassy also processed 294 passport validity extensions and 93 travel documents. The embassy also conducted three consular mobile missions, as follows: Special five-day consular outreach mission in Alkhobar from Aug. 14 to 18; and on Aug. 19 to 20, and in Jubail on Aug. 26 to 27. On visa services, the embassy issued 362 visas, as follows: 349 temporary visitors’ visas (9A), and 13 diplomatic and official visas (9E). The embassy also processed 229 civil registry documents: 52 reports of marriage; 36 reports of death, and 7 petitions for correction of clerical error under Republic Act 9048. The embassy also provided a total of 3,329 notarial and authentication services: 3,236 notarial and 93 authentications. The embassy also released 4,801 passports
news
29-09-2016
Salary, perk cuts reveal unheard of allowances
JEDDAH — The Council of Ministers’ decision on Monday to slash the salaries and fringe benefits of ministers and Shoura Council members has brought to light a number of allowances about which many people had no idea. Many Saudis did not know that there were special allowances and provisions for “appearance,” “difficult tasks” and “risky missions.” The cuts covered as many as 51 allowances and fringe benefits which were paid to ministers and senior government officials. “I never knew that cashiers in ministries and government departments were being paid ‘honesty’ allowance,” an astonished Saudi citizen told Al-Hayat Arabic daily. “I was astounded that typists were being paid an allowance for typing which was their job for which they were getting salaries,” he said. The salaries of ministers were cut by about 20 percent, reducing the monthly emolument from SR51,750 to SR41,400. The remunerations of Shoura Council members, which were cut by 15 percent, came down to SR22,483 from SR26,450. There are 143 ministers and senior officials in ministers rank. Shoura Council members welcomed the decision, saying that the reduction of their emoluments was in line with the current world economic conditions. “The sacrifices for the homeland are not measured by money but by souls. We are ready to sacrifice even our lives not just a few riyals,” said Fahd Bin Juma, a Shoura member. He urged Saudi families to reduce their expenses. Welcoming the decision, Ahmed Al-Mofreh, another Shoura member, said, “We are facing challenges which require decisiveness and determination. Every citizen should whole heartedly support these decisions.” Mohammed Al-Naji, another member, said the cuts targeted high income people and did not affect ordinary citizens. A number of economists expect the decision to contribute to the rationalization of family spending by between 20 and 30 percent. They also expect the retail and services sector sales to go down by between 25 and 30 percent. Prices of fruits and vegetables have already started to go down, according to Jabbar Al-Bishi, deputy chairman of the committee of vegetables and fruits at the Jeddah Chamber of Commerce and Industry (JCCI). “The decisions will have a positive effect on the fruits and vegetable market and the drop in the prices is expected to continue,” he said.
news
29-09-2016
Workers block road to protest salary delay
DAMMAM — Nearly 800 workers of a big business group here came out on the streets and blocked the traffic in protest against unprecedented delay in the disbursement of their salaries. The police had to rush to the scene to disperse the crowd and ease traffic jam on Dammam-Abqaiq Road Tuesday morning. More than 13 police vehicles cordoned off the area to control the protest. The business group owns a reputed hospital in Al-Khobar, a contracting company, a luxury housing compound, and an international school. Most of the protesting workers, who belonged to the group’s contracting company, alleged that they had not been paid their salaries for the past 10 months. A majority of protesting workers were of Asian origin, mainly Indians and Bangladeshis. A volunteer, who coordinates with Indian Embassy, said that the problem had been going on for the past two years. “Many workers had left the Kingdom without settling their final dues. Some in higher grades in the corporate office were allowed by the management to leave with all the benefits, while a large number of workers, mainly unskilled laborers and technicians, continue to suffer for several months,” he said. Mohammed Shahid, an Indian worker who is employed at the contracting company and was part of protesting employees, said, “Our hunger, sickness and sufferings brought us on the streets. We have been pleading with the management for our salaries but to no avail,” he said. A Bangladeshi, who works as a janitor at the hospital, said that he and his several dozen colleagues have been suffering for more than six months. “We have been virtually starving. The kitchen at the camp has no supplies,” he said, adding that many of his colleagues were working without valid iqamas (residence permits) as the company has not renewed them after their expiry.
news
29-09-2016
Private sector to get Nitaqat points for borrowing govt staff
RIYADH – If the private sector borrows Saudi employees working in the government sector and universities it will be calculated in the Nitaqat Saudization program. Minister of Labor and Social Development Mofrej Al-Haqbani has approved this, according to Dr. Ahmad Qattan, undersecretary for labor policies at the ministry. It has been specified that the private sector can borrow the employees for full time job and on the basis of a labor contract, the Saudi Press Agency reported. “Borrowing of one Saudi employee from the government sector or university by the private sector will be calculated as one Saudi under the Nitaqat program. The ministry, in cooperation with the General Organization for Social Insurance (GOSI), has launched an integrated electronic system to include such Saudi staff under the Nitaqat program,” he said. According to Qattan, the private sector employers can fill up online application in this regard after visiting the GOSI website. The private employer has to furnish all required details so that GOSI can verify the identity of the said employee from the Civil Service System which is linked to the National Information Center and gave temporary approval. The application form should also contain all details such as the name of the employee, his department, his ID number and number at the Ministry of Labor, date of contract, dates of starting and ending of borrowing, and copy of work contract. The ministry published on May 5 a draft decision in this regard on its electronic gate (www.ma3an.gov.sa) so that Saudis and foreigners can present their suggestions and proposals before its formal approval, Qattan said while noting that the decision is part of a series of measures being taken by the ministry to address the challenges in the labor market and provide incentives to the private sector with regard to implementation of Nitaqat program.
news
28-09-2016
Bangladeshi workers stage a sit-in protest
KUWAIT: Around 100 Bangladeshi workers hired by a Kuwaiti company to guard supermarkets and various stores in Kuwait staged a sit-in protest yesterday at the Bangladesh Embassy in Khaldiya. The workers demanded residency permits, which the company failed to provide since they joined 11 months ago. They also haven’t been paid for the past two months, with no housing too in this period. “We have been working for almost a year now with this company. They said they will provide us with visas and good accommodation, but nothing happened,” said 24-year-old Muhammad Jassem. “We want a transfer as soon as possible because we do not have any place to live. We have no money too, and are forced to work elsewhere. We are very afraid, as the police could check our residency status, and we can end up in jail,” he said. Abdul Latif Khan told Kuwait Times he told the workers to be patient as the embassy has been coordinating with their company to resolve their issues. Asked why they were not able to get iqamas, he said the company has a problem with the ministry, so they cannot process the visas. “But rest assured, we have been coordinating with the company and they promised us to resolve the problems of the workers in the next few days or weeks. Hopefully, they will comply,” he said. Khan said the company promised to pay the outstanding salaries and that work will resume in the coming days. “I appeal to the workers to cooperate with the company so that their legal documents and residencies will be given in due time. The workers came from Bangladesh directly, and we were not informed when they entered Kuwait. Only last month they came to seek assistance. We are continuing negotiations so that the problem will be resolved,” he told Kuwait Times. The recruitment company was contacted by Kuwait Times, but refused to comment.
news
27-09-2016
‘No harassment complaints against Saudi taxi drivers’
DAMMAM: The Transport Ministry has rejected accusations about cases of harassment allegedly made by Saudi drivers working in taxis, specializing in transporting women. The ministry stated that it has not received complaints of harassment from these women. Instead, it pointed the finger at limousine companies called “Taxi by rent,” stating that the owners of these companies have already committed many violations and clarified that it is difficult to retrieve the rights of their customers or even to redress complaints and harassment. General Manager of the Ministry’s Passenger Transport Administration, Mueidh Aal Saeed, recognized that the rights of female passengers using these limousine cars may have been compromised while being subjected to harassment by these drivers. He added, however, that some companies have service centers that receive these types of customer complaints. Co-founder and CEO of Kareem Company, Dr. Abdullah Elias, said that there are special characteristics provided by the company before the journey and during it. He said before the journey, they ask for documentation of every driver and the work team. Elias added that his company has offices all over the Kingdom to train drivers and to verify their cars and fingerprints before they start work. He added that there is cooperation with the security authorities about the data of car trips and drivers. He also noted that there is an electronic link with the Elm Company which gives immediate warnings if there is a notice listed in the Criminal Newspaper of any vehicle or car driver having been involved in violations of the law. Elias also revealed that during the journey, the client can verify the identity of the driver through a special phone number, photo and car features at the front of the car and at the back. “We don’t provide the phone number of the client to the driver in order protect the client. Furthermore, the friends of the client can follow up on the car journey through a special link," he said. He assured the public that the Kareem company is distinguished through the use of a unified number to receive client calls on a 24-hour basis, and to provide the necessary help even on Eid and other official holidays. Clients can also report complaints through e-mail. Lawyer Bayan Zahran confirmed that harassment cases are considered criminal offences and involve two criminal procedures: To report the case if it occurrs in the workplace (because the employee reported would have overstepped his professional duty and ethics obligations), and to pursue the application of legal penalties through the police. The case then goes to the Investigation and Prosecution Authority for further investigation and a court ruling.
news
26-09-2016
Many expats held for blackmailing Saudi female staff
JEDDAH — Several expats have been arrested for threatening and blackmailing Saudi female employees of a commercial establishment in Jeddah. Many staff members of the company run by three expatriates face harsh punishment for involvement in harassing, threatening, and violating the privacy and honor of a number of individuals. Two of the expats are facing charges under anti-cyber crime and human trafficking laws, while others are accused of coordinating illegal gatherings. Others are facing charges for threatening female Saudi employees and blackmailing them by threatening to publish their photographs on social media. The Commission for the Promotion of Virtue and Prevention of Vice (Haia) received complaints from a number of female Saudi employees working at the company. The complaints named the company director along with a number of supervisors. Based on the evidence submitted by the women, the suspects were arrested and brought to the Bureau of Investigation and Prosecution. The director of the company was charged with harassment, extortion, threatening the women with dismissal, and the threat of increased work hours if they did not comply with his demands. One of the victims said that the director of the company tried several times to convince her to go out with him to an apartment to meet on a daily basis his friends, supervisors, and other women from outside the company. One of the women submitted several WhatsApp messages sent to her mobile from the company’s director containing threatening language, demanding that she go out with him or face increased working hours. The women also submitted several records and messages from supervisors working in the company arranging parties with alcohol. One of the victims said she had been blackmailed and harassed from the beginning of her employment in the company. She said she surrendered to the manager in light of her difficult economic conditions, who had sex with her and videotaped her with his mobile device. The investigation ended with the prosecutor asking for the harshest punishment.
news
26-09-2016
Dubai Police launches smart app to help human trafficking victims Victims can file complaints and get assistance and legal support
Dubai Police have launched a smart app, the first of its kind in the region, to combat human trafficking through helping victims and monitoring these crimes. Brigadier Dr Mohammed Al Murr, Director-General of the General Directorate of Human Rights at Dubai Police, said that the service will help human trafficking victims to report, using the smart app, so that police officials could reach out and provide them with assistance, including legal support. He added that the UAE has adopted a number of programmes, launched campaigns and initiatives, as well as enacted stringent laws to eradicate all forms and manifestations of these inhuman crimes.
news
24-09-2016
Migrant Workers in the Gulf Feel Pinch of Falling Oil Prices
DUBAI, Sep 21 2016 (IPS) - In the Al Quoz industrial area of Dubai in the United Arab Emirates (UAE), a number of medium and large-sized buses can be spotted transporting workers clad in company uniforms to distant worksites early in the morning. In the evening or, in certain cases, late at night, these workers are brought back to labour camps in the same buses. At the camps, the migrant workers barely have time to rest before the next workday. They huddle inside small, dingy quarters and the number of occupants may rise up to eight per room. With their belongings stuffed into every corner, they hardly have space to move and are vulnerable to catch infections from each other. Their day starts too early as they have to cook their food to carry to the site and ends late due to long journeys amid frequent traffic jams. “The role of the state becomes important here as migrant workers in the Gulf are voiceless. Without the right to associate and demand rights, they are as helpless as one can think of.” -- Khalid Mahmood of the Lahore-based Labour Education Foundation The workers at a typical camp hail from different countries, so the common practice is to allocate shared rooms according to their nationalities. At a typical labour camp there can be a Pakistani block, Indian block, Nepali block or Bangladeshi block. Javed Iqbal, 29, lives in one such labour camp. He has come to Dubai from Pakistan through a middleman who sold a work visa to his family for Rs 300,000 (about 3,000 dollars). The family borrowed money from relatives to complete this transaction. Having not attended school beyond grade 4, Javed cannot read and write and couldn’t find a job in his home country. The same lack of education and any proper skill set makes him ineligible for regular recruitment abroad as well. The only option he had was to come to Dubai on whatever salary he could get and gradually build his fortune there. But things did not work out well and he is stuck in a construction sector job that pays a paltry 240 dollars per month. He says it’s hard for him to cover his personal expenses, let alone send anything back home. Meanwhile, he is under immense pressure from his family to pay back the loan that bought his visa. A labour camp in Dubai. Workers are allocated sleeping quarters based on nationality, and the number of occupants may be to six to eight per room. Credit: S. Irfan Ahmed/IPS A labour camp in Dubai. Workers are allocated sleeping quarters based on nationality, and the number of occupants may be as high as eight per room. Credit: S. Irfan Ahmed/IPS Javed is not the only one in this situation. There are thousands of Pakistanis like him who are told fairytales about career growth prospects in UAE but once there, nightmares await them. These workers are mostly unskilled and employed in the construction sector, which is not performing well in the oil-rich countries of the Gulf region. With oil prices down in the global market, the government is facing difficulty clearing payments of construction companies. “I was inspired by the story of a village fellow who went to Dubai as a mason three decades ago. Now he owns two houses and several acres of land in the village,” Muhammad Iqbal, a migrant worker from Gujranwala district, told IPS. Everybody in the village wants to emulate him regardless of the situation that exists in the Gulf region, he adds. Related IPS Articles Towards Safe Migration and Decent Work for Women in Nepal Italy’s Second Economy: The Impact of Bangladeshi Migration Migrant Labour Fuels Tensions in Mauritius Dependence on remittances Pakistan relies heavily on remittances to build on its foreign reserves and they constitute around 6.9 per cent of its Gross Domestic Product (GDP), according to a World Bank report. More than half of the remittances come from two countries – Saudi Arabia and Dubai. There are around 1.3 million Pakistani workers in the UAE and close to 4.3 million in Saudi Arabia. In the last fiscal year, the country received remittances worth 19.9 billion dollars, but in July they dropped by 20 per cent as compared to the figure of the same month last year. There are speculations that layoffs and non-payment of salaries to migrant workers in this region are the cause of this drop in volume. Some fear there is more to come as a large number of Pakistani workers could face job losses due to the slump in the construction sector where they are mostly empl
news
24-09-2016
Migrant Workers in the Gulf Feel Pinch of Falling Oil Prices
DUBAI, Sep 21 2016 (IPS) - In the Al Quoz industrial area of Dubai in the United Arab Emirates (UAE), a number of medium and large-sized buses can be spotted transporting workers clad in company uniforms to distant worksites early in the morning. In the evening or, in certain cases, late at night, these workers are brought back to labour camps in the same buses. At the camps, the migrant workers barely have time to rest before the next workday. They huddle inside small, dingy quarters and the number of occupants may rise up to eight per room. With their belongings stuffed into every corner, they hardly have space to move and are vulnerable to catch infections from each other. Their day starts too early as they have to cook their food to carry to the site and ends late due to long journeys amid frequent traffic jams. “The role of the state becomes important here as migrant workers in the Gulf are voiceless. Without the right to associate and demand rights, they are as helpless as one can think of.” -- Khalid Mahmood of the Lahore-based Labour Education Foundation The workers at a typical camp hail from different countries, so the common practice is to allocate shared rooms according to their nationalities. At a typical labour camp there can be a Pakistani block, Indian block, Nepali block or Bangladeshi block. Javed Iqbal, 29, lives in one such labour camp. He has come to Dubai from Pakistan through a middleman who sold a work visa to his family for Rs 300,000 (about 3,000 dollars). The family borrowed money from relatives to complete this transaction. Having not attended school beyond grade 4, Javed cannot read and write and couldn’t find a job in his home country. The same lack of education and any proper skill set makes him ineligible for regular recruitment abroad as well. The only option he had was to come to Dubai on whatever salary he could get and gradually build his fortune there. But things did not work out well and he is stuck in a construction sector job that pays a paltry 240 dollars per month. He says it’s hard for him to cover his personal expenses, let alone send anything back home. Meanwhile, he is under immense pressure from his family to pay back the loan that bought his visa. A labour camp in Dubai. Workers are allocated sleeping quarters based on nationality, and the number of occupants may be to six to eight per room. Credit: S. Irfan Ahmed/IPS A labour camp in Dubai. Workers are allocated sleeping quarters based on nationality, and the number of occupants may be as high as eight per room. Credit: S. Irfan Ahmed/IPS Javed is not the only one in this situation. There are thousands of Pakistanis like him who are told fairytales about career growth prospects in UAE but once there, nightmares await them. These workers are mostly unskilled and employed in the construction sector, which is not performing well in the oil-rich countries of the Gulf region. With oil prices down in the global market, the government is facing difficulty clearing payments of construction companies. “I was inspired by the story of a village fellow who went to Dubai as a mason three decades ago. Now he owns two houses and several acres of land in the village,” Muhammad Iqbal, a migrant worker from Gujranwala district, told IPS. Everybody in the village wants to emulate him regardless of the situation that exists in the Gulf region, he adds. Related IPS Articles Towards Safe Migration and Decent Work for Women in Nepal Italy’s Second Economy: The Impact of Bangladeshi Migration Migrant Labour Fuels Tensions in Mauritius Dependence on remittances Pakistan relies heavily on remittances to build on its foreign reserves and they constitute around 6.9 per cent of its Gross Domestic Product (GDP), according to a World Bank report. More than half of the remittances come from two countries – Saudi Arabia and Dubai. There are around 1.3 million Pakistani workers in the UAE and close to 4.3 million in Saudi Arabia. In the last fiscal year, the country received remittances worth 19.9 billion dollars, but in July they dropped by 20 per cent as compared to the figure of the same month last year. There are speculations that layoffs and non-payment of salaries to migrant workers in this region are the cause of this drop in volume. Some fear there is more to come as a large number of Pakistani workers could face job losses due to the slump in the construction sector where they are mostly empl
news
24-09-2016
Kuwait ranks worst in GCC for expats: HSBC
KUWAIT: Only three weeks after the InterNations Foundation ranked Kuwait as the worst country for expats to live in, Kuwait was once more ranked the last in GCC and 35th worldwide in terms of the best country for expat life according to the Expat Explorer survey issued by HSBC bank. According to the 2016 survey, Kuwait fell back one notch from 34 to 35 amongst 45 world countries – starting with Singapore as number one and Brazil as number 45 in terms of the best destinations for expats. In addition, the study showed that Bahrain was the prime destination for expats in GCC states and came 9th worldwide followed by UAE which ranked second in GCC and 12th worldwide. The report also showed that Oman came 3rd in GCC and 18th worldwide; Qatar came 4th in GCC and 29th worldwide; Saudi Arabia came 5th in GCC and 31 worldwide while Kuwait came last in GCC and 35th worldwide. The study also included expats’ economic status, experiences and family lives. Bahrain came 17th in economics, 6th in experiences and 9th in family life followed by UAE which ranked fifth rank in economics, ninth in experiences and 22nd in family life. Oman came 14th in economics, 15th in experiences and 34th in family life. Qatar ranked 8th in economics, 40 in experiences and 36 in family life. Saudi Arabia came 11th in economics, 37th in experiences and 39th in family life. Finally, Kuwait came 22nd in economics, 43rd in experiences and 41 in family life.
news
23-09-2016
New labor strategies to go in line with National Transformation Plan
THE Ministry of Labor and Social Development has started this year the implementation of its plan to Saudize the telecommunication sector. The plan became effective earlier this year and the businesses were given a six-month period to fully implement the decision. The Saudization of this sector comes to fulfill four goals which include: Providing opportunities for job seekers at reasonable wages, developing a national manpower that goes in line with the National Transformation Plan, overcoming the cover-up businesses and unauthorized expatriates, and developing establishments that are equipped to welcome national manpower. Nine government bodies have collaborated to make this decision effective, they include: Ministry of Labor and Social Development, Ministry of Commerce and Investment, Ministry of Telecommunication and Information Technology, Ministry of Municipal and Rural Affairs, General Organization for Social Services, Human Resources Development Fund, Technical and Vocational Training Corporation (TVTC), Saudi Credit and Saving Bank and Riyada’a. The TVTC has provided free training for Saudi jobseekers in sales, customer service, basic mobile repairing and advanced mobile repairing. While the SCSB has providing funding to those willing to invest in the sector, HRDF provided financial aid to establishments employing Saudis while other government bodies collaborated with the ministry in strictly implementing the system in all Kingdom regions. The National System for Joint Training (NSJT) also provide training for the Saudi staff willing to work in the telecom establishments and it also support these establishments by paying 50% of the salaries of these Saudis for 24 months. The NSJT has provided training for over 40,000 many of whom are in Jeddah, Riyadh, Madinah, Qassim, Dammam and Makkah. According to ministry’s figures the second stage of Saudizing the telecommunication sector shows that some 95% of shops have adhered to the system compared to only 20% who adhered to the system in the first stage. The ministry conducted this month 1,975 inspection tours and documented 340 violations. The ministry has initiated a long-term strategy that aims at equipping Saudis to dominate the job market over the period of 25 years which started in 2010. The unemployment rate has dropped since the implementation of the shift strategy and in 2015 the number of unemployed Saudis was 647,000. The plan also included making the private sector an attractive hub for Saudi jobseekers, this led to the increase of Saudis in the private sector who exceeded 1.7 million by 2015. The year 2015 also marked an increase in the number of employed Saudi women who increased by 21% compared to 2014. Among the domains that women increased their presence in are: Construction, training, social services, downstream industry, insurance, real estate and business, transportation, agriculture and fishing, mining, electricity, water, and gas. Meanwhile the ministry has supported special needs people through its program “Tawafouq” and Nitaqat Plus. The ministry has provided training to people with special needs in Riyadh, Makkah and Madinah. The ministry also works on categorizing these people based on their disability and needs. An annual statistic report issued by the ministry shows that the number of cases that it received adds up to 6,524 which include 52,410 workers. While the total amount of fines that the ministry collected in 2015 is over SR25.8 million. The Ministry of Labor has started to implement a wage protection system based on seven stages to ensure that employees get their salaries on time. Over 7,000 establishments have been included in 2015 in the wage protection system with more to be included in the coming two stages. To make the Saudization effective no Saudis are included in Nitaqat if their monthly wages are bellow SR1,500 noted the report.
news
22-09-2016
Foreign laborers’ control over telecom sector produces underground economy
JEDDAH: Despite the Saudization decision strictly applied by the Ministry of Labor and Social Development which prevents foreigners from working in the telecom market, some illegally sell their goods outside shops offering customers their products before they enter telecom accessories shops run by Saudis. Some foreigners who have stores selling mobile and other accessories, sell their devices on the streets, according to local media reports. Media reports have also revealed that owners of some telecom shops in Jeddah are eluding the Saudization decision with foreign workers at these shops impersonating customers. Field trips conducted by local media have monitored the presence of foreign workers disguised as “customers” inside telecom shops. When a client enquires about a specific device, the “customers” deal with him and answer the inquiries, including the price of the device, in addition to all related details. The Saudi employee nominally remains in place as the salesman, just to conclude the deal and furnish the bill. Media also spotted the spread of street vendors who hold mobile phones in their hands, and when the agreement on the purchase is reached, purchase invoices are issued by one of the shops they are dealing with. On the other hand, some members of the Shoura Council have urged owners of the communications complexes to collaborate with competent bodies to help the Saudization decision become a success, and to make use of the qualified national cadres, and also give them support to work in this vital sector. They confirmed that this the sector, which generates huge profits, was controlled by expats for a long time until the issuance of the ministerial decision to Saudize the sale and maintenance of the mobile phones profession by 100 percent, and to restrict work in the field only for Saudis of both genders. Dr. Fahad Al-Anzi, a member of the Shoura Council said: “There is no doubt that the Saudization of the telecom sector is a national decision where its importance and dimensions are recognized by everyone who works in this sector. Owners of the facilities should trust our young men and young women by providing them the opportunity to promote the telecom market and ridding it of the so-called underground economy.” Al-Anzi explained that expats’ control over this vital sector formed the so-called underground economy, where the majority of transactions in the telecommunications market are carried out in cash, allowing them to reap huge amounts of money and transfer it illegally. He stressed that “the Saudization decision and empowering young Saudi men and women will restore balance to the market.” For her part, Dr. Thoraya Al-Areed, another Shoura Council member, pointed out that the “Saudization of the telecommunications sector will contribute to the creation of large employment opportunities for the national forces.” She also hailed efforts exerted by the ministry, including training and rehabilitation programs which ended in employment, in addition to the initiatives of providing funding to both males and females in the sector.
news
21-09-2016
Unpaid Alkhobar hospital staff strike
RIYADH: A large number of employees at Saad Specialist Hospital in Alkhobar has gone on strike because of non-payment of salaries for the past three months. Jamil, an employee, said the hospital administration has not paid their salaries for three months now, after stopping transportation and housing allowance since July 2015. A nurse said all staff members, including administrators, went on strike. She pointed out that cleaning and security employees, who have low salaries, did not join the strikers because they were properly paid. She said the hospital’s management has not given any indication as to when they can expect payment or why salaries have not yet been paid. She said the Labor and Social Development Ministry has so far been unable to resolve the issue, despite meeting with staff members several times. The strike began around three weeks ago, but gathered steam following the Eid holidays. The hospital employs more than 4,000 people, 19 percent Saudis. The 15-year-old medical facility was considered one of the top hospitals in the region, attracting doctors from all over the world. The hospital is a part of a conglomerate, which includes civil engineering, construction and real estate investment companies
news
21-09-2016
Low salaries, job security leading factors contributing to workplace stress: survey Call for flexi-hours, more time to complete job duties
While much of the stress we experience comes from our personal lives, sometimes, a person’s stress can be caused by, or made worse, by work. In its poll entitled, ‘Stress in the MENA Workplace’, Bayt.com, the Middle East’s job site, investigates the various factors that contribute to stress in workplaces across the MENA region. The poll has revealed that more than half of respondents in the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) region agree that workplaces today are more stressful than they were a few years back (52 per cent), and more than two thirds (69.1 per cent) agree that they feel more pressure at work this year in comparison to last year. The majority of respondents feel overwhelmed at work (83 per cent), with 26.2 per cent feeling overwhelmed ‘all of the time’, and 74.8 per cent claiming that jobs at their companies are more demanding than others. More than a third, or 35 per cent, claim to spend too much time at work, while a quarter say that they spend just the right amount of time. Just 2.9 per cent admit that they are spending too little time at work. According to MENA respondents, stress does not affect work performance the most. For them, stress affects their family relations the most, with 27.9 per cent of the respondents saying so. This is followed by their friendships (21 per cent), work performance (19.9 per cent) and health (16.4 per cent). The three main stress factors for MENA respondents are their financial situation (40 per cent), their work (19 per cent) and their personal issues (18 per cent). While almost a quarter of respondents, or 24.7 per cent, claim to experience an average amount of stress at work, 57.4 per cent of them find the workplace stressful; with 17.6 per cent admitting that their workplace is ‘extremely stressful’ and 19.7 per cent claiming to experience ‘a little stress at work’. Meanwhile, 18 per cent of the respondents claim that their workplace is not stressful at all. Low salaries contributing A low salary is the main stress factor at work for 28.2 per cent of MENA respondents. Other stress factors include a lack of job security (12.3 per cent), while 9.7 per cent say its the workplace environment and not having a work-life balance (9.1 per cent). In addition, 40 per cent of the respondents claim that technologies, like email, laptops and phones, intended to make their lives easier, are actually contributing to work stress; 42.1 per cent believe the opposite to be true. When it comes to avoiding work stress altogether, a quarter of the respondents or 25 per cent agree that engaging in regular team meetings and working for a company that offers flexible hours (23.9 per cent) will reduce the stress component. In fact, more than three quarters claim that they could do a much better job if given more time (77.4 per cent). Over two thirds of the respondents or 67.9 per cent admit that they can express their thoughts or complain about their workload, and the majority receive adequate acknowledgment and appreciation when their work is good (82.7 per cent). Moreover, 92.2 per cent have adequate control, or input, over their work duties, and almost three quarters or 73.6 per cent agree that the management is sufficiently sensitive to, and helpful, in resolving needs, conflicts, or other problems that are stressful for employees. To resolve their stress issues, 43.6 per cent of respondents exercise more frequently, while 39.7 per cent turn to socialising with friends after work. “Work-related stress can be caused by poor work organisation, poor work design, unsatisfactory working conditions, low salaries, and lack of support from colleagues and managers,” said Suhail Masri, Vice President of Employer Solutions at Bayt.com. Data for the Bayt.com ‘Stress in the MENA Workplace’ poll was collected online from June 26, 2016 to August 2, 2016. Results are based on a sample of 10,956 respondents. Countries that participated include the UAE, Bahrain, Algeria, Egypt, Iraq, Jordan, Kuwait, Lebanon, Morocco, Oman, Tunisia, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, and Yemen.
news
19-09-2016
RTA launches Audit Permit to train employees on internal monitoring
The Roads and Transport Authority (RTA) has launched a training program entitled ‘Audit Permit’ to educate employees about the importance of internal audit, and qualify them to exercise internal monitoring of their organizational units through familiarizing them with audit techniques in place. “The launch of this training program is part of a series of superb programs to hone the skills, competencies and knowledge of RTA’s employees and familiarize them with world’s best practices of the industry,” said Kawther Kazim, Executive Director of Human Resources & Development. “This program had been undertaken in conjunction with the Internal Audit Department as it involves awarding an Audit Permit, and reflects RTA’s strategy of ensuring job transparency besides enabling the practicing of the highest internal control. Such an approach serves RTA’s interest in nurturing a creative work environment, and cementing the bonds of loyalty and belonging between RTA and employees,” she added. “The theoretical aspect of the program covers an overview of internal audit, charter, guide, anti-fraud policy, internal monitoring, and training employees on various sections of internal audit. The practical aspect covers the participation of trainees in all stages of internal audit, co-training employee with auditors, undergoing practical tests, and reviewing risks related to the job scope. “The program will have a huge positive impact on growing the knowledge & skills of human resources in the field of internal audit, analytical thinking, communication skills, critical thinking, and report writing. The time chart of the Audit Permit included the graduation of the first batch of trainees last April. Another batch will be taken this September and a third one in April 2017. The last one in September 2017. Trainees will be awarded, and a study shall be commissioned afterwards to verify the benefits realized from the Program.
news
17-09-2016
Ministry of Labor starts secret cell phone shop inspections
CONSTANT VIGILANCE: The Ministry of Labor and Social Development’s direct and secret inspections on all facilities are constantly monitoring violations and imposing penalties on violators. (SPA) RIYADH: The Ministry of Labor and Social Development confirmed it has directed secret inspections on mobile phone sale and maintenance facilities to monitor violations, and to impose punishments on violators. The ministry has also enhanced its community partnership through reporting violations of the labor market, including Saudization irregularities in the telecommunications sector, by calling its unified customer service number 19911, or through the website “Together to monitor.” The reports will be checked immediately in order to improve, develop and control the labor market environment. Ministry of Labor and Social Development spokesman Khalid Aba Al-Khail said that hiring foreigners in the field of sales and maintenance of mobile phones makes owners of these shops subject to statutory penalties. He confirmed, “The ministry’s direct and secret inspections on all facilities are constantly monitoring violations and imposing penalties on violators. The ministry has allocated inspectors to carry out inspection tours on the telecommunication shops across the Kingdom.” He pointed out that the ministry aims to regulate the sector and create job opportunities for Saudi males and females who wish to work in this activity. These professions provide appropriate financial returns and a stable job. Aba Al-Khail stressed that “The ongoing inspection campaigns are carried out by the Ministries of Interior, Labor and Social Development, Municipal and Rural Affairs, Trade and Investment, and Communications and Information Technology. These bodies began their missions within the second phase of the ministerial order that confines working in telecom sector to Saudis by 100 percent which started on the first day of Dhul-Hijjah.”
news
15-09-2016
Pact on minimum wage with a company for Omanis in Dhofar
Salalah: Ministry of Manpower, represented by the Directorate General of Manpower, Governorate of Dhofar signed, yesterday, the minutes of an agreement with the Health Food Company LLC, on increasing the minimum wage of national employees in Oman effective from September. The agreement ensures that the minimum wage shall not be less than OMR430 for the company’s existing employees and for any of the employees who join the service of the company and successfully completes the three–month probation period. The agreement was signed on behalf of the Ministry by Khalid bin Hamad Al Rawahi, Director General of the Directorate General of Manpower, in Dhofar Governorate, while on behalf of the company it was signed by Ahmed bin Hafeedh Mohiddin, Vice Chairman of the company’s Board.
news
10-09-2016
Kuwait urged to abolish ‘sponsorship system’
KUWAIT: UN Special Rapporteur on Trafficking in Persons, especially women and children, Maria Grazia Giammarinaro yesterday called on Kuwait to abolish the Kafala system (sponsorship system) but praised a number of measures taken by Kuwait to improve the situation of foreign workers especially domestic helpers. Giammarinaro said that some domestic workers have been forced into prostitution and that hundreds of them flee their employers every year for being forced to work for long hours, are mistreated and beaten. “In order to be successful in the struggle against trafficking, the government of Kuwait should also consider to deal with the general context of migration and labor regulations that produce social vulnerabilities,” she told a press conference at the conclusion of a five-day visit at the invitation of the Kuwaiti government. “This is the reason why the Kafala system should be abolished and replaced by a different regulation, allowing migrant workers to enjoy substantial freedom in the labor market,” Giammarinaro said. The UN official praised Kuwait for setting up two shelters for female domestic helpers who flee their employers and called for setting up a shelter for men. “This accomplishment is even more significant given that exploitation is of domestic workers is prevalent in the region,” she said. “I encourage the government and institutions of Kuwait to continue in this direction and redouble efforts to better prevent trafficking and protect its victims,” the UN official said. “It is necessary to address existing gaps especially regarding real alternatives to deportation when people are not willing to return,” she said. Giammarinaro urged Kuwaiti authorities to drop the absconding charges against foreign workers and ensure paying their unpaid wages as well as the possibility of changing the employer without restriction. She said that trafficking for sexual exploitation, particularly forced prostitution exists in Kuwait and the Gulf states and called for implementing the anti-trafficking in persons law in Kuwait to eradicate this phenomenon. The UN official called on authorities to fast-track the establishment of a government owned recruitment agency to prevent trafficking in domestic workers. Giammarinaro called for the establishment of a “victim fund” that will provide a comprehensive compensation scheme for victims of trafficking. She also urged allowing migrant workers to enjoy the freedom to set up associations to protect their rights.
news
09-09-2016
India seeks repatriation of all illegal residents: Singh – New Delhi beefs up measures at airports to curb human trafficking
KUWAIT: The India government has requested the Kuwaiti authorities to find a way to repatriate around 29,000 Indians currently staying in Kuwait without valid residency documents, stated Gen V K Singh, India’s Minister of State for External Affairs here on Wednesday. Addressing a press conference at the Indian Embassy along with Indian Ambassador Sunil Jain, the minister said, “Since these 29,000 people are having problems with their residency, we have requested the government of Kuwait to find out ways and means of sending these people back to India at the shortest possible time. We have also assured the Kuwait government that the India government is ready to assist them in all possible ways so that these illegal residents can go back to India as fast as possible,” he said. During his two-day stay in Kuwait, the minister held discussions with First Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Foreign Affairs Sheikh Sabah Khaled Al-Hamad Al-Sabah, Minister of Social Affairs and Labour Hind Al-Subaih and other high-level officials. The Minister of Social Affairs and Labor assured him that the ministry would look into all labor-related problems of Indians. On his part, Singh has suggested to the minister that both sides shall convene the joint working group at an earliest date. “I am also happy to meet and interact with a large number of Indians during my visit. My visit was also to take stock of the issues being faced by the community. It gives me confidence that all problems are solvable but it requires time to find ways and means and to increase our interaction both at the political and the official level in Kuwait,” he said. The minister visited Qatar and the UAE before arriving in Kuwait. Praising the Indian ambassador, Singh said, Jain is a proactive ambassador who is seriously engaged in solving the problems of the community. Answering a question regarding the Indian Community School, he said the India government has no direct role in the functioning of the school as it is not owned by the government. “I have learned that the school was setup by the community and I earnestly hope that the community will be able to solve the problems,” the minister pointed out. Immigration The India government has taken several steps to protect its citizens, the minister said in response to a query regarding the continuing human trafficking from India and the enduring malpractices and large-scale corruption in recruitments. The government has already stopped single woman, who is below 30 years of age, from going abroad in search of job. Similarly, recruitments are channeled through authorized government agencies in order to ensure guarantee for the contracts. “We are taking stringent action against illegal recruiting agents. But in India, the law and order is under the jurisdiction of each state. We have already instructed states to take appropriate action. The Protector-General of Emigrants will be visiting Kuwait soon to discuss and find solution to various immigration issues and plug loopholes in the recruitment system,” the minister added. The government is establishing suitable checks at the country’s various airports in order to stop human trafficking, the minister said. “Today, all Indian missions abroad are sharing immigration data so that they know how many people are travelling out of the country,” he said. Later, the minister addressed a gathering of Indian community representatives at the embassy auditorium and discussed a range issues pertaining to the community.
news
08-09-2016
Kuwait keen on protecting expats’ rights: Minister
KUWAIT: Kuwait pays great attention to protecting rights of expat workers and their employers in line with international terms, Minister of Social Affairs and Labor Hind Al-Subaih said yesterday. Kuwait signed cooperation protocols with source countries of expat workers, and has established electronic link systems with them countries for a smoother sharing of information, said Subaih, who is also Minister of State for Planning and Development Affairs, in a statement after meeting with the UN ‘s Special Rapporteur on trafficking in persons Maria Grazia yesterday. The two sides discussed several topics of mutual concern. Meanwhile, Subaih pointed to establishing the Public Authority for Manpower (PAM) and the Kuwaiti center for sheltering foreign workers to resolve problems facing expats, and providing them with better living conditions. In the same context, PAM Acting Director General Abdullah Al- Motawtah also met with Grazia and an accompanying delegation, offering them thorough information on PAM’s projects on human rights and fighting human trafficking. —KUNA
news
07-09-2016
Should maids undergo psychiatric tests before taking UAE jobs? Proposal to subject domestic workers to psychological tests before coming to the country
A proposal is being mulled for potential housemaids to the UAE to bring good conduct certificates as well as medical reports declaring them free of any mental illnesses from their home countries before they can land a job here. Salem Al Nar Al Shehi, head of the Defense, the Interior and Foreign Affairs Committee in the Federal National Council, explained that a proposal would be submitted to the Federal National Council in the next session. A report in Arabic daily Emarat Al Youm said that Al Shehi will also call for extending the warranty period of the recruitment offices for up to one year instead of three months. Al-Shehi told the daily that there is a need to follow up on the psychological health of domestic workers particularly since the warranty submitted by labour supply offices ranges between three and four months only. He added that there have been instances where such agencies have ensured that domestic workers are obedient during the test period, but later fled from their employers. He noted that sponsors face significant financial losses for returning disobedient domestic workers after the warranty period. He explained that a sponsor typically incurs between Dh15,000 and Dh20,000 for hiring a domestic worker through an agency, but s/he stands to lose that amount if the worker is found unfit to work after the initial warranty period. He added that some domestic workers have caused severe problems due to lack of rehabilitation and lack of psychiatric examination, and that a database should be maintained of such workers. He pointed out that the database must not be confined to the UAE but should be used across the GCC countries. He noted that, at present, workers deported from the UAE, can enter some neighbouring countries and find jobs. Al Shehi said that his proposal came after several meetings with citizens and residents to explore their opinions about problems facing domestic workers. He pointed out that some people expressed a lack of confidence in the accuracy or validity of the information recorded in the passports of domestic workers, or any documents and certificates issued by their countries of origin.
news
06-09-2016
Renewed calls in Oman to link mid-day break to temperature
Muscat: Mid-day breaks for workers in open areas should be linked to temperature rather than over a set period of time, according to trade union leaders and workers. Get your essential daily briefing delivered direct to your email inbox with our e-newsletter Medics have reported treating 1,000 patients in three months who are suffering from heat related illnesses and conditions as many employers do not give sun protection products to their workers. “The implementation of a mid-day break should be linked to weather conditions. It should not be for a stipulated time. It should be made flexible,” Mohammed Al Khaldi, a trade union leader in the oil sector and an official at the General Federation of Oman Trade Union, said. According to a global meteorologist, September and October will be warmer than usual in Oman and residents will have to wait until November for a more pleasant climate. “September and October look like warmer-than-normal months. It will be more seasonal in November,” Jason Nicholls, a senior meteorologist and international forecasting manager at Accuweather, said. The mid-day break is announced every year in accordance with Article 16 of the Oman Labour Law for occupational safety and health regulations, which states that workers must not work at construction sites or in open and elevated areas from 12:30pm to 3:30pm during June, July and August. “This ministerial decision was put in place to protect workers from the scorching heat during the summer. It was implemented on humanitarian grounds,” said the trade union leader. “Following the rule for only three months without considering weather conditions, is not good,” the trade union leader said, adding that the law is something one can refer to, but in practical terms the hot weather can extend beyond the deadline for the ban on work ending. This year’s three month-long mid-day break, which began on June 1, came to an end on August 31, and some 254 companies were warned and four fined during the course of 2,332 inspections. According to Ministry of Manpower data shared with the Times of Oman, in June, 162 companies were issued warning letters and three more were fined. “In July, 70 warning letters were issued and one was fined. In August, 18 warnings were issued,” the official data revealed. According to Article 118 of the Oman Labour Law, violators can be penalised with fines ranging from OMR100 to OMR500, or a jail term of not more than one month, or both. The penalty is doubled for repeat violations. In 2015, 391 companies were warned by the ministry for violating the mid-day break rule for outdoor workers in Oman. An official from the ministry said the mid-day break is announced according to law and it is difficult to comment on whether it would be extended or not. Meanwhile, a medic in Muscat said he has treated at least 1,000 patients, who are suffering from heat-related ailments conditions during the last three months. “Out of the 70 patients, whom I treat daily, 10 to 15 are suffering from heat related ailments. So, during the last three months, I have treated more than 1,000 patients,” Shibu Mohammed, a dermatologist at Badr Al Samaa in Ruwi, told the Times of Oman. Heat-related ailments Medicines for heat-related ailments are not covered under insurance, which makes the workers reluctant to pay from their pocket and this eventually worsens their condition. “The majority of them come back to me, with worsened conditions, then I supply them sample packets, which medical representatives provide me. Companies should at least try to cover their treatment and medicines for heat-related ailments,” he added. Vijay George, a medic in Salalah, also said he had treated at least 1,000 workers with sunburns and other heat-related ailments between April and the end of June. “In Salalah, summer comes early. So, we have had patients coming to us since April, who are suffering from heat-related ailments. At least eight to 10 patients used to visit me daily up until the beginning of July,” George, a dermatologist at the Atlas Hospital in Salalah, said. Sunil Kumar, a project engineer at Najmat Al Fujairah Trading, said they take care of workers’ health and provide a break if the weather conditions are bad. “We give first preference to workers’ health. If the weather conditions are not favourable, then we change the timings. We give them a break and c
news
05-09-2016
Labor market changes behind fall in remittance
JEDDAH: Labor market changes, new nationalization policies, fears of taxes on remittances and slowdown in some sectors, particularly construction, are the reasons behind the fall in expat remittances from SR157 billion last year to SR90 billion this year, said experts. According to Fahad Al-Salmi, member of the board of the Jeddah Chamber of Commerce and Industry, serious nationalization efforts in sectors, such as telecom, have resulted in more employment of Saudis. “More attention needs to be given to the retail sector where more than 1.7 million jobs do not require special qualifications. Besides, the private sector should be convinced on the importance of supporting nationalization plans. Vision 2030 is aimed at providing at least four million jobs to nationals, which means the more jobs should be generated,” he told local media. Salim Bajajh, an economist, said that the recent news about the possibility of imposing fees on remittances will reinstate fears among some workers sending money home, particularly the cash earned from additional work. “This will move expats away from official channels in banks for such transfers.” Nationalization, such as that of the telecom sector, may reduce the incidence of commercial cover-up as well, which creates significant losses to the national economy of around SR200 billion annually, he said. Bajajh said the imposition of fees on transfer of sponsorship will encourage expatriate workers to spend their money locally and reduce commercial cover-up practices. Omar Abu Al-Khair, an investor in the construction sector, said the decline in remittances can be attributed to the declining projects, especially in the construction and contracting sector, as more than two million workers are employed in the sector. “Directing some of these investments inwardly will have a significant and positive impact on liquidity, especially if combined with establishment of new small businesses to employ young people,” he said.
news
03-09-2016
Iranian plot to sabotage Saudi-India ties foiled
A SWIFT and tactical move by India has put paid to the Iranian trickery of sowing distrust in the strong and time-tested relations between Riyadh and New Delhi. A recent Iranian and Hezbollah-backed Lebanese Al-Alam news channel report claimed that Indian Foreign Minister Sushma Swaraj has allegedly played down the current visit of Deputy Crown Prince Muhammad Bin Salman, second deputy premier and minister of defense, to Japan and China as insignificant and meaningless. The report on the channel’s English website also claimed that the Indian foreign minister had said that India was not concerned with the visit and did not expect that it would achieve any strategic results. Vikas Swarup, spokesman of the Indian foreign ministry, was quick to rebut the report. The news channel cited a Swaraj interview with the mass-circulation Hindustan Times newspaper. “I wish to warn China against the dubious movements of Prince Muhammad which are backed by the United States,” Swaraj allegedly said according to the channel. According to the report channel, Swaraj said the Indian diplomacy was aware of the prince’s movements and had informed the Saudi embassy in New Delhi of this. The Indian Foreign Ministry was quick to foil the machinations of Hezbollah and the Iranian regime to fail the Saudi efforts, damage relations between India and the Kingdom and involve Pakistan, China and Japan in the ferocious media game Iran was trying to play. In a tweet on Thursday, the Indian Foreign Ministry spokesman categorically denied the report. “The statements attributed to the foreign minister are based on lies. They are totally incorrect and fabricated,” he wrote. He said the foreign minister did not give any interview to the Hindustan Times. On its part, the newspaper denied publishing any interview with the foreign minister. Saudi Ambassador to New Delhi, Saud Al-Satti told Okaz/Saudi Gazette that the relationship between Saudi Arabia and India are strategic and ever-progressing and that the two sides are determined to develop them further in all aspects. “The attempts of the enemies to seed dissension between India and Saudi Arabia are doomed to failure because their bilateral relations are strong and built on solid bases,” he said. “The Saudi-India ties are not an easy nut to crack,” the ambassador said. Meanwhile reliable sources said the Iranian lobby in South Asia was trying to fail the Saudi efforts to bring peace to the region. They said the lobby’s fabricated allegations against Prince Muhammad’s drive toward the east would never succeed.
news
31-08-2016
Oil price slip puts Oman construction sector on the skids
Muscat: Oman is facing a construction crisis, according to the Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of an Omani contractors association. Shahswar G Al Balushi, CEO of the Oman Society of Contractors, said difficult conditions will persist in the construction sector until oil prices — and therefore the economy — recover. “Due to the oil price dip, there are no new projects coming up in Oman. In addition to that, companies carrying out existing projects are facing big trouble with cash inflows, which will eventually lead to salary delays and other issues. “I can’t reveal any numbers, but it is sure that there is a crisis and its worsening when compared with the previous years,” Al Balushi stated. The oil price crisis is hurting cash inflows for construction companies leaving their workers stranded for months without salaries in Oman. A Muscat-based company had to send back 75 workers with one-way tickets without clearing pending salaries and other benefits. At the same company, 125 workers have been stranded without salaries for the last eight months. “Lack of projects due to the current economic conditions led by the oil price crisis, bills stuck with clients and banks, disputes over ownership and instances of fund misappropriations have put us neck deep in trouble,” the Human Resource Director of the company said, on condition of anonymity. “Meeting daily demands is a big problem,” he added. Staff and salaries, including that of the HR boss, have not been paid since January. When the crisis started, the company had repatriated 75 workers, who were ready to give up pending salaries and take an air ticket home. However, a few who have stayed back in the hope of receiving unpaid salaries are now worried about food and accommodation. The company had an annual turnover of OMR2 million last year. This year, only one project is running and that too will end in the coming months. “So far, with loans from here and there, we have been able to take care of food for workers. But water and power bills are pending. Soon, they may be disconnected,” the HR manager added. Article 51 of the Oman Labour Law states that employees, who receive their salaries on a monthly basis, should be paid once a month at least. Mohammed Farji, a trade union leader in Oman, also said he had come across a similar case last month in Sohar. “Around 150 expatriate workers were stranded without salaries for six continuous months. When the workers approached us, we met with the employer and found an amicable solution to get the workers their dues,” the trade union leader said, adding that workers denied salary and other rights should approach unions and the Ministry of Manpower. Meanwhile, workers at the Muscat-based company said they had stayed back hoping that the company will overcome the crisis and pay their salaries. “We have liabilities to be taken care of back at home. We cannot just give up eight months’ salary and leave the country empty handed. In addition to salary, aren’t we eligible for other benefits too? We are just asking for our basic rights,” the workers said. The workers had approached the Indian embassy in July and the Labour Dispute Department as directed by the embassy. “With the embassy letter, we approached the Labour Dispute Department, but the company officials did not turn up for the settlement hearing. “Eventually, the case will be forwarded to court. We don’t know how long we will have to wait for the salary,” a worker, who was employed as a foreman in the company, said. On June 1, the Ministry of Manpower had launched its complaint portal. In just 27 days, despite it only being accessible in Arabic, 512 people have used it. On August 23, the ministry said Omani and expat workers all across the country will be able to submit labour complaints against their employers online starting from September.
news
30-08-2016
No grace period for 2nd phase of telecom Saudization
DAMMAM — The Ministry of Labor and Social Development denied rumors that it will extend the grace period for implementing the second phase of the plan to replace all expat workers with Saudis in the telecom sector. A source said the Ministry of Labor and Social Development will commence its second phase of the Saudization of the telecommunication sector on Friday. “The second phase includes the Saudization of 100 percent of the telecommunication sector. The plan is to offer more jobs for Saudis in the field of mobile phone repair and sales,” said the source. The source also said the ministry also encouraged Saudi men and women to open their own businesses in the sector. “Twitter users have popularized the hashtag #saudizing_telecommunication_sector. Using the hashtag the users are demanding all obstacles facing Saudis from working in the sector to be removed. The sector was dominated by expatriates and there were seldom any Saudis working in mobile repair or mobile sales,” said the source. The source also said the hashtag encourages more Saudis to contribute to the ministry’s Saudization plan. The Human Resources Fund has launched a program to aid and support Saudis entering the telecommunication sector. “The program gives financial aid to help Saudis open their own businesses in mobile sales and repair. The program also offers consultations and material support to facilitate the process of starting a business in the sector,” said the source.
news
29-08-2016
Labor Ministry links Services with NIC
JEDDAH: The Ministry of Labor and Social Development has linked all client and user information to the National Information Center of the Ministry of Interior so as to enhance the type and quality of services, as well as overcome challenges and make it easy to verify information about clients and beneficiaries. This announcement came during the inauguration of the unified national portal “Nafath” on Thursday in Riyadh. The portal was launched under the auspices of Labor and Social Development Minister Mufrej Al-Haqabani in the presence of Tarek Al-Shadi, director general of the National Information Center, and Deputy Minister of Labor and Social Development Ahmed Al-Humaidan. This makes the Ministry of Labor and Social Development the first government agency to be linked to the national identity system of the National Information Center. Al-Haqabani stressed the importance of this step and of the cooperation with the National Information Center in providing the information needed to serve citizens and residents. “The partnership with the National Information Center has allowed us to overcome all challenges, to reach our true institutional work and potential and serve beneficiaries,” said the ministry. Through the link with the National Information Center, Al-Haqabani said the ministry was able to resolve a large number of issues related to inaccurate information about citizens and residents, including information related to residence permits and personal identification cards. The ministry is proud to be the first government agency to be linked to the Ministry of Interior, he said, praising the leadership’s role in establishing the center in an effort to link different government sectors and help the work flow smoothly. Al-Shadi said the center was established to serve citizens and residents, and with the help of its database, new and better services can be launched. Over the next few years, there will be a transformation in the type of services offered by the National Information Center to different government agencies, he said. Through “Nafath,” beneficiaries can log into the electronic service portal of the Ministry of Labor and Social Development using the same password and log-in information used for Absher, as well as by using their national identification number. The service focuses on issuing a unified number so as to allow beneficiaries — citizens and residents alike — to access government services using this number without having to register on several different portals.
news
27-08-2016
MoI receives first batch of e-passports
KUWAIT: A delegation of the Ministry of Interior, currently on a mission in Germany, received the first batch of electronic passports from the manufacturing company in the European nation on Thursday, a senior official of the ministry declared yesterday. Major General Sheikh Mazen Al-Jarrah Al-Sabah, Assistant Undersecretary for Citizenship and Residency Affairs at the Ministry of Interior (MoI), said the delivery would reach Kuwait early next week. Others would be dispatched in stages in the coming months. Maj Gen Sheikh Mazen is in Germany, at present, along with a number of senior ministry officers for this particular task.
news
26-08-2016
New system in place to solve expats’ issues faster
RIYADH — The Ministry of Labor and Social Development announced that it has put in place a new procedure to address expatriates’ complaints quickly. Minister of Labor and Social Development Mufrej Al-Haqbani said expatriates with complaints such as delays in salaries can now lodge their complaints and have their problems settled quickly. “The ministry will provide expatriates with legal representatives to present their cases in labor courts. The ministry will defend the rights of expatriates and laborers and will not allow private establishments to get away shirking their responsibilities,” said Al-Haqbani. The minister said the labor courts take unbiased decisions and hold private establishments accountable for violations of labor rights. “The labor courts are independent entities and are unbiased in taking decisions, irrespective of nationality. It treats all plaintiffs and defendants equally and issue fair rulings in all cases. The ministry also provides lawyers to follow up with cases such as delays in salaries. Expatriates are not obliged to pay any money for the lawyer,” said Al-Haqbani. He also said the ministry is looking into providing more rights for expatriates such as food and health care. “The ministry is also looking into facilitating the return of expatriates to their countries at the expense of the Kingdom. The ministry has also facilitated the transfer of expatriates between private establishments through its online portal,” said Al-Haqbani. He said the portal also tracks the visas of the expatriates and their expiration dates so the establishments would know when would the visa of an expatriate they wish to employ expire. “The portal is only available for establishments with the green band and above in the Nitaqat system. Establishments below the green band must work to reach the green band in order to get access to the portal,” said Al-Haqbani. Meanwhile, the Ministry of Labor and Social Development is preparing, with the ministries of Interior, Commerce and Industry, Municipal and Rural Affairs and Telecommunication and Information Technology, for the third phase of Saudization of the telecommunication sector. “The third phase for 100 percent Saudization of the telecom sector with start Sept. 2. The Ministry of Labor and Social Development alongside the Human Resources Development Fund, the Technical and Vocational Training Corporation, the General Organization for Social Insurance and the Saudi Credit and Savings Bank have trained a total of 40,000 Saudis in preparation for the first phase of the plan, which was to Saudize the sector by 50 percent,” said Khalid Abalkhail, the ministry’s official spokesman. He said the number of graduates so far is 22,516 Saudi men and women. “The ministry also provided online courses for Saudis living in areas where it is hard to find a training center. The number of graduates from these courses reached 16,502. At least 930 of the graduates were employed and 750 of them started their own businesses,” said Abalkhail.
news
25-08-2016
Fake domestic help office busted
UWAIT: Residency detectives arrested several expats running a bogus domestic help office in Jleeb Al-Shuyiukh. Tips were received about the office, and when the information was confirmed, detectives to arrest the suspects. Five Ethiopians, five Cameroonians, three Ghanaians and three Beninese were without IDs, while six were reported absconding by their sponsors. The arrestees confessed that they work on daily wages at homes, and engage in vice acts when they do not find work. Fugitive busted Interior Ministry Relations and Security Information Department said criminal detectives arrested a bedoon wanted to serve jail sentences totaling 13 years. Detectives located Zaidan Nuhayer and followed him for two days, then on Tuesday night, they went to arrest him. He attempted to escape through the roofs of neighboring homes, but he was arrested and sent to concerned authorities. Department relocated The Interior Ministry’s Relations and Security Information Department announced yesterday that the Mubarak Al-Kabeer residency affairs department will move to a new building in Subhan today. No injuries in fires Firefighters dealt with a fire in a Sulaibiya house yesterday, Kuwait Fire Service Directorate’s (KFSD) Public Relations and Information said. Sulaibikhat and Doha fire centers responded and found the fire was in the kitchen of the house. The fire was put out, and no injuries were reported. Meanwhile, fire broke out in a vehicle on Sixth Ring Road near Saad Al-Abdullah. Jahra occupational fire center responded and put out the fire. No injuries were reported.
news
24-08-2016
Over 1,250 violations of work ban under sun found
DAMMAM: As part of inspection campaigns to implement midday work bans, inspectors of the Ministry of Labor and Social Development have detected 1,253 violations amid the enforcement of the midday work ban, when outdoor workers were found working under the hot sun during the period from June 15 to Aug. 18. Fahad Al-Owaidi, deputy minister for inspection and development of work environment at the ministry, said: “During 1,526 tours, inspection teams tracked down 1,253 establishments which were reluctant to comply with the regulation implemented across various parts of the Kingdom.” Moreover, the Saudi Labor and Social Development Ministry recently issued a decision that prohibits allowing the employee to work under the direct sun from 12 noon to 3 p.m., during the period from June 15 to Sept. 15 every year.
news
23-08-2016
Workers from subcontinent dominate private sector jobs
BURAIDAH — Workers from three subcontinent countries mainly India, Pakistan and Bangladesh are dominating jobs in the private sector together representing about 55.8 percent of the sector’s entire workforce especially in the major cities such as Riyadh, Makkah Province and the Eastern region, Makkah daily reported on Monday quoting a latest statistical report by the Ministry of Labor and Social Development. The report said the Saudis, with 1.8 million employees, represent about 16.7 percent of the private sector’s workforce. According to the report, out of 10.8 million expatriates, about nine million of them, representing 83.3 percent, are working in the Saudi lobar market. The Indians with 2.1 millions, representing 24 percent, top all other nationalities employed by the private sector followed by 1.94 million Pakistanis (21 percent) and 972,000 Bangladeshis (10.8 percent). Rashid Al-Fouzan, an economic analyst, believes that the low pay and the ability of these workers to work under difficult conditions, made them favorite of being employed by the private sector. “The subcontinent citizens can work in hard jobs demanding physical prowess such as construction and contracting,” he said. Fouzan also said the Asian workers take the jobs from which the Saudis usually shy away such as cleaning and maintenance. “Other reasons include the abundance of these workers who can easily satisfy the requirements of the Saudi labor market,” he added. Fouzan said these three nationalities are the largest among expatriates in most of the countries not the Kingdom alone. According to him, the absence of the African manpower is due to the restrictive recruitment rules in their own countries in addition to the fact that they mostly favor Europe and other countries in the West. Fouzan said the abundance of the Asian workers in the Kingdom is also due to the fact that their countries encourage them to migrate to make more money, their comparatively cheap price, their quick integration in the society and their ability to work under pressure. Khaled Al-Othaim, chairman of the contractors’ committee at the Qasim Chamber of Commerce and Industry said the employers are usually looking for less costly workers who are at the same time qualified and skillful. “The sector of contracting keeps the majority of these three nationalities,” he said. According to him, the noticeable absence of workers from China, Nepal and other Asian and African countries is due to the difficulty of recruitment and the lack of marketing offices.
news
22-08-2016
Visa-free travel: How many countries can you visit without a visa? Hike in the number of countries that allow UAE nationals to enter without a visa
Ninety-one countries allow UAE nationals to enter their territory without requiring a prior visa, Al Bayan newspaper reported. That number has received a boost after Sudan and Botswana recently decided to exempt UAE nationals of visa requirements to enter their borders. The report also said that 13 countries offer visa on arrival to UAE nationals through airports or ports of entry or online. Meanwhile, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation confirmed that the number of Arab countries that UAE nationals can enter without a visa currently stands at 14 countries. These countries are Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, Bahrain, Qatar, and Sultanate of Oman, Syria, Tunisia, Egypt, Jordan, Lebanon, Morocco, Yemen, Comoros and Sudan. The number of African countries, that allow citizens without a visa has increased to six countries, including Botswana, Eritrea, Seychelles, Mauritius, Swaziland, and Senegal. In Asia, the number of countries that exempt UAE citizens from prior visa is 17, including Singapore, Malaysia, Philippines, Thailand, Hong Kong, Kazakhstan, Korea, Brunei, and Kyrgyzstan. Among the Asian states are six countries that grant visa-on-arrival facility to UAE citizens, and these countries are Indonesia, Bangladesh, Armenia, Azerbaijan, Nepal, Maldives. In addition, both Sri Lanka and Tajikistan grant online visas to UAE citizens. On the other hand, 44 countries in Europe exempt UAE nationals from visa requirements, and these countries are Austria, Belgium, Denmark, Sweden, Malta, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Poland, Lithuania, Latvia, Greece, Iceland, Italy, Slovakia, Czech Republic, Switzerland, Luxembourg, the Netherlands, Hungary, Slovenia, Croatia, Bulgaria, Romania, Liechtenstein, White Russia, Cyprus, Norway, Portugal, Spain, Vatican, Andorra, San Marino, the Principality of Monaco, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Kosovo, Macedonia, Montenegro, Albania and Serbia, Georgia. In addition, UAE nationals can get online visas to Britain and Northern Ireland and Turkey. The number of states that exempt citizens of visas for their territories in North and South Americas and Pacific is 10, including 2 countries that offer the visa-on-arrival facility, which are Cook Islands and Niue Islands. Also, Australia grants its visa to the UAE citizens electronically and the other 7 countries allowing to the UAE citizens to enter their countries without a visa are Guatemala, Panama, Colombia, Ecuador, Fiji Islands, New Zealand, Antigua and Barbuda.
news
20-08-2016
Ministry criticizes recruitment firm for displaying housemaids
DAMMAM — A recruitment company displayed housemaids in a shopping center as part of product display on Saturday. Ministry of Labor and Social Development spokesman Khalid Abalkhail said the ministry condemns such a disgraceful act and will investigate the incident. “The company displayed a number of housemaids next to its kiosk in a shopping center in the Eastern Province. The company was displaying the maids as part of a marketing strategy to attract customers. However, the visitors of the shopping center found the sight extremely degrading for the maids standing there as if they were objects,” said Abalkhail. He added the incident caused an outrage on social media for such an ill treatment of women in the shopping center. Lawyer Turki Al-Musa said the incident is definitely a form of human trafficking and not just a business violation. “The Saudi Human Trafficking Law states that mistreating or degrading a person, whoever they may be and whatever age or gender, they have to submit to the abuser. The mistreatment may include verbal and physical abuse, threatening, blackmailing, kidnapping or exploiting the person, abusing authority to control the person or bribing the person in any way in order to sexually assault the person, put him or her under forced labor, force the person to beg, enslave the person, remove an organ or run medical experiments on the person,” said Al-Musa. He added the penalty for human trafficking is imprisonment of up to 15 years or a fine worth SR1 million. Lawyer Saeed Al-Dakheel said displaying a human being as if he or she is an object is disgraceful to the human’s dignity and freedom. “Displaying the housemaids as if they were the object on sale to be rented out or sold out is a great mistreatment and it is against human dignity and human values,” said Al-Dakheel.
news
20-08-2016
Indian minister with workers in their camp
Indian Minister of State for External Affairs Gen. (Rtd.) V. K. Singh addresses a group of Indian workers at the Saudi Oger labor camp in Shumaisi on the outskirts of Makkah on Wednesday. The minister returned to the Kingdom second time in the last 10 days to reassure the workers who have not been paid for the last eight months.
news
17-08-2016
Dubai residence visa for newborn: Grace period, fines, salary required Minimum salary to sponsor a child should be Dh3,000 basic along with allowances
If you are a resident in Dubai and have had your baby here, you should get a resident visa for the new born within 120 days of birth to avoid paying fines and hassles that may follow once you breach this grace period. The rules for getting such a visa for a newborn is same for all expat residents. However, the requirements may vary slightly if the sponsor parent works for the private sector, government or in one of the free zones in Dubai. Mandatory documents required According to General Directorate of Residency and Foreigners Affairs in Dubai, if you work in the private sector in the city, here’s the list of documents that should be in place before you visit one of their branches. For the child, you will need to get an application form duly filled from a tying centre; 2 photos, the baby’s original passport along with his/her UAE birth certificate. The registration form of Emirates ID for the baby is also needed. The sponsor parent’s and the mother’s passport copy with resident visa page are required along with their Emirates ID. Your attested tenancy contract, latest Dewa bill, Labour contact of the company (if you are working in the private sector) is mandatory. Minimum salary of the sponsor To be an eligible parent to sponsor, your minimum salary should be Dh3,000-Dh4,000 basic, along with allowances. Grace period and fines The authorities in Dubai allow a period of 120 days to the parents to get the resident visa for the baby after the birth. Failing to get the visa stamped during this time-frame will lead to a daily fine of Dh25, which will have to be paid while applying for the visa. Once the application is accepted, it normally takes two to three days for the visa to be processed and stamped on the passport.
news
16-08-2016
Expats wake up to new visa fees
JEDDAH — The restructured visa fee for expats, pilgrims and tourists announced on Monday became a hot topic internationally and has sparked a lot of conversations among residents here. Many expats who spoke to Saudi Gazette applauded the visa fee revision that allows the first entry of Haj and Umrah pilgrims to be free. “I know Haj is supposed to be done once in lifetime. So the fee for second pilgrimage makes room for those who have not performed Haj,” said Saud Ibrahim, a travel manager in Jeddah. “We are working toward a strong economy and this move helps strengthen the country. We welcome the move especially when the country has given expats so much more be it subsidized gas or means for a better standard of living,” said Shaji N. Siddiqui, General Manager at Golden Travels in Jeddah. For large expat families who have children studying or living abroad the revision has thrown up challenges. “I have three kids studying in India. I used to pay SR200 for each, because they came once a year but now for their exit re-entry I have to pay an additional SR1,100. They come during their summer vacation and that is the only time I can even afford to bring them here. Now from SR600 I am going to have to pay SR 3,300 if they are to stay on my iqama (residence permit). If I can’t afford to keep up, I think I will have to give up their iqama,” said Syed AbdulRahman, a salesman in Jeddah. As for multiple trips, the exit re-entry fee will be SR 500 for three months. SR 200 will be charged for each additional month till the validity of residence permit. The change in structure also included a new SR300 transit fee for passengers traveling through Saudi Arabia. “For those of us coming from the US or Canada, we were saving money on routes using stop overs in Saudi Arabia, to go back home. But now my family of five will be paying SR1,500 just for transit. I think the ticket prices might go up,” said Jihan Ahsan, an overseas student living in Canada. Businessmen are worried about the additional cost the increase may incur for expat workers. “It will add cost per employee. I mean SR100 extra if they want to extend their stay. None of the employees here feel it much because the companies are responsible for their travel costs,” said Fahim Ansari, a Saudi businessman in Al-Khobar.
news
13-08-2016
Visa fees revised Traffic violation penalties made tougher
JEDDAH – The Council of Ministers, chaired by Crown Prince Muhammad Bin Naif, Deputy Premier and Minister of Interior, on Monday took a series of decisions to revise visa fees and penalties for traffic violations. The revised fees will come into force from Oct. 2 (Muharram 1). Exit and reentry visa fee for residents will be SR200 for a single trip for two months. SR100 will be charged for each additional month till the validity of residence permit (iqama). Exit and reentry visa fee for multiple trips will be SR500 for three months. SR200 will be charged for each additional month till the validity of residence permit. The first entry of Haj and Umrah pilgrims will be free, but for second entry they will be charged SR2,000. Foreigners visiting the Kingdom will be charged SR3,000 for a six-month multiple entry visa, SR5,000 for one-year multiple entry visa, and SR8,000 for two-year multiple entry visa. Transit visa fee has been fixed at SR300. Exit visa fee for anyone leaving the Kingdom through its seaports will be SR50. Traffic violation penalties made tougherThe Cabinet also approved amendment to Article 69 of the Traffic Law so as to make stunt driving a traffic violence for which violators will face the seizure of vehicle for 15 days and a fine of SR20,000 for first violation, the seizure of vehicle for 30 days and a fine of SR40,000 for second violation. In both cases, the violator will be referred to the court to examine carrying out jail term. For third violation, the vehicle will be seized and a fine of SR60,000 will be slapped, and the violator will be referred to the court. The seizure or confiscation of vehicle will not be applicable to rented or stolen vehicles. The Cabinet also approved amendment to the Article 70 by which anyone who seizes driving license or vehicle registration card (istimara) of another person or gives it on mortgage will face a fine of not less than SR1,000 and not more than SR2,000. The Cabinet also amended the Traffic Law by adding three paragraphs to the Article 68. Crown Prince Muhammad Bin Naif, Deputy Premier and Minister of Interior, chairs the weekly session of the Cabinet at Al-Salam Palace in Jeddah on Monday. — SPAAny driver involved in an accident will have to stop the vehicle at the scene and take the initiative to inform the competent department and provide possible assistance to those injured in the accident. If he fails to do so, he will be fined a maximum of SR10,000 or imprisoned for a term not exceeding three months, or both. The Cabinet also approved increasing the tariff for billboard advertising.
news
12-08-2016
Over 500 companies offer option to work from home
MADINAH – The Ministry of Labor and Social Development revealed that 512 companies in 70 cities around the Kingdom are offering new businesses called freelance jobs, or entrepreneurships, that allow individuals to work remotely from home. The jobs are for those who have special skills that multiple companies need and are suitable for women, people with special needs and those who cannot travel to business headquarters. One Saudi designer, Abdullah Al-Husseini, said thanks to technology there is no need for personal interviews any more to convince the employer with one’s abilities and skills. “Once the applicant sends a cover letter to the employer with documents to support education and work experience, it is enough to convince the company to accept or reject the person,” Al-Husseini said. One Saudi who works from home, Anwar Al-Jilani, said: “Working from home means owning one’s freedom, but it does not come without risks. Workers in such fields must have suitable work environments at home so that if things got out of hand, the employer will become aware of the situation immediately because companies depend on these workers in fulfilling their projects.” IT expert Adel Al-Qahtani said there are numerous websites that keep track of qualified personnel and specialists and provide economic consultancy and analysis from home. These companies monitor the paid employee and share the salary payments with the company in charge. Social activist Fatima Habib said the Internet is filled with advertisements for various jobs, such as e-commerce, which has become popular online. Social researcher Amani Al-Olayan said working from home was not for everyone. “It requires three remarkable qualities — enthusiasm to finish the required work, respect for schedules and lack of lethargy that leads to accumulation of work,” she said. Recent reports from websites like Elance and Odesk revealed that in the United States up to 34 percent of those using the sites rely on self-employment online as a major source of income. The report added that Facebook had conducted several recent studies on plans the companies are currently working on to allow employees to work from home.
news
11-08-2016
Dhaka thanks king for lifting ban on workers.
RIYADH: The Ministry of Labor and Social Development has lifted the ban on the recruitment of Bangladeshi workers as of Wednesday. The ban was in force for the past six years except for the Bangla domestic helps. Delighted over the new development, Bangladesh Ambassador Golam Moshi told Arab News that this is good news for all prospective workers from his country. The envoy recalled that opening the recruitment channels from Bangladesh is subsequent to the meeting between Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques King Salman and Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina in June. He said the new decision would pave the way for all categories of Bangladeshi workers which include skilled, unskilled, professionals such as doctors, nurses, teachers, farm and construction workers. “We are thankful to Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques King Salman for allowing us to resume recruitment,” Moshi said, adding that the Kingdom has always stood with Bangladesh in good times and bad. Currently, there are some 60,000 female domestics among the 1.3 million Bangladeshi workers in the Kingdom. “Visas for male domestics were issued only from June, and there is a sizable number coming into the Kingdom regularly,” he said, adding that 6,000 female workers on average are arriving in the Kingdom per month. “We have around 48 categories of workers serving in all parts of the Kingdom,” the official added. In January, Minister of Labor Mufrej Al-Haqabani and Bangladesh Minister for Expatriates’ Welfare and Overseas Employment Nurul Islam decided to increase the number of Bangla housemaids. Both ministers agreed to enhance cooperation in the manpower sector by addressing issues to reduce migration cost, imparting training to Saudi-bound workers, and recruiting more male workers for mutual benefits.
news
11-08-2016
New fees cover all visas.
JEDDAH: The Foreign Ministry said that the new fees approved on Monday by the Cabinet would cover all visas, including work and visit visas, noting that it excludes what is within agreements concluded between the Kingdom and other countries. Tameem Al-Dosari, the deputy undersecretary for consular affairs at the Foreign Ministry, said that the fees are for all visas issued by the Kingdom abroad, such as work visas and visit visas, pointing out that the decision stated that the Kingdom will bear the fees for first-time Haj and Umrah pilgrimages. Al-Dosari added that the contents of bilateral agreements concluded between the Kingdom and other countries are excluded from the new visa regime, because this is in the national interest and every sovereign state has to consider its interests. Manpower expert Nawaf Dhubaib said that the decision to amend visa fees for foreigners, which will reduce the competition between foreign workers and Saudi workers in the labor market, besides raising Saudi earnings by increasing the costs of the foreigners, was not surprising. Dhubaib, a member of the Arabian Society for Human Resources, explained in a statement to a local publication on Tuesday, that this decision will create competition. He stressed that there are two types of categories of foreigners targeted in this decision: under training unskilled workers and managers and specialists. He stated that foreign employees have in their companies a party that will bear the costs of visas. “This will increase the load on employers, and will force them to let these workers go and replace them with Saudi workers.” He explained that some workers come to the Kingdom considering that it is a training place for a certain period, in order into go into the labor market. Dhubaib pointed out that the other category — managers and specialists — will not be affected badly by this decision. He demanded a strict monitoring of the additional revenue generation.
news
09-08-2016
Protect workers’ rights, King orders Teams formed to monitor companies
JEDDAH — Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques King Salman issued a series of directives with the intention of resolving all cases of unpaid salaries and avoid repetition of such incidents in the Kingdom’s labor market in future, Minister of Labor and Social Development Mofrej Al-Haqbani announced on Monday. Accordingly, special teams have been constituted to closely monitor the firms to check whether they are fulfilling their contractual obligations and to intervene in case of violations, the Saudi Press Agency reported. Saudi Oger contracting company has been the subject of complaints by thousands of its workers for not paying salaries to them for the past nine months. Al-Haqbani said the recent labor issue is not a common phenomenon but a special case with a contracting company because of its violation of contractual obligations. The ministry will take penal action against the company in line with the Labor Law. The King’s directive obliges companies to pay salaries to their workers through the Wage Protection Program. Under the system, companies will not be paid for their work by the government until the Ministry of Labor and Social Development confirms that workers’ salaries have been paid on time. The minister emphasized that the Saudi Labor Law and its executive bylaw protects the rights of all workers in the private sector and the Labor Law is keen on having balanced relations between employers and employees with strict adherence to contractual obligations by both the parties in addition to protecting their wages through legislations. “Under the program, all companies have to transfer salaries to bank accounts of their workers and the ministry will strictly follow these transfers every month and take penal action against firms violating the law. The ministry allows workers, who did not receive salary for more than three months, to transfer their sponsorship to another employer without the permission of the current employer and can sue the employer at labor courts for their dues.” “Official inspection team from the ministry found that Saudi Oger Ltd. violated its contractual obligations with workers with regard to salary and accommodation. Serious lapses were found in serving food, providing health services to workers, and maintaining and cleaning accommodation. The King issued orders to end the suffering of the workers in a decisive and quick way after seeing that the company failed to address these issues. Accordingly, the ministry has taken the following measures. The workers are allowed to renew their iqamas (residency permits), and get final exit visa at the state’s expense, and the company will be liable to meet this cost in due course. The maintenance and cleaning of their accommodation have been done. The ministry also ensured continuous supply of food and drinking water to the workers and followed up on the efficiency of provision of this service. Free medical services have been made available at their camps. The ministry also entered into contracts with legal firms to offer free legal service to the workers. The ministry will guarantee rights of those workers who decided to leave on final exit. It entrusted Saudi Arabian Airlines to arrange free transportation for such workers and the payment will be levied from the company in due course. The ministry also coordinated with the concerned embassies in identifying those who want to transfer their sponsorship and those who want leave the Kingdom on final exit. Al-Haqbani also said that the ministry launched electronic service called “Mustasharik Al-Omali” to offer free consultancy service to both employers and employees on labor related problems. The ministry, in cooperation with the Saudi Telecom, introduced the scheme to distribute free SIM cards to new workers upon their arrival at airports to contact the ministry if required. The ministry also started contact center with services in eight languages so as to enable workers to lodge grievances.
news
08-08-2016
526 expats to be deported on terror charges
RIYADH — As many as 526 expatriates are to be deported after serving their prison terms on terror charges, Makkah Arabic daily quoted Justice Ministry spokesman Mansour Al-Ghifari as saying on Sunday. He said a total of 833 expatriates are currently under detention on terror charges. Deportation sentences have been issued by the Special Criminal Court in Riyadh. The spokesman said the expatriates were mainly involved in the activities of Al-Qaeda, were found to be spying for Syrian President Bashar Al-Assad, had links with Houthis and Muslim Brotherhood which the Kingdom considers as terrorist organizations. More than half of the expatriates detained on terror charges have been sentenced while the other half are still under investigation by the Bureau of Investigation and Public Prosecution (BIP) prior to standing trial. The deportation is a usual sentence for expatriates after they serve their prison terms. “Foreigners who commit terror-related crimes will be deported even if the attorney general has not asked for it,” the spokesman said. He said the judges of the Criminal Court are well- versed in issues relating to terrorism and their verdicts are usually strong to ensure the safety and stability of the country.
news
05-08-2016
Recruitment sector split over rental of domestic workers.
JEDDAH: At a time when the Ministry of Labor and Social Development has issued its new regulations on renting domestic workers for recruitment offices and firms, those in the sector voiced contradictory statements in this regard. A number of them confirmed that they will return back to practice the business during the coming few weeks, while others said this is not possible because of the limited number of countries who have approved the practice, against the majority of them who refused the rental system. Mohammad Taleb, the owner of a recruiting office in Riyadh, said all recruiting offices are getting ready to resume their activities within two weeks after the completion of renewing their licenses and documents, adding: “But the problem is that we are allowed to recruit from only one country, Bangladesh. It would be better if we had more options.” According to Majed Al-Haqqas, spokesman for recruitment offices, the rental system did not work and has failed miserably. “The system involves the option to retrieve the maid from the client to the company or office. But when the maid is frequently moved from one house to the other, she complains and goes on strike and refuses to work,” he explained. He added that the work performance level of the workers from Bangladesh is very low and problematic compared to workers from the Philippines, Indonesia and Uganda, especially in the case of the latter where its workers have been highly successful. However, Uganda recently decided to stop exporting its labor as a result of decisions of the Ministry of Labor and Social Development. Many countries refuse to send their nationals because they consider the rental system as a kind of human trafficking. Ali Al-Qurashi, a member in the Recruitment Committee at the Jeddah Chamber for Commerce and Industry demanded the provision of more countries for the recruitment process, adding: “We can no longer work in the market after the new regulations because the Philippines rejected this system, and the scarcity of labor from Bangladesh.” Meanwhile, spokesman of the Ministry of Labor and Social Development Khalid Aba Al-Khail confirmed the inspection campaigns are continuing on recruitment offices and firms to check on applications of the regulations and controls of the recruitment processes, noting that the Musaned electronic portal allows users to know the licensed recruitment offices and firms, and the nationalities and the professions available, in addition to the costs and the time needed for the arrival of the worker. He said the ministry will take strict actions and measures against violators, and will impose and implement penalties on the fake recruitment offices and firms that promote their activities on smart devices and social networking sites.
news
04-08-2016
No expat workers to be in mobile shops after Sept. 2
ABHA — The Ministry of Labor and Social Development has asserted that it will never rescind its decision to fully Saudize the telecom sector by Sept. 2. “We have no intention of postponing the implementation of the decision or extending the grace period given to mobile shop owners,” Minister of Labor and Social Development Mofrej Al-Haqbani said in exclusive statements to Okaz/Saudi Gazette. The minister was commenting on demands made by a number of investors in the sector to extend the grace period by another six months. “There will not be any expatriates in the sector after the Sept. 2 deadline. All employees of the sector will be Saudi men and women,” he said, adding that there is not even a zero chance of rescinding the decision or delaying its implementation. Haqbani expressed confidence in the ability and competence of Saudi youth to operate the sector and avail themselves of the opportunity provided to them by the government. “I hereby confirm that the telecom sector will be fully nationalized and urge citizens and expatriates to report any violation,” he said. Meanwhile, some 1,692 mobile shops in various parts of the Kingdom were closed down for violation of Saudization regulations. The ministry’s inspection teams have made about 20,984 field visits to mobile shops in various regions to check their commitment to the Saudization decision. Some 816 mobile shops were given final warning of permanent closure if they did not correct their situation, said ministry’s undersecretary Fahd Bin Abdullah Al-Owaidi. In Al-Baha, as many as 91 shops have responded to the Saudization decision but 32 shops were closed down for violations. Meanwhile, the first women only mobile shop fully operated by Saudi women was opened in Al-Rimal neighborhood in the east of Riyadh on Sunday. The owner of the shop, Abdulrahman Alhimaid, said that he has allocated a specific section to women to carry out mobile phone maintenance work in privacy. A number of economists and training instructors have commended the ministry’s decision and said it would provide huge investment opportunities for young Saudis in this sector which has annual investments of more than SR5 billion. In cooperation with the Technical and Vocational Training Corporation, the labor ministry has trained 27,983 Saudi males and females in the telecommunication sector. The trainees spent 25,300 hours in apprenticeship over three months.
news
03-08-2016
8.9m expats dominate private sector: Data
BURAIDAH — Expatriates are dominating the private sector labor market with 8.9 million expat workers against 1.8 million Saudis who represent only about 16.7 percent of the labor force in this sector. According to data released by the Ministry of Labor and Social Development, the workforce in the private sector is made up of 10.7 million of whom only 1.8 million are Saudis. The ministry said that Saudis have the upper hand in the public sector which is employing 3.4 million of them against 500,000 expatriates. The data, issued in March and made available on Monday, said that Saudis constitute about 35 percent of the entire workforce in both the public and private sector. It said the ratio of women workers in the private sector is also low as their representation is about 30 percent. According to the data, the GDP generated by the public sector represents about 17 percent against 83 percent for the private sector. It said the energy sector has topped all other sectors in the ratio of Saudization of jobs constituting 77.9 percent against 2.9 percent for agriculture which had the lowest ratio of job nationalization. Hail topped all regions in the number of women working in the private sector with 43 percent. Meanwhile, the ministry spotted 966 violations to its decision banning work under the sun during the period June 15 to July 27. The ministry’s undersecretary Fahd Al-Owaidi said a total of 829 establishments in all regions have violated the ban.
news
02-08-2016
Paid by Gregorian Calendar, Employees lost last 15 months salary after 40 years in job
JEDDAH: While most companies switched to the Gregorian calendar to pay employees’ salaries, some experts are calling for the return to the Hijri calendar. It will better serve the interests of employees who, they say, lose 15 days of salary a year, or 15 months over a 40-year professional life, due to the Gregorian calendar. Thus, they claim, that companies benefit from paying employees as per the Gregorian calendar when they pay them their end of service benefits. Hussein Al-Raqeeb, a financial analyst, said: “Employees should be compensated for the losses associated with salary payment based on the Gregorian calendar, and companies should count the retirement age based on the number of years of service as per the Hijri calendar.” He said: “Payment of salaries based on the Gregorian calendar also puts pressure on the employee during Ramadan if the days of the Gregorian month do not match with the month of Ramadan.” He explained: “Many employees are thus forced to rely on borrowing during this month, and companies save 11 days of salary payment per employee because the Gregorian year is 365 days, not 354 like the Hijri.” Al-Raqeeb said the government, despite deciding its budget based on the Gregorian calendar, issues salaries to employees based on the Hijri calendar. If a company has 2,000 employees, for example, with an average salary of SR5,000, it can save SR3.67 million per year. Companies also pay salaries on the 31st or the first day of the following month, so as not to lose days if an employee leaves before the end of the month, he said. However, according to economist Dr. Salem Bajaja, “the conversion to paying salaries based on the Gregorian calendar was very important, as it is more regular and in line with all international financial systems, especially in the banking sector”. With around 10 million foreigners working in the Kingdom, this more regulated payment system allows for better cash flows and compatibility with financial systems, despite the shortfalls of losing 11 days of wages annually, he said. Talaat Hafez, secretary of the committee of media and banking awareness, said the role of banks in the issuance of wages is to ensure compliance with agreements between banks and concerned parties regarding salary payments, regardless of the date. Government agencies have the date set on the 25th of each Hijri month, while in the private sector companies choose the date, not the banks.
news
01-08-2016
Government explains ban on new Taxi Licences
JEDDAH: The Ministry of Transport has found that the number of taxis operating in Riyadh and Jeddah are far in excess of their required number, and that this has contributed to the increasing density of traffic on the roads. Following this discovery, the ministry decided to stop granting new licenses and also adding new vehicles to the fleets of the already licensed taxi firms. Where did all these taxis come from? The ministry actually does not remember when and from where the increased number of taxis appeared. In fact, this discovery by the ministry on the increased numbers of taxis has nothing to do with the increasing traffic density on the roads. It came after the entry of a new taxi service equipped with the system to direct the vehicles, and although this newcomer has already been running on the roads for some time now, the ministry said they have not yet acquired the necessary permits. The ministry also announced that citizens are allowed to operate their private cars as taxis via smartphone applications without referring to whether their work will be legal or not, or the terms and conditions to practice the activity, and the responsibility of the ministry in this regard. The ministry said the regulation will limit the random roaming of taxis on the roads as it will lead to the restructuring of the sector.
news
30-07-2016
Unpaid for 7 months, workers hold protest.
JEDDAH: Hundreds of protesting Saudi Oger employees, demanding unpaid wages from the company for over seven months, were dispersed by police. The employees caused traffic disruptions in northern Jeddah and shut down a gas station. Col. Atti Al-Qurashi, Makkah region police spokesman, said the issue of unpaid wages concerns the Ministry of Labor and Social Development, whereas the duty of the police is to maintain public security and break up such large gatherings and demonstrations. Khaled Aba Al-Khail, ministry’s spokesman, said the problem is related to delayed salaries and a clarification will be given at a later date; however attempts to obtain a statement from the ministry’s branch in the region were unsuccessful, said a report. Ahmed Al-Ghamdi, media director at the ministry’s branch in the Makkah region, said in a previous statement that the services of the company were suspended for violating the Wage Protection Law and that several visits were made to the company to finalize procedures related to payment of all employees and to end travel procedures for those with terminated contracts. He confirmed standard fines and penalties were slapped on the company for such violations.
news
29-07-2016
5 million expats earn salaries below SR1,000
RIYADH — Nearly 5 million expatriates working in the Kingdom earn less than SR1,000 a month, according to official records. More than 2.5 million non-Saudi workers receive monthly salaries of SR500 or below while the salaries of 2.3 million of them are less than SR1,000, Al-Watan daily reported on Thursday quoting an official report by the General Organization for Social Insurance (GOSI). According to the report, 34,351Saudis are paid less than SR2,000 a month while the salaries of 1,28,428 of Saudis do not exceed SR3,000. It said some 250,000 Saudis and 230,000 expatriates receive salaries of SR10,000 and above.
news
28-07-2016
Fake employment deprives disabled of aid.
JEDDAH: Despite warnings and threats to punish employers who abuse people with disabilities, some still fail to comply. One such employer is a contracting company that uses ghost handicapped employees in an attempt to get benefits. The people whose names appear in the company’s registers are thus deprived of the government benefits they are entitled to. Among the 20 such people six have visual disabilities. They are also deprived of social insurance payments after the company used their names as employees for one month without their knowledge. They expressed incredulity at the deceit. Mohammad Tareq Al-Asheilan, 32, said he applied for annual aid a few years ago, and when he went to the social security department in June, he was asked for his bank account. Upon registering his account, the employee told him he was not qualified for aid because he had a job and was registered for social security. At the General Organization of Social Insurance (GOSI) he found his name registered as an employee of a contracting company. He filed a complaint with the labor office and the social security department, but they did not respond. He said the labor office did not offer any solution to his case, and told him to take legal action. He also complained of difficult living conditions since all financial aid was stopped. Mohammad Al-Shahri said he was surprised in June when he did not receive his social security aid because he was registered as an employee with a contracting company, to his total dismay. He said he was employed by a contracting company two years ago, so his name was probably used again by the firm. Hassan Al-Zubeidi had the same problem with the same contracting company. He wondered how the obtained his personal data. Mohammad Tawfiq, an activist for the visually impaired and a member of the board of directors of Ibsar Society, called on the appropriate bodies to punish the violating company. He said the company should compensate the people it deceitfully used by paying their wages for the period of their fake employment.
news
27-07-2016
New UAE decree: Employee wages fully paid within 10 days of due date If firms fail ministry will stop granting any additional work permits 16 days from date of delay
The Ministry of Human Resources and Emiratisation has launched a new Decree to ensure employees’ wages are fully paid within a period not exceeding 10 days from the due date as registered in the WPS, wage protection system, the Decree will come into force in October, 2016. Saqr bin Ghobash Saeed Ghobash, Minister of Human Resources and Emiratisation, said that companies employing over 100 workers must pay wages within a period not exceeding 10 days. If they fail, the ministry will stop granting them any additional work permits starting from the 16th day from the date of delay. "Two main things should be considered in this matter: firstly, salary delays occur usually if the company fails to pay wages a month from the due date, the second, which refers to completely refraining wages, starts after entering into the second month, however, the Decree shall refer to each case in a different matter," he said. The Decree states that if a company delays wages by one month from the due date, which means the company has entered into the refrainment phase, the ministry shall inform the judicial authorities and other related parties to take all necessary punitive measures against it, causing a complete strike against the other companies owned by the same employer, plus prohibiting the employer the ability of registering any new companies. Furthermore, if a company continues to refrain wages, the ministry shall take necessary measures to use the bank guarantee, in addition to downgrading the company into the third category and enable the workers to move to another company. "If the company fails to pay wages for 60 days from the due date, then administrative fines shall follow, not forgetting the punishments that had been already meted out for failing to pay wages a month from the due date," Ghobash added. Administrative fines hit Dh5,000 per worker’s delayed wage, up to a maximum of Dh50,000 dirhams in cases that include multiple workers complaining about delayed wages for over 60 days. On the positive side, the ministry will lift the ban from violating companies granting them the ability to apply for new work permits if they immediately pay delayed wages during the first delay month, while the ban will last for 60 days for companies that fail to pay wages for more than two months. The Decree reiterates that if a company frequently refrains salaries, the ban duration will double, after paying the wages. Additionally, if the ministry comes across any sort of salary delays or refrains by companies that employ less than one hundred workers, the current regulations shall apply, from work permit ban to fines, then public trial referral if the company fails to pay the money within 60 days. However, if the company records such violations more than once per year, then, in this case, the ministry shall apply the penalties as above for companies that employ over 100 workers. The decree clearly states that the Ministry shall not proceed with any transactions with companies that do not register for the wage protection system. In addition, it will stop dealing with the owners of these companies until they register in the system, thus ensuring that workers' rights have been met.
news
26-07-2016
No salaries, no valid Iqamas, workers stuck in Yanbu
Jeddah — A number of Asian workers in Yanbu have filed a case at the labor office for not being paid their salaries for more than a year. The sponsor has not even extend the Iqamas (residence permits) of many of these workers. The labor office told these workers that their case will be forwarded to the higher court. But it will take at least three weeks because of procedural issues, the workers were reportedly told. No salaries, no valid Iqamas, workers stuck in YanbuMushtaq, working as a janitor in the company for 18 years, said, “I have taken my children out of school back in Pakistan. I fear that they will not be able to join new academic year if I did not get my dues.” Mushtaq’s Iqama expired seven months ago and so has his medical insurance card. He said that the owner of the accommodation rented by the company for the workers has asked them several times to vacate it because of the non-payment of rent. Sagheer Khan, a supervisor in the company, said, “I do not have even a single riyal to go anywhere and find another job and sponsor. Many of us cannot move around because we do not have valid Iqamas.” The workers have also contacted their respective embassies and consulates. “We contacted our consulate and they promised all help,” said Farooq, a Pakistani worker. Shamsuddin, an Indian worker, said that his consulate also promised all help. Saudi Gazette has received the file indicating the names of the workers and the amounts of the delayed salaries along with official documents issued by the labor office. Documents indicate that the representative of the company did not show up at the labor office.
news
25-07-2016
60% of employees will turn down a job for this reason Research shows that workers crave flexibility and the well-being it brings them
Flexibility is a key value for workers who actually report that they would actually go as far as to turn down a job where flexibility was not offered at all, says research by Regus, the workplace provider. Almost half report they would have stayed longer in a previous job had flexible working been an option, highlighting what an important retention tool flexible working has become. Almost 40,000 business people globally were interviewed and they revealed that flexible working can bring about a startlingly wide array of benefits. Specifically, working closer to home helps workers feel more rested and lead healthier lifestyles perhaps as it reduces stressful commutes or allows them to cycle or walk to work. Perhaps more importantly, access to locations closer to work also mean that workers can spend more time with the families and friends. Flexible workers are seen as having more spare time by 78% of respondents as they can choose work location and workload; - Four fifths say flexible workers are better able to juggle personal and professional demands; - 69% say that flexible workers are more mindful and are better able to assess their levels of well-being; - 61% go as far as to say they would turn down a job where not flexibility was ruled out entirely. Kory Thompson, Country Manager UAE, Oman & Kuwait at Regus, said: "Flexibility, and specifically the ability to choose to work from a location closer to home are becoming ever more important to helping modern workers find a balance between their hectic work lives and their physical and emotional demands. Businesses wanting to attract and retain highly skilled and valuable workers cannot afford to ignore how important providing a good work:life balance has become. "What is surprising is the range and breadth of benefits that business people see derive from working closer to home: from being able to cycle in to work, to getting a lie-in, the benefits also translate in greater 'mindfulness' and better health as well as more time to spend with loved ones and on hobbies."
news
25-07-2016
Team to study ways to shelter domestic helps
JEDDAH — The Ministry of Labor and Social Development has formed a special team to develop a mechanism for shelter houses that serve domestic workers in particular. The formation of the team came to light amid a workshop that was conducted recently to set up the center for runaway domestic workers. Led by Adnan Al-Naeem, deputy minister for international labor affairs, the workshop gave emphasis to releasing its outcome that go hand in hand with the ministry’s direction in terms of enhancing services for aiding domestic workers. An array of officials explored the most pressing challenges faced by sheltering domestic helpers as well as laid out short-term and strategic solutions aimed at addressing the best utilization of financial resources and human capitals. Meanwhile, the workshop is the stepping stone for a series of other upcoming ones that would be orchestrated in cooperation with related entities including the Ministries of Interior and Foreign Affairs.
news
23-07-2016
Kuwait e-visa service launched – Interior Minister launches visa system at Kuwait Airport
KUWAIT: Deputy Prime Minister and Interior Minister Sheikh Mohammad Al-Khaled Al-Hamad Al-Sabah yesterday inaugurated the electronic-visa system at Kuwait International Airport; whereby applicants can obtain the entry visa online ahead of arrival in the country. Speaking upon the inauguration of the e-visa service at the air facility, Minister Sheikh Mohmmad advised staff and personnel to subject the new system to regular check-up and maintenance, cautioning that any glitch would impair the service, thus tarnishing Kuwait image abroad. Qualified national manpower should be assigned to run the system, he instructed. Minister Sheikh Mohammad, who oversaw successful test of the system, urged the concerned personnel to maintain such excellent performance round the clock. “Real operation of the system should be equally effective and I will not accept anything less than that,” he stressed. The system is part of a wide-scale strategy to upgrade to speed up the state services for all people, namely citizens and expatriates. Security personnel should perform effectively, security wise, and provide good treatment to departing and arriving people at the same time, he said. Ali Al-Muaili, in charge of the technological sector in the Ministry of Interior, addressed the minister and other attendees, saying that the e-visa system provides the visa to people abroad via the MoI website, www.moi.gov.kw, thus they will be spared the energy-time wasting at Kuwait airport. For his part, Major General Talal Maarefi, the Director General of Residency Affairs, said the applicant, via the new service will gets an immediate online reply, explaining that the instant visa is granted to citizens from 52 states, including expatriates in the GCC countries, who have a residency visa valid for no less than six months, also indicating that the special service is given to people of 13 professions. The minister, who was received by senior security officials at the airport, toured various sectors of the facilities and gave instructions to ensure that effective and speedy service is provided for the travelers.
news
22-07-2016
Ministry prods private sector to employ more disabled Saudis
RIYADH — Under the Nitaqat system for Saudization of jobs, hiring a disabled Saudi is considered equal to hiring four able-bodied Saudis. A source from the Ministry of Labor and Social Development said the ministry is encouraging private companies to hire more disabled employees by offering Nitaqat points. “The disabled employee must have a card issued by the ministry stating the type of disability. The jobs provided to the disabled employees must be suitable for them. The ministry has a strict anti-discrimination policy to ensure the rights of disabled employees,” he said. The source said the ministry runs inspection campaigns to ensure that companies have hired the minimum number of disabled people required. “The inspectors will also ensure that the disabled employees do not face any work-related discrimination such as lower salaries and denial of promotions due to their disability,” he said. The source said disabled employees have the right to be trained and participate in self-development programs offered to other employees in any organization or company. “To prove their disability, the disabled candidates must produce a medical report issued by the Ministry of Health or a public hospital or a card by the Ministry of Labor and Social Development documenting that he or she is indeed disabled,” said the source. He said the disabilities include both physical and mental impediments, such as visual, hearing, mobility, learning and speech difficulties. “Employees with disability have the right to demand necessary arrangements for them at the workplace. The employer is not allowed to relieve an employee who acquired new disability,” said the source. The source also said the Saudi Code for Architecture requires all public buildings in the country to be disabled-friendly. “The latest statistics by the General Organization for Social Insurance reveal that there are 65,580 disabled employees working in 31,790 private sector firms registered with the organization,” said the source.
news
21-07-2016
INSURANCE COVER FOR DOMESTIC WORKERS
DAMMAM: Authorities are looking into ways to provide insurance cover for thousands of domestic workers in the Kingdom. Adel Al-Issa, spokesman for the General Committee of Insurance Companies said preparations are under way for meetings between the Ministry of Labor and the Saudi Arabian Monetary Agency (SAMA) to discuss the relevant directives and prepare a study related to the insurance of domestic workers against hazards, as well as provide medical insurance. Al-Issa said that the committee will benefit from the experience of other countries regarding the risks that can be faced by domestic workers, pointing out that hazards that can be covered by insurance will be listed after considering the statistics on the total number of domestic workers in Saudi Arabia. He said that the price list of insurances for domestic laborers will be determined after studying every aspect of the problem, adding that the difficulty lies in the process of gathering information and data. Abdulaziz Abu Saud, an insurance specialist, stressed that insurance could also cover problems like domestic workers running away and deportations, in case there was no agreement between the parties during the three-month trial period, inadequate job performance by the domestic worker, physical violence on the part of the employer, and getting permanent disabilities because of work. Abu Saud said that this step will help domestic workers know where they stand and that they are covered by insurance in certain cases, stressing that this will also reduce the big financial burden assumed by the citizens when they need to deport domestic workers because of the lack of agreement during the trial period. He pointed out that insuring domestic workers will contribute to the protection of offices and recruitment companies that bring in domestic workers and will limit the number of middlemen involved in recruiting domestic workers
news
19-07-2016
No visa without health insurance
RIYADH — Employers who do not provide health insurance to employees and their dependents may be banned from recruitment permanently, Al-Madinah Arabic daily reported on Monday. The Council of Cooperative Health Insurance (CCHI) has formed an inspection committee with the Ministry of Labor and Social Development to ensure that all employers in the Kingdom provide health insurance to their employees and their families, said CCHI spokesman Yasser Al-Maarik. “The law applies to all employees whether Saudis or expats. There are penalties for breaching the law. Employers may face fines up to the cost of insurance and may be banned from recruitment rights permanently or temporarily,” said Al-Maarik. He said that inspection teams will regularly inspect employers to ensure that they adhere to labor laws and the CCHI rules and regulations. “We constantly try to improve our services to provide the best for our clients. Clients can benefit from our service by using their national IDs or residence permits without the need for any other card once they register,” said Al-Maarik. He also said the council is working on improving its system to track violations. “We are working on digitizing the whole process of recording violations so we have a permanent record of violators and their penalties. Employers with violations will not be allowed to recruit any new employees or provide health insurance to new employees until they pay off their dues for the violations they committed,” said Al-Maarik. “We are working on raising awareness about the importance of health insurance and the rights and responsibilities of both the employers and the employees when it comes to health insurance. We are trying to reach out to the general public through various media,” said Al-Maarik. The first phase of the one-contract health insurance policy for private sector employees and their dependents began earlier this month. The objective of the one-contract policy is to protect the rights of the insured and improve the services of health insurance in the Kingdom. Private sector employers will have to sign one health insurance contract, which should include employees and their dependents. The decision will be implemented in four phases depending on the number of employees. Each phase is three months long.
news
18-07-2016
Work ban under hot sun: 258 violations recorded
RIYADH – The Ministry of Labor and Social Development has recorded 258 violations of its ban on making workers toil under the hot sun. These violations were detected during the period from June 15 and July 12, Khaled Aba Al-Khail, spokesman of the Ministry of Labor and Social Development, was quoted by Saudi Press Agency (SPA) as saying on Saturday. Al-Khail further said that 241 companies were involved in these violations in all regions of the Kingdom. He added that the ministry was committed to implementing the decision banning forcing workers to work under the hot sun throughout the period announced earlier. The objective is to protect the private sector workers’ health and safety. The ministry also aims to direct companies to provide a healthy and safe work environment in line with the occupational health and safety requirements. This is also in the interest of work in order to prevent the workers from any health risks. The spokesman said the ministry’s decision in this connection was issued on May 14, 2014. It states that it is not allowed to make an employee work in open areas under the hot sun from 12 noon to 3 p.m. during the period from June 15 until Sept, 15 every Gregorian year. Oil and the gas workers and those in the maintenance sector have been exempted from this restriction, but ample measures have been taken to protect them as well. The decision also exempts some governorates in some regions of the Kingdom where temperatures are low.
news
18-07-2016
‘Portal glitches causing delay in recruitment of housemaids’
DAMMAM — Recruitment offices blame technical glitches in the Ministry of Labor and Social Development’s Musaned portal for inordinate delay in the recruitment of housemaids from Bangladesh. “Musaned has been facing several technical glitches. However, all of the glitches are fixed within hours of the problem being reported. The ministry is currently upgrading its e-services by contracting with companies that will improve the quality of its services nationally and internationally,” said the ministry’s spokesman Khalid Aba Al-Khail. A source from a recruitment office said the technical glitches of Musaned portal is a true obstacle that has delayed many applications. “We were able to process far less applications than anticipated due to these glitches. These glitches happen frequently and on a regular basis. The system faces errors every week or two weeks. These glitches are not occasional and rare. They are quite frequent and have caused a great delay,” said the source. The source also said the system is now unable to bear the pressure of recruitment requests being processed. “The ministry does not have a competent technical team. Moreover, each nationality is facing different challenges with the recruitment offices. In many instances, recruitment offices accept changes in the regulations such as an increased recruitment charge in order to meet market demands,” said the source. The source added the system does not reflect these changes causing many transactions to happen undocumented.
news
16-07-2016
Employers told not to keep expats passports
RIYADH: An employer does not have the right to retain the passport of his expat employee without the employee’s consent, Khalid Aba Al-Khail, spokesman for the Ministry of Labor and Social Development, said. However, if the expat worker wishes the employer to keep his passport, he has to sign a written statement in both Arabic and his native language stating that the employer has received his passport and the date of receipt, he said. He called on employers not to keep the passports of their employees unless they agree on that to avoid any penalty stipulated by the executive by-laws of the labor law. The penalty includes imposition of a fine of SR2,000 for each case, but can carry multiple fines in case he retains the passports of additional workers. He said the ministry seeks to regulate the contractual relations between the two parties and fix the rights and duties of both sides, which aims to streamline the Saudi labor market and create a suitable work environment for all parties to ensure increased productivity and promotion of the national economy, he said. He stressed there will be no tolerance for whoever violates the labor system. In this context, he called on the parties concerned to read the executive by-laws of the labor law on the Ministry’s website at www.mosa.gov.sa.
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15-07-2016
MoF will withhold July salaries of employees with incomplete Emirates ID details Urges federal entities to ensure completion of uploading Emirates ID number
Pursuant to Circular No. 03 for 2016, issued on 3rd April, 2016, regarding the uploading of employee Emirates ID numbers in the Federal Financial System, an essential reference for all financial transactions and procedures at the national level, the Ministry of Finance, MoF, has announced that it will begin implementation of the circular, and will withhold July salaries of employees with incomplete or inaccurate national ID details. The Ministry of Finance urged ministries and federal entities to ensure the completion of uploading the Emirates ID number, from the issuance date of the circular. The Emirate ID number is an essential reference to speed up all government transactions for all federal government employees. Mariam Mohammed Al Amiri, Assistant Under-Secretary for the Management of Financial Resources, stressed the need for all ministries and federal entities to ensure the completion of uploading the required data in the system. Having the correct data for all government employees in ministries and federal entities will facilitate transactions, and follow up on their requests in a fast and accurate manner. Al Amiri also highlighted the link between the Emirate ID number and a number of significant federal government projects. The Ministry had previously announced that all ministries and federal entities linked to the federal financial system must enter or correct the Emirates ID numbers for all of their employees, and those that adopt their own financial systems must complete the national ID details.
news
14-07-2016
Abuse of maids in Oman verges on slavery: HRW
DUBAI: A leading international rights group yesterday said that foreigners employed as maids in Oman can face physical and verbal abuse while working entrapped in conditions that near slavery. A new Human Rights Watch report blames in part Oman’s system of tying workers’ visas to their employers, as well as police failing to enforce laws and returning runaway maids to abusive homes. The report alleges Oman’s neighbor, the United Arab Emirates, acts as a gateway for maids to be trafficked into the sultanate, as Emirati employment agencies along the border put women on display “like window shopping”. “Many find themselves trapped with abusive employers and forced to work in exploitative conditions, their plight hidden behind closed doors,” the HRW report said. “It is clear that abuses are widespread and that they are generally carried out with impunity.” Oman’s government-sponsored Human Rights Commission and the Omani Embassy in Washington did not respond to requests for comment from AP. Many from Asia and Africa come to Gulf Arab countries to work as maids, often as the sole provider for their families back home. While some find success, others can face abuse or find themselves working in conditions far different than those promised by recruiters, trapped without their passports. Oman, a country of 4.4 million people on the eastern edge of the Arabian Peninsula, is home to nearly 2 million foreigners, according to the government’s National Center for Statistics and Information. In the report, Human Rights Watch said its investigators interviewed 59 female migrant workers with some recounting being beaten, verbally abused, denied fair pay and working as much as 20-hour days. The report said employers routinely seized maids’ passports in violation of Omani laws and those that fled abusive situations often had police return them to their abusers under laws that consider the workers “absconders”. “Situations like those described below are at the very least dangerously close to situations of slavery,” the report said. The report called on Oman to overhaul its “kafala” employee sponsorship system. The system, versions of which are used throughout the oil-rich Gulf states, gives bosses considerable power over workers by effectively binding them to a given employer. It also urged Omani police not to return those who flee violence to abusive homes. The New York-based group also implicated the UAE for allowing maids to sneak into Oman despite restrictions from some of their home countries and other visa restrictions. It described a series of employment offices in the Emirati border city of Al Ain serving as a point for Omanis to find domestic workers. Several of the women who spoke to Human Rights Watch described the situation as them being “bought” by Omanis. Emirati officials did not respond to a request for comment from the AP. A Bangladeshi maid said she left home to work for an employer in the UAE before a new employer paid cash for her to be transferred to Oman. “I was sold,” HRW quoted Asma K as saying. Oman’s female domestic servants come mainly from Indonesia, Ethiopia, South Asia and the Philippines. – Agencies
news
13-07-2016
Know The Law: You exempt from UAE Labour Law provisions? Provisions don’t apply to categories including free zone workers, government staff and housemaids
The UAE Labour Law is designed to protect the interest of the employees and the employers and to ensure that fair work practices are applicable and enforced in all the companies operating out of the country. According to Article 3 of the Law, it applies to all employees working in the UAE, whether UAE nationals or expatriates. However, there are certain categories of employees who are exempt from the law and many have to follow another set of regulations. As amended by Federal Law no 24 dated 7/11/1981, and Federal Law no 12 dated 29/10/1986, the provisions listed in the law do not apply to certain categories. These include: 1) Employees and workers of the federal government and the governmental departments in the Emirates, members of the State, the employees and workers in public entities and institutions, whether federal or local, and employees and workers appointed for governmental, federal and local projects. 2) Members of the armed forces, police and security. 3) Domestic servants in private households and similar occupations. 4) Workers in farms or pastures with the exception of persons working in agricultural institutions processing the products or employees permanently operating or repairing mechanical machines required for agriculture. Besides these categories of employees, those working in free zones are generally not governed by the UAE Labour Law. Each free zone has its own employment law. Employees working in places such as Jebel Ali Free Zone and the Dubai Airport Free Zone are subject to the rules and regulations of the free zone concerned and maintain their own employment contracts. Having said that, the provisions set out in the employment contract of the free zone must be in accordance with what is stated the Labour Law. Moreover, it should be noted that free zone employees are sponsored by the relevant free zones and not by their employers.
news
12-07-2016
Ministry to appoint Saudi labor attachés abroad
RIYADH — The Ministry of Labor and Social Development is planning to appoint labor attachés in countries from where the Kingdom hires expat workers. “The ministry thinks that labor attachés can restrict recruitment brokers and regulate the recruitment business. The ministry hopes to clean the recruitment market off brokers and offer a fully organized recruitment market,” said a source. He said the Musaned program for domestic workers will provide recruitment request for individuals, salary model, exit and entry form and residence permit issuance form. Doing things through a clear process online will also eliminate brokers. Economic Affairs expert Fadhl Al-Buainain praised the move by the ministry to appoint attachés in countries from where expatriates are recruited. “Having attachés in labor exporting countries will help overcome many obstacles such as diplomatic negotiations,” said Al-Buainain. He said the Ministry of Labor and Social Development must work closely with the Ministry of Foreign Affairs to operate the attachés. An attaché is a person who is “attached” to the diplomatic or administrative staff. An attaché is normally an official, under the authority of an ambassador or other head of a diplomatic mission, who serves either as a diplomat or as a member of the support staff. The ministry has introduced a number of labor reforms to regulate the market. An employer who keeps the passports of his employees will be fined SR2,000 and the one who does not provide a copy of the contract to workers will be fined SR5,000, according to the regulations announced last year by the ministry. A fine of up to SR15,000 will be imposed on an employer who forces his workers to do jobs not specified in the contract or if he asks workers to bear those expenses which the emplpyer is liable to pay. Fines will also be imposed on companies if they delay the payment of salaries, force employees to work extra hours without overtime payment, or force them to work during official weekends and holidays. Selling visas to expatriates results in a fine of SR50,000. Employing an expatriate without a license results in a fine of SR45,000.
news
09-07-2016
1 million new retail sector jobs by 2020
JEDDAH: The Saudi retail sector has taken concrete steps to achieve one of the goals of Vision 2030, which is creating 1 million new jobs by 2020 and offering the youth more opportunities to work in commercial shops, vegetable markets, telecommunication shops, and several other areas in the coming months. Member of the Board of the Jeddah Chamber of Commerce and Industry and member of the advisory committee for the development of society and education Fahad bin Saiban Al-Sulami said the sector will be crucial to achieving Vision 2030 and retailers will play a central role in its implementation. He said the sector, which enjoys more than SR370 billion in investments annually and a 70 percent expatriate employment rate, will be one of the strategic targets of the nationalization program and will greatly help limit unemployment throughout the Kingdom. The Ministry of Labor and Social Development’s upcoming 5-year plan will see more than 1.3 million Saudi nationals enter the labor market as a result of the plan to nationalize the retail, telecommunication, taxi, travel and tourism, real estate, gold and jewelry, and vegetable market sectors, he added. The retail sector, said Al-Sulami, will help bring unemployment down from 11.6 percent to 7 percent, as stipulated in the vision, while the labor market will see more female participation and an over 10 percent growth. Al-Sulami stressed the need to face the major challenges facing the sector, including tassatur (cover up) practices, the high cost of available commercial spaces, labor shortages in the services sector, limited investment in training national cadres, as well as inadequate infrastructure to serve the sector. “Many SMEs turn to expatriate labor because they are seemingly more affordable, a situation that has increased the percentage of expatriates in the sector to more than two-thirds and created significant economic pressure,” said Al-Sulami.
news
08-07-2016
Workers complain about long working hours in private sector
MAKKAH — A group of persons working for different businesses in the private sector have complained about the long working hours in Ramadan. They said they work longer than the official eight hours set by the Labor Law and rarely are they allowed to take any rest. They are paid low salaries as employers take advantage of them, Makkah daily reported. Hamdi Younis, director of Ministry of Labor and Social Development Makkah branch, said the Ministry of Labor inspectors constantly warn employers against forcing workers to do more than the daily hours set by the law, urging workers to report violations at 19911. “Once we have received a violation report, we will dispatch a team of inspectors to the location to check and verify. Unfortunately, some employers, especially those who own businesses at malls, tend to make shopkeepers work longer hours around the time when Eid Al Fitr Holidays approaches,” he noted. Sultan Al-Harthy, a legal consultant, explains that the Shariah protects the rights of workers and so does the Labor Law in the Kingdom. The employment contracts stipulates that a worker should perform his duties for certain hours and be paid a certain salary. It is inhumane to abuse the contract and make the employee work longer hours for your own benefit. He cited Article 61 of the Labor Law which states that no employer shall make an employee work longer hours than the ones mentioned in the contract and no employer shall have the right to withhold and not pay the salary of the employee. His advice to employees who are going through this situation is to go to the labor office and file a complaint immediately. The Labor Law states that the daily working hours is eight except in Ramadan they are reduced to six. If a worker stays longer hours, he should be compensated and paid overtime fees in proportion to his salary. Moreover, workers should be given short rests and one day off every week, according to the law.
news
08-07-2016
GAFS: 5.8m Saudi women do not participate in labor force
DAMMAM — Over 5.8 million Saudi women are not participating in the labor force, despite the fact that most of them are over 15 years old, according to the General Authority for Statistics’ report for the second half of 2015, Al-Watan daily reported. The report indicated that the number of Saudi women participating in the workforce in 2015 was 1.2 million compared to 4.4 million Saudi men. The gap is huge and should be reduced in order to achieve economic equilibrium and solve the unemployment problem, said the report. The focus was on young men and women over 15 years old and over who were playing a participatory role in the labor force. The authority conducted a survey to measure the rate of participation in economy growth and unemployment in the second half of 2015. Usually, it carries out the survey twice a year and it is planning to make this survey four times a year to get accurate figures about men and women participation in the workforce. One of the Ministry of Labor and Social Development’s initiatives within 2030 Vision is to reduce this gap in the labor force. The ministry will design policies targeting and developing the labor market and creating more job opportunities for both men and women equally. It will also enter into strategic partnerships with the private sector to increase women participation in the workforce and give them more chances to contribute to the development of the national economy. The ministry recently introduced training programs of cell phone maintenance for women to encourage women to venture into the telecommunications sector and work as cell phone technicians.
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07-07-2016
Diminishing Solidarity: Polish Attitudes toward the European Migration and Refugee Crisis
As Europe struggles to receive and integrate the massive influx of asylum seekers and migrants that began in mid-2015, the continent seems to once again be divided between East and West. The countries of East Central Europe argued vehemently against plans to relocate asylum seekers across the European Union (EU)—a proposal that was backed by Germany and other Western European countries. In September 2015, the Visegrád Group (composed of Poland, the Czech Republic, Hungary, and Slovakia) released a joint statement saying “any [EU] proposal leading to [the] introduction of mandatory and permanent quota for solidarity measures would be unacceptable.” After weeks of railing against a proposed EU quota plan that would have seen 7,000 asylum seekers resettled in Poland of the 160,000 allocated across the European Union, the country’s government, led by Civic Platform Prime Minister Ewa Kopacz, voted in September 2015 to accept it. In caving to European pressure, Poland was criticized by its fellow Visegrád Group members, who together with Romania all voted against the plan. Poland’s alignment with the European consensus did not last long, however. In the October 2015 parliamentary election, the right-wing Law and Justice Party won the majority of seats, and official rhetoric took on a harsher tone under the new government. After the March 2016 terrorist attacks in Brussels, Prime Minister Beata Szydło announced that Poland would not accept any refugees under the plan. “I say very clearly that I see no possibility at this time of immigrants coming to Poland,” Szydło said. This rightward shift is particularly momentous because Poland sees itself as the leader of East Central Europe, and now seems to be turning away from the “Weimar Triangle” (Poland, France, and Germany) and back towards the Visegrád Group. The change in the country’s political alignments furthers the region’s tendency to close borders and refuse to accept refugees, a trend that threatens European solidarity in this area. It is critical, therefore, to understand the factors behind the policy changes and harsh reaction to refugees seen in Poland and other East Central European countries. The week before the EU quota plan vote, thousands of Poles marched in cities across the country chanting “Today refugees, tomorrow terrorists!” and “Poland, free of Islam!” Many observers have portrayed this Islamophobia, demonstrated at far-right protests and in online forums, as an “Eastern European” problem. Yet while the media have tended to ascribe these antimigrant attitudes to either racism or economic concerns, the picture is much more nuanced. The calculations behind the Polish political rhetoric that has stoked increasingly harsh, and at times xenophobic, public opinion are part of a much larger European trend of anti-EU and anti-immigration sentiment. Poland’s Evolving Migration Role For most of the 20th century, Poland was a sending country of both refugees and immigrants. Faced with a lagging economy and the destruction of war, more than 1 million Polish migrants left for greater prosperity in Western Europe and the United States. Like many Eastern Bloc countries in the postwar period, the Polish government maintained an isolationist approach to migration policy, strictly controlling both emigration and immigration, and largely limiting asylum to nationals of other countries experiencing “class struggle” (such as Vietnam). In the 1990s, these policies began to change. As Poland liberalized its economy and sought to align itself with Western Europe, the government created an asylum regime in line with international standards and the 1951 Refugee Convention. Individuals from the former Soviet Union, Somalia, Afghanistan, and other countries began to seek asylum in Poland, and the government adopted an especially generous stance towards Bosnians and Chechens. The biggest change in Poland’s migration profile came with Polish accession to the European Union in 2004, and the freedom of mobility that such membership entailed. Within two years of accession, more than 264,000 Poles had been approved for work applications in the United Kingdom alone. As of 2015, an estimated 1.3 million to 2 million Poles resided in other Member States. The contrast between Poles’ willingness to utilize EU free movement provisions to their advantage, primarily through labor migration, and their recent unwillingness to
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04-07-2016
UAE Labour Law: When, why, by how much can employers deduct pay It is mandatory the worker shall be notified in writing of sanctions imposed, type, amount levied as fine and causes
Employers in the UAE can legally fine or deduct an employee’s pay for misconduct and breach of duties. This is specified in Article 102 of the country’s Labour Law. However, the pay cut that employees get is governed by another article, which sets the legal limit by which the boss can reduce the pay. The proceeding Article 104 of the Law states that the fine may be a specific amount or an amount equal to the wage of the worker for a specific period. The Law clearly states that the fine prescribed with regards to one breach may not exceed the wage of five days. Additionally, for the settlement of the fines imposed on the worker, a maximum amount equal to the wage of five days may be deducted from the wage of the worker per month. To safeguard the interest of the workers, Article 105 of the Law requires that employers record such details in a special register along with the cause and circumstances when the fine was imposed clearly stating the name and wage of the defaulting worker. To ensure that such fines are not misused, it is required that a special account be allocated for this purpose and the monthly proceeds are to be used for the social welfare of the workers in accordance with the decisions issued by the Minister of Labour and Social Affairs in this regard . Furthermore, Article 106 states that the penalty of deprivation of the periodic allowance may only be imposed once per year and such allowance may not be deferred for more than six months. Besides, the financial penalty stated above, an employer can also deprive an employee a promotion as a disciplinary act. However, this penalty of depriving promotion may not be imposed for more than one promotional cycle, as elaborated in Article 107. The penalised worker shall be then promoted during the following promotional cycle should he meet the necessary conditions for such a promotion. These disciplinary sanction are more or less imposed for breach of acts at the workplace. No fine may be imposed on the worker for an act perpetrated outside the workplace, unless it is connected to the work, the employer or the manager in-charge. It is not permitted to impose more than one sanction or combine any disciplinary sanction with the deduction of any part of the wage of the worker. The actions stated in Article 102 can only be imposed after the worker is notified of the penalty in writing and after having heard the worker and his defense, which should be thoroughly investigated and then recorded. It is also mandatory that the worker shall be notified in writing of the sanctions imposed, the type, the amount levied as fine and the causes of the imposition. Additionally, the worker may not be accused of a disciplinary offense after 30 days of the discovery and no disciplinary sanction may be imposed after 60 days from the date of the end of the investigation in the offence of which the worker is found guilty.
news
02-07-2016
Interior Ministry cautions travelers to Germany of visa regulations
RIYADH — The Ministry of Interior has told Saudi citizens traveling to Germany to find out beforehand entry visa regulations in the country and other relevant information. Maj. Gen. Mohammed Bin Abdullah Al-Maraol, director general for public relations and information in the Ministry of Interior, said the Ministry of Foreign Affairs had been following up and working to resolve a number of cases where Saudi nationals faced difficulties at Frankfurt airport for various reasons, including a lack of knowledge about visa regulations in Germany. He said the confusion arose as a result of receiving Schengen visas from other European embassies, and not from German missions, to travel to Germany. He said those who travel to Europe should obtain Schengen visa from the embassy of the country that they intend to visit first, otherwise they may be considered violators of visa regulations. Al-Maraol said travel and tourism agencies should apply for a visa for the country the traveler plans to visit and must get all forms and documents translated into Arabic so that the traveler will be fully aware of the details of visa rules and compliance with local regulations.
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29-06-2016
UAE Labour Law: Warning, pay-cut, dismissal… 7 penalties you must know Article 120 of UAE Labour Law lists clauses when employer may enforce these penalties
UAE’s new labour regulations effective January 1 this year ensure that employees are treated fairly, with strict enforcement encouraging businesses in the country to protect the rights of their workers. However, there are certain cases where an employer may fine or even dismiss an employee for misconduct and breach of duties, and it is important for all employees to understand the circumstances when these penalties can be imposed. According to Article 102 of the UAE Labour Law, there are seven disciplinary rules that an employee should be aware of. These include: 1) A warning 2) A fine 3) Suspension with reduced pay for a period not exceeding ten days 4) Deprivation from or deferment of periodic bonus in establishments containing a system for such bonuses 5) Deprivation from promotion in establishments applying a system for such promotion 6) Dismissal from work without prejudice to the end of service gratuity 7) Dismissal from work and deprivation from the total end of service gratuity or a part thereof. These disciplinary rules may be inflicted by the employer or his/her representative. However, the law elaborates that such penalties will not be inflicted for reasons other than the ones mentioned exclusively in Article 120. What is included in Article 120? There are several clauses in Article 120 under which these disciplinary actions can be taken. • Termination during probation or on its expiry. • If the worker has adopted a false identity or nationality or submitted forged certificates or documents. • If a worker makes a mistake causing substantial material loss to the employer provided the employer notifies the relevant labour department within 48 hours of the accident. • If the worker disobeys instructions regarding industrial safety or the safety of the workplace provided the instructions have been issued in writing and are posted conspicuously in the workplace in a language accessible to the employee or explained to him orally. • If the worker does not perform his basic duties under the contract and persists in violating these despite being investigated and receiving a written warning notifying him of termination in the event of repeat offences. • If the worker reveals his employer's trade or business secrets or confidential information. • If the worker is finally sentenced by a competent court for an offence involving honour, honesty or public morals. • If the worker is drunk or under the influence of an illegal drug during work. • If while working the worker assaults the employer or his manager or a colleague. • If the worker is absent from work without a valid reason for more than 20 non-consecutive days or more than 7 consecutive days. Article 103 of the Law further states that a model list of disciplinary rules and rewards list can be made available to guide employers in setting their own rules in this regard.
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29-06-2016
New Nitaqat to end expats’ dominance
RIYADH — The balanced (Mawzoon) Nitaqat system, which comes into effect on Dec. 11, 2016, will put an end to the dominance of expatriate workers in critical jobs and bring down the unemployment rate, said Deputy Labor and Social Development Minister Ahmed Al-Humaidan. Addressing a press conference, he said: “The revised system will also improve the job market situation, raise the quality of employment, generate suitable jobs for Saudi men and women, create a secured and attractive working environment and end unproductive Saudization.” “The new Saudization system comes in line with Vision 2030. It will realize the objectives of the National Transformation Program,” Al-Humaidan said while expressing his deep concern over the growing unemployment rate in the country. He emphasized the need to address the issue of expats occupying important jobs, falling productivity of the job market, low participation of women and the gap between academic courses and job market requirements. “We’ll take quick measures to address job market challenges,” he added. Al-Humaidan said the Mawzoon system aims at qualitative improvement of Saudization by increasing the employment rate, helping Saudis to get high-salaried jobs, increase the number of female workers in companies and ensure job stability for Saudis. Speaking about the Saudization of the telecom sector, he said: “It’s being carried out as part of targeting potential sectors that offer good job opportunities for young Saudi men and women. We implemented this system after holding talks with telecom companies for the last six months.” He compared the ministry’s inspection campaign on targeted sectors to the cheetah that hunts down its prey after closely observing its movement. “The ministry carries out its inspection campaigns making use of its research and monitoring capabilities,” Al-Humaidan said. “We’ll inspect a firm when we learn there are discrepancies” such as salary difference and fake Saudization, he added. Al-Humaidan highlighted the success achieved by the Saudization program over the past year as it encouraged private companies to employ required number of Saudis to fulfill Nitaqat conditions. “Most companies have reached now secured levels,” he said. However, the deputy minister stressed that companies should offer more jobs to slash unemployment rate among the Saudis. Asked about the expected result of Mawzoon, he said: “It would result in the employment of more Saudis and increase the number of firms in the yellow category of the Nitaqat. At the same time, most companies will remain in the green zone.” The ministry introduced Mawzoon as part of its efforts to encourage private firms to employ more Saudis and bring about a spate of reforms in the job market in line with Vision 2030. Under the new Mawzoon system companies would be categorized into three groups: Firms having 50 to 99 workers, firms with 100 to 199 workers, and those with 200 to 499 workers. The ministry has decided to cancel all the previous regulations that stand in the way of the new Nitaqat system, which will be implemented from Dec. 11 this year.
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27-06-2016
Revealed: What makes employees happy... Salary or work environment? Dubai Statistics Center conducts 10-point study to ascertain what makes employees happier
Happiness is the top priority of the Dubai Government, hence, a survey has been conducted across different departments to ascertain what brings happiness to the employees – salary, allowances, job security or work environment etc. Conducted by Dubai Statistics Center, the survey results showed that more than nine out of ten employees – 95 per cent – believe that salaries and allowances are top of their needs to make them happier. Tariq Al Janahi, Deputy Executive Director of Dubai Statistics Centre, said the results showed that the factors that make employees happy vary from one staffer to another. Therefore, the organisations needed a guide to plan policies and programmes related to human resources with higher efficiency to make their workers happy. “Some prefer financial aspects like salaries and allowances as their top priorities to make them happy; while others prefer psychological factors like work environment and job security when it comes to job satisfaction.” The happiest employees are… The study revealed that employees aged over 56 years were the happiest followed by staffers aged between 18 to 25 years, then 46 to 55 years, then 36 to 45 years, and finally between 26 to 35 years. The survey was launched to determine top 10 priorities of the employees to achieve the highest level of happiness. More than, 5,000 people participated in the study within a week. Among the participants were 52.2 per cent Emiratis – 41.7 per cent females vs 58.3 per cent males, indicating high level of participation by the employees. “This is the first time that the center has conducted this kind of study of Dubai Government employees to provide important information to the institutions wishing to bring happiness to their employees,” Al Janahi told Arabic daily Emarat Al Youm. The results of the study, based on Dubai Statistics Center report, showed that the institutions should put together programmes that can meet the needs of the employees and also improve performances of the corporates.
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24-06-2016
Man forges visa, cons visitor for Dh25000 Accused is a repeat offender
A jobless Afghan national allegedly conned a Pakistani of Dh25000 and issued him a forged work visa, the Dubai Criminal Court heard. The 28-year-old victim, OA, knew FA through his brother back home. "I called him over the phone and asked him to issue me a visit visa. He did that and when I came to Dubai, I stayed with him in Hor Al Anz. He enquired if I was interested in a work permit. I agreed and transferred Dh25000 to his account to issue me a work visa. "He also arranged an interview for me with a company in Dubai. Later he handed me over a work visa but when I checked with Dubai Residency and Foreigners Affairs website I could found out that my visa does not exist in the system," he testified. The victim lodged a complaint with the police. The accused has also conned the company that issued the victim a visit visa. "In 2015, the accused approached my travel and tourism company and handed over a photocopy of the victim's passport. I issued the visa against Dh250, which the accused never paid," testified KA, 44, Afghani, investor. Dubai Residency and Foreigners Affairs Department reported that the visa dated April 28, 2016 was forged. Police arrested FA, 29, who admitted to receiving Dh25000 from the victim. The Dubai Prosecution submitted the forged visa to the court which will give sentence on July 14.
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23-06-2016
Three firms fined for fake work permits
The Ministry of Human Resources and Emiratisation referred three private sector firms to Al Ain’s Court of First Instance for allegedly issuing fake work permits and providing false data to the ministry to request quota for some facilities. Mubarak Al Dhahiri, Under-Secretary at the MoHRE, said, "Such serious offenses shall not be tolerated, and directly referred to the court for immediate actions. According to Cabinet Decision No.40 of 2014, a Dh20,000 fine shall be slapped on each fraud case followed by a complete halt to granting any work permits to such establishments." Al Dhahiri called upon local owners to follow up on businesses regularly in order to ensure avoiding such offenses. He stressed the ministry’s keenness on providing services to all customers with complete ease, speed and accuracy, particularly, when it comes to issuing work permits, the ministry audits the requests through competent committees that ensures granting all the labour market necessities on time. Al Ain Court of First Instance gave a sentence of one year's imprisonment to an Asian businessman (NK) followed by deportation from the country and confiscation of the documents which were presented and submitted to the Ministry of Human Resources and Emiratisation to request permits for two workers. The firm (SB) was also given a Dh50,000 fine. The second case punished Asian businessman (MA) with one year's imprisonment followed by deportation, and the confiscation of the fake documents submitted to the ministry requesting two work permits, in addition to fining the firm (AA) Dh50,000 for breaking the law. The final case punished Asian businessman (WB) with three years imprisonment followed by deportation, the confiscation of the submitted fake documents for three work permits, in addition to charging the firm (BA) a AED50,000 fine.
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23-06-2016
Employees in Dubai’s free zones to have unified labour contract Dubai Free Zone Council approves decision to facilitate transfer of companies within free zones in the emirate of Dubai
Employees in all the free zones of Dubai will have a unified employment contract under a new proposal discussed by a higher body. Chaired by Sheikh Ahmed bin Saeed Al Maktoum, Chairman of Dubai Free Zone (DFZ) Council, the meeting debated unifying of labour contracts for workers in these hubs in accordance with the labour laws of the UAE. Sheikh Ahmed directed the Council members to put together a sample contract for working within the free zone areas. Starting January 1, 2016, the UAE implemented new labour contract that standardises employment terms. The Dubai Free Zone Council was established in April 2015 to develop and qualify Dubai’s free zones to attract investments and establish an advanced investment environment that contributes to promoting industry, commerce, tourism and the services sectors in Dubai. The Council comprises senior officials of the various free zones in Dubai as well as the Director General of Dubai Municipality and the Director-General of State Security in Dubai. Ease of Company Transfer The Dubai Free Zone Council approved a decision to facilitate the transfer of companies among the free zones in the emirate of Dubai. A company that is looking to relocate to a new free zone can now transfer its complete registration and record to the new hub without having to cancel its outstanding registration and/or liquidating the business. This will give companies wishing to relocate to a more appropriate environment in Dubai the necessary financial and administrative stability to do so. Following in-depth research and analysis of various measures within the UAE and abroad, the legal committee has developed a framework that will allow seamless transfer of companies between free zones, as directed by Sheikh Ahmed bin Saeed Al Maktoum. Preventing Double Taxation The members of the Dubai Free Zone Council also underlined the need to cooperate with the Ministry of Finance (MoF) in abiding with the international agreements signed by the UAE with regard to preventing double taxation. The Council committed to providing the Ministry with necessary information and data to improve the classification of the UAE - as per the standards of the Global Forum on Transparency and Exchange of Information. For its part, the Ministry of Finance presented the UAE’s obligations in the prevention of double taxation. Till date, the UAE has ratified 97 agreements for the prevention of double taxation and four agreements for the exchange of information for tax purposes. The Council discussed ways to attract more investments through identifying appropriate solutions to some of the challenges highlighted in the feedback received on the UAE’s free zones.
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22-06-2016
Indians dominate pvt. sector workforce
JEDDAH — As many as 2.2 million Indian nationals, representing about 20 percent, are employed by the private sector in Saudi Arabia topping all other nationalities working in this sector especially those from the sub-continent, local daily Al-Madina reported on Tuesday quoting official figures released by the Ministry of Labor and Social Development. According to the ministry, the Pakistanis at 1.8 million occupy second place at the ratio of 17 percent followed by the Egyptians who are third with about a million people representing about 10 percent. The ministry’s figures said there were 720,000 Yemenis working in the Saudi private sector representing about seven percent of the foreign work force in this sector. There are 450,000 Filipinos working in the sector representing about five percent of the work force followed by 400,000 Sudanese who make about four percent of the total foreign manpower in the Saudi private sector. According to the figures, there are 38,000 Nepalese working for the private sector with a ratio of 3.5 percent. The figures also said there are about 180,000 Syrians in the private labor market. An economist has, however, doubted the ministry’s figures and said they do not represent the exact number of the expatriates staying and working in the Kingdom. “The ministry is speaking about 8.8 million expatriates while their exact number is more than 12 million,” said Khaled Al-Maimani of King Abdulaziz University’s economy college. He said the number of expatriates in the Kingdom was steadily growing. “They have gone up from 4.7 million in 2005 to about 8.8 million in 2015 and 12 million now,” he added.
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22-06-2016
Workshops seek to bridge gap between expats, locals
JEDDAH — Many foreigners living in Saudi Arabia don’t mix with Saudis despite living in the Kingdom for years, according to Angie Kapely who recently led a workshop for the expat community to talk about “Living in Saudi Arabia”. Kapely seeks to bridge the gap between foreigners living in Saudi Arabia and locals. An American currently living in Jeddah with previous experience as an advisor for Saudi students in the United States, Kapely believes there needs to be better understanding of both cultures. “The goal of our workshops is to help foreigners adjust to Saudi lifestyle and to help them start mixing with each other,” she told Saudi Gazette. “The problem is foreigners are afraid to leave their compounds and to have Saudi friends. Secondly, they need to really understand the Saudi culture because nowadays there are so many negative stereotypes.” Kapely along with Dr. Sameer Tabbakh, a Saudi national who lived in the United States for six years pursuing his graduate studies, have presented over 20 workshops abroad. Expatriates of over 15 nationalities and different occupations were invited to share their experiences and compare lifestyles in their own countries and that of Saudi Arabia. “There is no right or wrong in culture,” says Tabbakh. “One must be open-minded and accept cultural habits as a new thing.” He adds: “On the outside, one sees the outer appearance of clothes, hobbies, food, and other practices. However, the values underneath explain the reasons behind certain behavior. That’s where misunderstanding or conflict occurs.” Kapeley has worked in the Middle East but says most of her understanding of Saudi culture started in the United States when a large number of scholarship students arrived. Under their founded startup GATE International Consulting, both speakers will begin hosting more for the expat community living in Jeddah as well as launch initiatives where Saudis invite foreigners to experience more social activities and occasions such as weddings. “We want to get them to go to Saudis’ homes, eat local food, and get to know prominent figures,” says Tabbakh. “One reason many foreigners who have resided in the country for up to 30 or 40 years was because they got to know the culture and have come to like it.” Established in 2013, GATE provides consultancy for institutions in higher education that wish to provide intercultural training to their students or the staff members. Additionally, the consulting team provides services to the governmental and private sectors on intercultural communication and reaching intercultural understanding inside the workplace.
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21-06-2016
Saudi Arabia top GCC destination for Dubai non-oil trade Kingdom accounted for 45% of Dubai’s total trade in the region in 2015
Reflecting Dubai’s strong economic ties with the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) countries, the emirate’s trade within the region, especially with Saudi Arabia accounting for 45 per cent of Dubai’s total trade within the region, is witnessing higher pace of growth, stated a recently-released report by the Dubai Chamber of Commerce and Industry. The report pointed out that in 2011 Dubai’s trade with GCC countries recorded 20 per cent growth rate to a value of Dh74 billion, and it rose further to 28 per cent in 2012 to a total value of Dh94.8 billion. Although the growth rate slowed down in 2013, it remained high at 20 per cent to a value of Dh113.8 billion. With oil prices declining in the global market, the slowdown in growth became more defined in the following year, growing by only 3 per cent, to Dh117.5 billion. However, it recorded 8 per cent growth in 2015, with the total trade value reaching Dh126.6 billion. The report showed that Oman and Kuwait followed Saudi Arabia with 19 per cent and 16 per cent, respectively. While Qatar’s GDP at $210.1 billion was larger than of Oman land Kuwait, at respective values of $81.8 billion and $163.6 billion, its share of trade with Dubai was lower at 12 per cent. Being the smallest economy, with GDP of $33.9 billion and population of 1.36 million, Bahrain accounted for the lowest share of 8 per cent of Dubai’s trade in the region. Hamad Buamim, President and CEO, Dubai Chamber, said: “The latest Dubai Chamber report highlights Dubai’s leading status as the regional commercial hub with state-of-the art infrastructure and a world class business environment. Over the years, Dubai Chamber has been the main engine of trade growth in Dubai, and contributed to the development of the emirate’s economy by creating a favourable atmosphere for investment and business. Dubai’s robust trade ties with the GCC countries highlight its key role in enhancing business and trade activities in the region and beyond.” According to the report, Dubai’s non-oil trade has maintained a pace of sustained growth in recent years and achieved significant growth of 18 per cent in 2011 to Dh1.06 trillion, and of 16 per cent in 2012 to Dh1.23 trillion, with a decreased growth of 8 per cent in 2013, to a total value of Dh1.33 trillion. The following year’s performance was just about the same at a value of Dh1.33 trillion, while in 2015 it was Dh1.28 trillion. The report said that trade with all the GCC countries in 2015 had been favourable to Dubai, leading to a total net trade of Dh87 billion during the year. Highest net trade resulted from trade with Saudi Arabia, for a share of 51 per cent of the total, while net trade with Oman contributed 18 per cent. Trade with Kuwait and Qatar both led to shares of 13 per cent to total net trade, while trade with Bahrain accounted for 5 per cent. Products contributing to net trade According to the report, mineral products dominated Dubai’s imports from GCC countries. The 2015 total import value of the product group of Dh10.5 billion accounted for a share of 53 per cent of the total imports from the region. Meanwhile, Dubai’s export of pearls, precious and semi-precious stones and metals as well as jewellery to the region reached Dh13.8 billion, or 51 per cent of the total export value. Machinery and electrical and electronic equipment and parts dominated re-exports, with the Dh46.7 billion re-export value accounting for 59 per cent of total re-exports to the region, it said. Although Dubai’s trade on machinery and electrical and electronic equipment and parts as well as on pearls and precious stones and metals and jewelleries was responsible for the largest contributions to Dubai’s trade surpluses from all GCC countries, the intensity varied from country to country. For instance, Dubai’s trade with Saudi Arabia on machinery and electrical and electronic equipment and parts led to a trade surplus of Dh30.5 billion, overshadowing all other product groups that contributed to trade surplus such as pearls and precious stones and metals and jewelleries and transport equipment, the report stated. Dubai’s trade on the two products groups with the other GCC countries also resulted in large trade surpluses. However, it was notable that in the case of Dubai’s trade with Bahrain, the trade surplus from machinery and electrical and electronic equipment and parts came second to the trade surplus from
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20-06-2016
One thing that UAE employees do before accepting a job A whopping 75.6% of respondents in the Middle East and North Africa (Mena) usually research a company online before considering a job offer
The success of any business largely depends on the quality of the employees it attracts and retains. According to a recent Bayt.com Trends in Employer Branding in the Middle East and North Africa poll, conducted by business facilitation company Naseba and Bayt.com, 84.5% of the respondents believe that engaging with potential job seekers on social platforms is positive for a company's employer branding. The study revealed that a company’s online presence is vital in shaping its perception among potential employees. A whopping 75.6% of respondents in the Middle East and North Africa (Mena) usually research a company online before considering a job offer. When visiting a company website or an employer’s branding page, job seekers named several features they would love to see, including a ‘reasons to join’ section (32%), a ‘description of the vision, mission and culture’ (9.5%), ‘testimonials and actual experiences from employees’ (8.4%), ‘company awards and accolades’ (4.2%), a ‘letter from the CEO’ (4%) videos of the teams (3.2%), or an ‘FAQ in a tone [they] like’ (2.7%). 36% of Mena respondents would like to see all of these features equally on an employer’s branding page. In terms of answering the age-old question “Whose territory is this, exactly?” respondents believe that employer branding is the joint responsibility of the HR department and the marketing department, at 18.7% equally. And companies looking to position themselves as a great place to work need to pay close attention to their posts, tweets and snaps: 39.8% of respondents state that social media is the most important channel for a company to brand itself as a great employer in the region. “Employer branding is more important than ever before,” said Suhail Masri, VP of Employer Solutions at Bayt.com. “With almost 85% of respondents believing that engaging on social platforms is positive for an employer’s brand, it is essential that companies mandate a social media strategy that also includes recruitment objectives.” Respondents named ‘reputation and culture (11.9%) and ‘work environment’ (11.3%) as the two most important aspects to attract talent, while rewards and recognition came last with 5.3%. Respondents also value ‘training and learning opportunities’ (10.7%), ‘leadership in industry’ (9.2%) and ‘career advancement opportunities’ (9%). The largest proportion of respondents agreeing that all aspects are “equally” important (42.6%). Alongside all of these “dos”, respondents also identified “don’ts”. Being known to let go of people without valid reasons and having unhappy employees came as the two worse mistakes a company could make, according to 17.3% and 13.7% of respondents respectively, while ignoring applications of candidates came third (11.5%) and ‘weak job descriptions lacking detail and full of mistakes’ followed (5%). 34.2% agreed that avoiding all these factors together is equally important for a company. When considering a new job, the most important features for Mena respondents are that ‘the company offers great career opportunities’ (12.8%), ‘the company is known to be a great place to work’ (9.3%), ‘the company pays the highest salaries’ (9.3%), ‘the company offers the best training’ (7.3%), ‘the company has a great leadership’ (4.9%), ‘the company has great products and services’ (3.0%), and ‘the company is prestigious’ (2.7%). Again, the majority (43.2%) of respondents consider all of the aforementioned reasons to be equally as important for a new job. Being perceived as a great place to work results in better employee engagement, according to 23.4% of respondents. Other benefits include a higher job acceptance rate, according to 12.4% of respondents, and ‘recognition as an employer of choice’ (11.4%). These results comfort the sentiment of HR practitioners who, over the past year, have increasingly focused on fostering employee engagement and building a corporate culture as a way to attract and retain top talent. ‘Wellness policies like free gym subscriptions and healthy, fresh food’ was cited as the most important perk/benefit in their place of employment for 21.6% Mena respondents, this was followed by ‘flexible hours and dress code’ and ‘regular fun office events and activities’ for 18.9% and 11.2% respectively. In terms of current places of employment, professionals were asked if their companie
news
16-06-2016
No more work under the sun, stipulates Ministry of Labor
RIYADH: The Ministry of Labor and Social Development (MLSD) clamped a ban on laborers working in the field from 12 noon to 3 p.m. beginning Wednesday. Dr. Fahid Alaoide, deputy minister for inspection and development of work environment at the MLSD, said here that the ban will be effective till Sept. 15, as part of the ministry’s efforts to protect the safety and health of workers in the private sector and also provide them a secure healthy working environment. Pointing out that ministerial decision No. 3337, dated 15/7/1435, puts in place instructions relating to the work ban under the sun in both letter and spirit, the official said that the ban protects outdoor workers from possible danger in accordance to the standards of occupational safety and health. “The decision prohibits allowing the employee to engage in work that is exposed under the direct sunlight from 12 noon to 3 p.m. between June 15 and September15 that occur every year of the Gregorian calendar,” he noted. Alaoide added that the decision makes an exception for oil and gas companies and maintenance employees working during emergencies, providing that employers make necessary measures to protect them from the hot sun. The deputy minister urged employers to abide by the midday work ban in the light of the ministry’s unswerving efforts to maintain a proper working environment against diverse dangers and raise the performance of work. In reference to efforts made, the ministry has sought to implement protection measures to limit work injuries and accidents, which would lead to the improvement of production levels, Alaoide stressed. Alaoide also added the exemption continues to cover various parts of the Kingdom due to fluctuating temperatures from one city to another. Meanwhile, some temperatures drop down in some cities and rural areas, which does not require such suspension of work during the mentioned duration, he added. The directors general of the ministry’s branches have been notified to coordinate with governorates across the Kingdom to regulate the ban, he said further. Such a move is a bid to define to what extent interdiction should be enforced in work as the climatic conditions and heatwaves of each province is accordingly varied. Alaoide called upon Saudi citizens and residents to file an inquiry or a complaint regarding the decision by contacting the customer service no. at 19911 or visiting the “Rasd” website at http://rasd.ma3an.gov.sa/.
news
14-06-2016
UAE Labour Law: Employers must give detailed job offers - termination terms Global regulatory framework to boost Islamic finance transactions discussed
The UAE’s Ministerial Development Council, presided by Sheikh Mansour bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Presidential Affairs, discussed the preparation of a global regulatory framework for Islamic finance as part of the UAE government vision to make the country a global centre for Islamic economy. The proposal includes setting comprehensive standards for Islamic finance transactions under a global regulatory framework. As a first-of-its-kind initiative, the system will help overcome challenges facing the Islamic finance industry, including inconsistencies in the practical applications of Islamic finance transactions, and multiple taxation issues related to lack of awareness about Islamic transactions, which have led to higher costs in Islamic transactions, affecting the growth of Islamic finance industry and reflecting negatively on Islamic economies. Labour law reviewed The Council also reviewed the new decisions announced by the Ministry of Human Resources and Emiratisation earlier this year, including reviewing the labour law on contract models adopted by the ministry. According to the Ministry of Human Resources and Emiratisation, employers are required to provide detailed job offer to workers they intend to employ, whether from inside or outside the country. The offer should also include a comprehensive description of the rights and obligations of the parties involved in a language understandable by the worker, and mention the accurate terms and conditions of termination of the employment, whether in fixed-term or unlimited contracts. It should also include accurate descriptions of the conditions and regulations related to a new work permit for a worker after the termination of the previous employment contract. IT to boost judicial procedures The Council also discussed memorandum of federal legislation on utilizing information technology to enhance the effectiveness of the judicial procedures, and setting a sophisticated penal system to enhance the country's position in global indices, and develop legal services in line with international best practices. Reports reviewed The Council reviewed as well the State Audit Institution Report for the unified final account of the Union for the financial year ended December 31, 2015, and the report of the final account and financial operations of the Federal Electricity and Water Authority for the financial year ended December 31, 2015.
news
14-06-2016
Mid-day break rule in UAE from tomorrow; upto Dh50,000 fine 80,000 inspection visits to be carried out across UAE
The mid-day break rule commences in the UAE tomorrow [Wednesday, June 15, 2016]. The Ministry of Human Resources and Emiratisation has banned any sort of work under direct sunlight between 12.30pm until 3pm. The mid-day break will continue until September 15. Maher Al Obed, Assistant Undersecretary for Inspectional Affairs, said, "Eighteen teams from the ministry will monitor to ensure the rule is followed through the period. Three teams have been formed in Abu Dhabi, two in Al Ain, four in Dubai, two in Sharjah, two in Ajman, two in Ras Al Khaimah, two in Fujairah and one team in Umm Al Quwain." He said that 20,000 awareness field visits are planned, which has already begun from May 26. "The teams are ready to hit 60,000 inspectional visits across the nation to make sure all facilities follow the law," he said. Also, an internal committee shall be ready to receive any grievance requests and handle it transparently and objectively. "Ministry inspectors will, for the first time, deal with smart inspections system, a new mechanism that will make it easier to monitor and document any violations," said Al Obed. Overtime compensation Saqr bin Ghobash Saeed Ghobash, Minister of Human Resources and Emiratisation, declared the decree, which enters its 12th consecutive year. It is based on general safety and health procedures which the UAE adapts to, to prevent any sort of work related injuries, in accordance with international standards. Ghobash pointed out that working hours shall be divided into two shufts - morning and evening - for eight hours daily. If employees work overtime, then they must be compensated according to the laws. The ruling also requires employers to post a clear schedule informing workers of the daily working hours during the mid-day break period, plus providing shelter to them during the resting periods. Employers are urged to provide all necessary health kits to cater to workers exposed to hazards and dangerous tools. Violators fined Violators will be fined Dh5,000 per worker found working during the announced break hours, to a maximum of Dh50,000 if the case involves a huge number of workers. The company will be degraded and possibly stopped from operating temporarily. Exceptional cases For exceptional cases, where continuous work is required, Humaid bin Deemas, Labour Affairs Assistant Undersecretary, launched a decree stating that employers must provide workers with salt and lemon, which is approved for use by health authorities in the country. Employers must provide all facilities that cater to the health of workers, including first aid, air-conditioners, sunshades and cold water. Works excluded from working hours ban include work on mix asphalt poured concretes if it is impossible to implement or supplement the necessary work in one day or doing work to prevent expected danger or reparation or damage or malfunction or loss and also emergency work, including cutting lines, water supply, sewerage, electricity and cutting off traffic or blocking public roads, in addition to cut gas pipelines or petroleum flow.
news
14-06-2016
Green card only for foreign investors, top expats
JEDDAH: Saudi green card will only be given to foreign investors and highly qualified experts among expats, according to a top Shoura Council official. He said a number of ministries are still studying the procedures of granting the permanent residence card. The regulations will be announced soon. Speaking to Arab News, Fahd bin Jumaa, vice president of Economic Committee at the consultative body, said the Kingdom expects to reap economic benefits generated by experts in the expat community. Many expats are eyeing the card that will enable them to stay in the Kingdom. “The new system will be similar to the US residence model. The Saudi government is interested in taking advantage of foreign investors and extraordinary expats,” bin Jumaa said. Awad Al-Assiri, a Shoura Council member, previously told Arab News that the plan would be discussed in the body’s full sessions, in the same way other legislation is studied before being passed to the Cabinet for approval. “The green card will attract foreign investment to the Kingdom. Many expatriates will take advantage of the new program. At the same time, the Kingdom will benefit from the fees paid by expats to have a green card,” he said. The system is expected to generate around $10 billion annually through reduced remittances and other sources, besides bringing in billions of dollars in foreign investment, say economic experts. The plan will abolish the existing sponsorship system, with expatriates required to pay Zakat and possibly value-added tax. The card will also allow them to own property and undertake business activities. The Kingdom is home to over 10 million foreign workers.
news
10-06-2016
Out of Dubai and want to cancel your residency visa? There's a way to do it Service made available to those who wish to cancel their residency while staying outside the country
It is advisable to cancel your residency visa when you are relocating from Dubai. The procedure is fairly simple if you are in Dubai but you can still cancel your residency without making a trip back. If you have a valid residence visa, and have stayed outside the UAE over 6 months, your visa will become invalid or expired, but it is advisable to cancel it, failing which you may be denied a new visa by the country. Cancelling residency visa, if you are outside, is not a tedious job. According to the General Directorate of Residency and Foreigners Affairs-Dubai, there is a service made available to those who wish to cancel their residency while staying outside the country. For those spending more than 6 months outside UAE Sponsored individuals who have stayed more than 6 months outside the country will need certain documents to avail this service. These include: • A request cancellation of residence e-form with signature of the sponsor. • Original passport or departure statement of the sponsored person showing the residency has expired. When the individual spends less than 6 months out of the country Documents required for cancellation of residency while outside the country for those who didn't stay a duration of six months include: • A cancellation of residency e-form with signature of the sponsor • Passports of sponsored person or expiry of the residency outside the country. The sponsored person's residency may be cancelled without staying more than 6 months or expiry of their residency in case of cancelling the residency of their sponsor. The UAE ID card is also needed. Once you have all the required documents, you need to pay Dh70 cancellation fee paid by the (e-form) to typists. Another Dh130 departure fee is applicable. Once this is done, it will take one working day as processing time.
news
06-06-2016
Human trafficking should be dealt with through national strategy: Minister
KUWAIT: Human trafficking and migrants smuggling in all of its manifestations should be dealt with through setting up a national strategy, Minister of Justice and Minister of Awqaf and Islamic Affairs Yagoub Al-Sane stressed yesterday. Human trafficking is a direct violation to human rights, the minister said in a press conference on the matter. He added that the Kuwaiti constitution protects the rights of people regardless of their race and nationalities, hence comes the importance of setting up a national strategy to counter human trafficking and migrant smuggling. This national strategy, once approved by the Cabinet, will prevent, protect and build various levels of partnerships, he said. Meanwhile, Director General of Public Authority of Civil Information (PACI) Musaad Al-Asousi said a data base on statistics and demography of all nationalities will be available to help the strategy to achieve its goal. In the meantime, Interior Ministry Assistant Undersecretary for Criminal Security Major General Abdulhamid Al-Awadhi said that a human trafficking department was established and 8 cases were arrested. He noted that there is an existing cooperation with international organizations the U.S. embassy to combat this phenomenon.
news
06-06-2016
Jobs in Banking: Dubai, Abu Dhabi are bankers' top choices UAE cities are global hubs of finance, offering enormous potential for ambitious individuals
Dubai stands prominently on the list of the top five cities that graduates seek the most when it comes to a career in finance. With almost a quarter of votes (23 per cent), Dubai is the world’s second most sought-after city where finance graduates wish to start their careers, according to a new report by deVere Group, an independent financial advisory organisation. The UAE seems to score well, with Abu Dhabi too being a preferred choice for graduates to land a job here. It comes fifth on the list with 7 per cent votes. New York, with 34 per cent of respondents voting for the city, is the number one global destination for graduates who successfully completed the graduate programme at the company. These graduates were then asked in which location, within the company’s network of more than 70 offices, would they like to start their financial services career. Hong Kong is third on the list with 17 per cent respondents hoping to start a career here. This is followed by Sydney in the fourth place (13 per cent). The remaining 6 per cent is made up of other destinations including Shanghai, Cape Town, Geneva, Paris, Barcelona and London. “The order of the top five destinations changes with each group of grads we take on, but New York, Dubai, Hong Kong, Sydney and Abu Dhabi are typically in the top ten somewhere,” says deVere Group CEO and founder Nigel Green. “This is because, quite understandably, these global hubs of finance and commerce represent centres of enormous possibilities for young, ambitious individuals about to embark on careers as international wealth-advisory professionals. “There are some common traits amongst these cities, including that English is commonly spoken, they are politically and economically stable, there is a high level of internationally-minded high net worth individuals, and by relocating to these places one can usually expect comparatively high financial rewards. “With each of the top five destinations offering unique opportunities and challenges, each one attracts grads who have often quite markedly different strengths and weaknesses, skill sets and aspiration,” he adds.
news
04-06-2016
BUSINESS PEOPLE TO BE ISSUED LONG- TERM VISAS
RIYADH: A plan to grant long-term visas to businesspeople from developed countries will be implemented, according to an official from the Foreign Ministry. Osama Al-Sanusi, undersecretary at the ministry for consular affairs, said the ministry is preparing agreements that would be signed between the Kingdom and such countries. Those organizing trade shows would also be allowed visas. Arrangements were being made to issue these visas online, he said. Al-Sanusi was speaking Thursday at a meeting in Riyadh with officials from the Council of Saudi Chambers (CSC). The CSC’s Chairman Abdul Rahman Al-Zamil, Secretary General Omar Bahlaiwa and senior officials were present. Al-Sanusi said that the government realizes the importance of the private sector in boosting trade with important countries. Al-Zamil thanked the foreign ministry officials for their cooperation.
news
02-06-2016
Kuwait removed from list of labor rights violators – Subaih urges world to protect workers’ rights
GENEVA: Kuwait has been removed from a list of countries that the International Labor Organization (ILO) considers violating labor rights, Minister of Social Affairs and Labor Hind Al-Subaih said yesterday. The removal of Kuwait’s name was a result of great efforts by national authorities to address all shortcomings related to labor issues, Subaih, also Minister of State for Planning and Development, said in a statement to KUNA. She underlined that Kuwait worked hard to address all remarks raised by ILO regarding labor issues. She said she met with Ruba Jaradat, regional director of the ILO’s Arab Office, describing the discussion as “constructive”. Subaih said they discussed the development of the manpower authority and cooperation between Kuwait and the countries exporting workers to Kuwait. She said they also discussed the unions’ law. Kuwait also called on the international community to apply the human rights laws to provide better living conditions for all people, including development and social equality. “It is an international responsibility to end the suffering of citizens in Palestine and other occupied Arab lands, who are deprived of their simplest rights as humans and are denied of having decent jobs,” Subaih said during the 105th session of the International Labor Conference yesterday. “Kuwait is keen to cooperate with the world to achieve the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) for 2030,” she added. In this context, she said that Kuwait is executing many projects aiming to develop the country on all levels and provide people with a better life. Subaih noted that the country has issued several laws that allow those in charge of applying these legislations to further protect the rights of people. She added that Kuwait also established the Public Authority for Manpower and a center for sheltering foreign workers with a capacity to receive 500 people. The center provides health, mental and legal services to expatriates, she noted. Meanwhile, Subaih said a meeting of GCC ministers of social affairs, held on the sidelines of the ILO conference, was very fruitful and they discussed labor legislations. They also finalized an MoU for vocational safety and labor regulations. – KUNA
news
02-06-2016
Human rights in KSA secure
JEDDAH: Bandar bin Mohammed Al-Aiban, president of the Human Rights Commission, has confirmed the Kingdom’s commitment to the protection and promotion of human rights, and its steadfast methodology derived from Islamic law. This necessitates the protection of human rights in a way that balances the interests of the individual with that of the community. He stressed that security, stability and prosperity are key factors in the movement of civilization toward sustainable development that respects and protects human rights through the enactment of laws and regulations. This must be accompanied by the establishment of government institutions and support for civil society institutions. He made these observations at the tenth session of the Arab Human Rights Committee, held at the Arab League headquarters in Cairo. Al-Aiban explained that the report submitted by the Kingdom included detailed information on the efforts and achievements in the field of human rights in the Kingdom within a legal and institutional framework that promotes and protects these rights which are reinforced by control measures, and effective remedies. He said the Kingdom is committed to all international conventions which do not conflict with the provisions of Islamic law, calling for joint action to keep human rights from politicization. “Our region is witnessing many tragedies before which the world stands silent. First and foremost is the Palestinian tragedy, where the Palestinian people are exposed to the worst human rights violations: the killing of civilians, especially women and children; arbitrary arrests, torture, house demolitions, settlement expansion, the Judaizing of Jerusalem, and the dispossession of the Palestinian people of their most basic rights to establish their independent state with Jerusalem as its capital.” Al-Aiban highlighted the Kingdom’s humanitarian relief efforts to alleviate the sufferings of people. “The King Salman Center for Relief and Humanitarian Aid was established for relief work and millions of those affected have benefited.” Hadi bin Ali Al-Yami, chairman of the Arab Human Rights Committee, thanked Saudi Arabia for its ratification of the Arab Charter of Human Rights, and its keenness to provide the first report of the commission, and the facilities provided in March for an overview on the progress of human rights. “This session is a milestone in the march of the Arab Human Rights Committee,” he said. Ahmed Ben Helli, deputy secretary-general of the Arab League, stressed the importance of the session “especially at this crucial time that the Arab world is going through.” He praised the “efforts made by Saudi Arabia to promote human rights, as well as the important steps taken by King Salman including the holding of municipal elections with the participation of women for the first time and giving them the right to vote.
news
01-06-2016
Want salary advance? UAE banks offer payday loans Islamic banks offering pay day loans, salary in advance
Facing an emergency or temporary cash shortage? UAE banks are here to help – for a fee. While some companies offer salary advance to employees going on vacation or in emergency situations, loan against salary credit facility is available from some UAE banks. Banks like Dubai Islamic Bank and ADCB (Islamic Banking) are offering this facility to customers who have their salaries credited regularly to the bank. Payday loans are common in Europe, America and Africa, and now UAE banks are offering them too. “I have been regularly receiving SMS messages inquiring whether I am interested in taking my salary in advance from my bank account with a note that said terms and conditions apply. Since I did not know the terms and conditions, I did not opt for it, but some of my friends have availed this facility,” said an Islamic bank customer, whose salary is regularly credited to the account. Dubai Islamic Bank has a scheme whereby customers who have their salaries transferred to the bank can avail an advance salary facility and withdraw up to 90 per cent of their monthly net salary. DIB will charge Dh295 per transaction for salary in-advance amount of Dh1,000 to Dh 13,500 and for salary advance from Dh13,501 to Dh30,000, a service fee of Dh500 per transaction will be deducted. The maximum salary advance will be about 90 per cent of the net salary, after deducting all other obligations from the salary account. The full Al Islami Salary in Advance amount will be recovered on receiving customers salary in the current account provided that it does not exceed the last day of the same month or the first date of the month that follows. “Even though the advance salary facility is available every month, salaried customers who avail the facility have to return the full amount at the end of the month,” says the bank’s official page. In the case of ADCB (Islamic Banking), the bank’s Islamic Privilege Club members are eligible for a salary advance facility of up to Dh20,000. The bank offers salary advance facility to anyone having a current account and minimum salary of Dh12,000 per month. Dh100 is charged for opening the salary advance facility and Dh100 per year for renewing the facility, a customer service agent of ADCB said. RAKBank, too, offers salary advance facilities for customers who have a minimum salary of Dh5,000 and the cost is Dh150 plus prevailing interest rates, with a minimum fee of Dh50. The advance is repaid from the following month’s salary credited directly to the account. It is open to anyone having their salary transferred directly to RAK Bank, but the amount will be subject to credit approval and a charge will be made as per the bank’s service and price guide.
news
31-05-2016
UAE committed to protecting workers' rights: Minister of Labour Ministry is implementing laws and conducting campaigns
The UAE's commitment to protecting labour rights is in implementation of national laws and ethical values and obligations towards workers the country is hosting, through decent work and living conditions that preserve their dignity under temporary contractual work relationship based on mutual consent and transparency, said Saqr bin Ghobash Saeed Ghobash, UAE Minister of Human Resources and Emiratisation. ''Towards this end, the ministry is implementing a package of policies, laws and monitoring mechanisms to strike a balance and stability in work relations with the aim of protecting workers' rights and interest of employers. The ministry is also conducting a series of campaigns to educate both contracting parties about their legal obligations,'' the minister said in a statement on the sidelines of the 105th International Labour Conference in Geneva on Monday, which lasts until June 10. The minister affirmed that the UAE is working with labour-sending countries under the Abu Dhabi Dialogue to address negative aspects the workers are experiencing due to malpractices of unscrupulous employment agencies. The UAE delegation to the ILO conference, which includes representatives from the public sector, employers and workers, participated separately in the meetings of the GCC and Arab labour groups to co-ordinate the stance in regards to the agenda of the ILO conference which serves their interests. Government, Employers’ and Workers’ representatives from 187 member states discussed a series of work issues including global supply chains, decent work for peace, security and disaster resilience, as well as the impact of the ILO Declaration on Social Justice for a Fair Globalisation. Delegates will also consider amendments to the Code of the Maritime Labour Convention and review the report of the Director-General on poverty.
news
31-05-2016
Employers of illegal migrants in Saudi: Dh100,000 fine 6-months jail also for offenders
Saudi Arabia has warned employers of illegal migrants they would be jailed for up to six months, fined SR100,000 (Dh100,000) and deported if they are expatriates. Employers who repeat the offence will also be defamed in newspapers and social networks and banned from recruiting foreign labour. “Those who employ illegal expatriate workers, mainly housemaids, provide homes or help them in any way will be jailed up to six months and fined SR100,000. “In case they are expatriates, they will be deported from the Kingdom,” the Saudi Interior Ministry said in a statement, carried by ‘Sabq’ and other newspapers.
news
30-05-2016
UAE to issue new anti-human trafficking law Part of strategy to ensure human rights for all
The UAE intends to issue a new law to combat human trafficking within a strategy to protect the rights of all residents, according to an official report. The report by the national committee for combating human trafficking said the UAE receives thousands of expatriates every year for jobs but that some of them are exploited by global criminals, adding that those workers are victims of deceit and realise their plight only after they arrive in the country. The report said the UAE had managed to deal with those criminals and that such achievements have been recognised by the international community. “New amendments to the law have been issued and there will be more legislation in this respect,” the report said. It said that under the new legislations, victims will be informed about their rights in an understandable language and will be allowed to express their rights and needs. Victims will also be provided with home if necessary and allowed to stay in the UAE as long as they are needed by the court, the report said. The law also authorises the court to appoint a lawyer for victims at their request, said the report, which was published by 'Emarat Al Youm' Arabic language daily. It showed 17 major human trafficking cases were recorded in Dubai in 2015, involving 24 women and resulting in the arrest of 54 human traffickers. The victims last year included mainly women from Asia and Africa and aged between six months and 45 years. Crimes included child abuse, sexual offences, rape, verbal abuse and financial violations.
news
28-05-2016
Termination pay you are entitled to in the UAE... UAE courts tend to favour employment contracts that are more favourable to employee
The amount of money that is given to an employee on termination can vary depending on several factors, say UAE-based legal experts. Knowing the law, therefore, is vital. When in doubt, employees should refer to their contracts, which should specify the amount that will be due to them on termination. “It [compensation that one is supposed to receive upon termination] varies depending on the circumstances of each case,” says Jamie Liddington, Head of Employment at legal firm Hadef & Partners. “An employee who is dismissed arbitrarily can expect to receive an award of compensation to include (among other contractual entitlements) – payment in lieu of any unpaid part of the notice period; payment in lieu of accrued but untaken annual leave; up to three months’ wages as compensation for arbitrary termination and end of service gratuity,” he told Emirates 24|7. “Each employee’s notice period should be written in the contract of employment. All employees must be paid their full salary and benefits for the duration of the contractual notice period until their termination date,” says Thenji Macanda, Senior Associate at Taylor Wessing (Middle East) law firm. What the law says As per Macanda, if no notice period is specified in the contract of employment, then according to Article 117 of the UAE Labour Law, at least 30 days’ written notice should be provided. This period differs for daily paid workers who have been employed for less than 5 years. “Article 118 of the UAE Labour law states that a contract of employment will continue to be valid for the notice period and the parties cannot agree to reduce or dispense with the notice period. If, however, an employer reduces the notice period and terminates the employee before the end of the notice period then in accordance with Article 119 of the UAE Labour law, the employee must be paid compensation in lieu of notice equivalent to the notice period. The parties can increase the notice period and if this is done, then the employee must be paid their contractual pay for the duration of the notice,” she elaborates. When can your employer forfeit your termination compensation? The law fully protects workers in the country but there are certain clauses under which there will be notice period from the employer’s side and subsequently no payments. Liddington clarifies that employees who are dismissed “for cause” (under Articles 88 or 120 of the Labour Law) will not be entitled to receive notice of termination (or payment in lieu of notice) and they are likely to forfeit the end of service gratuity. Contract letter v/s Labour Law – what will hold? What will hold - the contract letter that is signed between the employer and the employee or the labour law of the country in case of termination? Again, there is no clear cut verdict that can be followed here but the courts usually uphold the one that is more favourable to employees. “Where there is inconsistency or conflict between the company supplementary contract and the Ministry of Labour contract/free zone contract, the courts tend to favour the employment contract that is more favourable to the employee,” says Macanda. “As an example, if the company supplementary contract sets out a two month notice period (which is over and about the one month statutory notice set out in the Labour Law), the company will be held to the longer notice period of two months. We always recommend to employers that they should strive to ensure that the all contracts mirror each other as far as possible to avoid uncertainly,” she adds. The Hadef expert says ideally, the Labour courts will allow the employee to rely on whichever (contract or Labour Law) is most favourable. “Both the standard form (Ministry of Human Resources and Emiratization or free zone) employment contract and any supplemental private contract are potentially enforceable documents and to the extent that the terms of any contract are less advantageous to the employee than the Labour Law, they will not be valid or enforceable. “In the event that the terms of the contract(s) are more favourable than the Labour Law, the courts will apply the more favourable contractual term. Where the terms of the standard form contract conflict with the terms of the private contract, the courts’ approach is to allow employees to rely on the more favourable of the two conflicting terms,” he adds
news
28-05-2016
Too sick to work? Your UAE labour card may be cancelled Employee infected with a disease that hinders their work may have labour card cancelled: Ministry
An employee’s labour card may be cancelled because of a medical ailment or underlying disability that makes them unfit to resume work, according to the UAE’s Ministry of Human Resources & Emiratisation. An employee who becomes infected with a disease that stands in the way of his work may have his labour card cancelled, says the UAE ministry. This is a service provided to any establishment to cancel the labour card of a worker because of sickness or disease. However, there are set conditions that need to be followed for cancelling the card under this category. • A sick cancellation medical letter from a hospital, stamped by the Ministry of Health, is required to avail of this service. • Prior to cancelling the labour card, the worker shall first cancel her/his visa at General Directorate of Residency and Foreigners Affairs or its affiliated centres in the country. They should also have established an electronic signature card. The application to cancel the card should be printed and required documents shall be scanned at service centres throughout the establishments participating in the ministry’s e-forms programme. The application is then transferred electronically to the ministry database for verification and to make sure all required conditions are met with the needed documents. Sick leaves and what the law says You need to notify the employer if you fall sick. Article 82 of the UAE Labour Law states that should the worker sustain an illness not caused by an occupational injury, he must notify the employer within two days at most. The employer then shall take the necessary procedures to get a medical examination done in order to verify the stated illness. Furthermore, Article 83 (as amended by Federal Law no. 12 dated 29/10/1986) states a full time employee is entitled to a sick leave not exceeding 90 consecutive or non-consecutive days for every year of service. After the said period, Article 85 permits the employer to terminate the service of the worker if s/he exhausts the sick leaves and is not able to report back to work.
news
28-05-2016
Over 100 UAE visa applications forged... Accused processed applications of residents who were illegible to sponsor their families
A public relation officer (PRO), an officer of Dubai Residency and Foreigners Affairs and two brothers working at typing centres allegedly issued family residence visas to residents who were ineligible to sponsor their families by forging the residency contracts, the Dubai Criminal Court was told in a hearing on Wednesday. The PRO, ZH, 46, is accused of collecting Dh900,000 over three months as bribes from the two typing centres’ employees who supplied her with the applications. The PRO has a sister who works for the department. She agreed through her sister’s colleague AH, 42, a sergeant who works for the typing centre branch, to issue residence visas to families of expatriates who were illegible to sponsor their families. The officer exploited her position in the department and issued 127 illegal residence visas. She was also charged for failing to collect Dh220 per transactions as department’s fees for opening a file. The two employees who worked at different tying centres were brothers. They agreed with the PRO and the officer to issue residence visas by forging tenancy contracts for applicants who do not have one. A tip-off was made to the security department about the PRO who had submitted illegal applications for family visas. Upon checking the information, the department found out that there were residency sponsorship applications made by low-paid expats. During the investigation, officers did not find any supporting documents attached to those transactions, hence raising suspicion that the applicant was illegible to sponsor his family. On checking with the officer who approved applications, she admitted to processing them without checking the originals. “I trust the PRO, ZH, whose sister works with us, so I did not check transactions she submitted. I left the copies with ZH for her to pay fees through the bank, believing that she would submit them back to me later,” she excused. Investigators testified that the transactions timings in the system proved that she did not even take a look at the documents as the gap between each transaction was barely a few seconds. The PRO admitted that she had submitted documents on daily basis on behalf of people although she was not authorised to do so. She was a PRO on behalf of companies – not individuals. Although she was not authorised, the officer accepted applications from her. The typing centres employees admitted forging documents. But the officer of the Department of Foreigners Affairs denied taking bribe. A type centre’s computer operator admitted paying Dh65,000-70,000 to the PRO for the illegal applications. The typist admitted that his brother, SA, who worked in a nieghbouring typing centre managed to forge leases for illegible applicants to be enclosed with residency sponsorship applications
news
24-05-2016
Three Saudis sentenced to death for burying five Indian workers alive
Riyadh: The General Court in Al-Taif sentenced three Saudi nationals to death in connection with the mass grave which was discovered in the governorate. The court indicted the convicts of burying five Indian labourers alive in a farm located in the City of Safwa in the Governorate of Al-Taif four years ago. Forensic experts examined the remnants of the Indian workers from a mass grave in Duwalib farm in Safwa and established that they were aged in their thirties and forties. Police arrested the first Saudi national after a criminal investigation revealed that he was associated with the victims in producing and selling alcohol illegally, reported local Arabic daily Al-Riyadh. During interrogation, he told the police about two other accomplices who were already serving jail terms in connection with other criminal cases. They confessed to forcing the Indians to use narcotic pills ‘Al-Rosh’ around 10pm, tying them, and beating them repeatedly before burying them alive in 1.5-metre-deep hole in the farm. They claimed that they were under the effect of drugs and alcohol, alleging that one of the Indian labourers harassed his employer’s daughter and other women.
news
24-05-2016
Breach of contract: Housemaid suppliers to refund fees
JEDDAH — Recruitment companies and manpower suppliers are obliged to refund recruitment fees or provide an alternative domestic worker in case of breach of contract. Offices of recruitment companies or manpower suppliers will be sealed if workers do not show up at work place or refuse to work or if the ministry receives a number of complaints against a particular office. Khaled Abalkhail, spokesman of the ministry, said the ministry has allowed recruitment offices to offer the services of domestic workers with the possibility to transfer their sponsorship to citizens or residents after the end of probation period. Recruitment companies are also allowed to offer the services of domestic works based on hourly work agreement with families. Abalkhail said the ministry has approved these services to meet the demand of citizens and reduce expenses on recruitment from abroad. He said that the Ministry of Labor and Social Development is coordinating with the general security to monitor the market and stop people from recruiting runaway domestic workers illegally. All media outlets — especially social media sites — where ads offering the services of illegal housemaids appear are being monitored, he said. Such violations amount to human trafficking and the perpetrators will get up to a 15-year jail term or SR1 million fine or both. Nawaf Al-Faqm, a member of the Shoura Council, called on the ministry to monitor the black market and recruitment expenses of domestic workers, especially now as Ramadan approaches. The domestic workers’ rate in the black market during Ramadan go up to SR4,000. The low supply and high demand of domestic workers before the onset of the fasting month have increased the number of advertisements offering their services. Many advertisements offer transferring the sponsorship of domestic workers of various nationalities for amounts that range from SR35,000 to SR18,000.
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21-05-2016
All UAE citizens to receive e-passports from next year: Ministry of Interior Major General Khalifa Al Khaiaili says majority of UAE passports to be replaced with new e-passports by year-end
Major General Khalifa Hareb Al Khaiaili, Acting Assistant Undersecretary of the Ministry of Interior (MoI) for Naturalization, Residency and Ports Affairs, stressed the Ministry’s keenness to provide outstanding services, conforming to the best of international standards, to enhance public confidence and customer satisfaction with such services. This approach falls in line with the UAE Government’s directives aimed at nurturing a high quality of life for the UAE society and embodies the MoI’s customer satisfaction strategy. He said this measure is taken to keep pace with the latest global developments and leverage modern technology, in keeping with the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO), who issued a deadline for countries to transition to e-passports. He said: “The UAE began issuing e-passports for citizens in 2011 and the majority of passports will be replaced with new e-passports by the end of this year.” Adding further, Major General Al Khaiaili said: “Citizens whose passports have expired, or who wish to be issued with new passports, can submit their applications with the required documents. The e-passports will be issued in record time after processing their information. The e-passport is a document containing an electronic chip with the passport holder’s encrypted biometric data that cannot easily be decoded. It also contains the fingerprints, signature and photo, together with security features and specifications that prevent any fraud attempts. They are also very difficult to duplicate, as data found in the passport contains highly sophisticated security features, compared to standard passports.” Furthermore, he confirmed that the e-passport will be granted to all UAE citizens without exception and their expired passports will be replaced with the e-passports according to their renewal dates, through the nationwide naturalization departments. He added that normal passports expire on 31/12/2016, after which date all UAE citizens will receive e-passports; pointing out that UAE citizens living abroad can refer to the UAE embassies for the renewal and replacement of their old passports. “Citizens whose passports have expired can visit one of the service centers to renew their passports, to avoid any embarrassment when they travel. We have two centres in Abu Dhabi and Dubai Airports that provide emergency passport renewal that are available 24-7 and during holidays for all citizens leaving the country,” he said. Major General Al Khaiaili also confirmed that the UAE passport is particularly important, as it is a symbol of the country and the official document for UAE citizens. “The passport should be kept even if it has expired, to make sure it won’t fall into the hands of anyone who might use it illegally,” he advised. He pointed out that holders of expired or replaced passports that still carry valid visas can retain them, but should guarantee to safeguard these documents and submit them to the General Directorate of Naturalization after the visa expires, or after they have completed the visa transfer procedures to their new passport. He also noted that there are no new fees when issuing the e-passport, as the current fees are the same. “The same documents are required and procedures will be applied for issuing e-passports to replace the old ones. In the case of lost or damaged passports that need to be replaced, a fee of Dh300 will be charged to replace it,” he added. He pointed out that the process of issuing passports through the smart applications is quick to complete through the MoI’s website (www.moi.gov.ae) and the passport is delivered to its owner’s named address. The passport is issued through service centers all over the country within 48 hours, and can be collected from the issuing center. Major General Al Khaiaili called upon citizens to apply for their new e-passports to speed up their procedures, especially if travelling to countries that use e-passports.
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20-05-2016
New e-visa waiver scheme makes travelling easier from UAE to UK New scheme will go live on May 23
A new version of the UK’s electronic visa waiver scheme, EVW II, will go live on Monday, May 23, 2016, making travel to the UK for business and tourism even easier for Emirati passport holders. In early 2014, the UK introduced the EVW scheme, allowing passport holders from the UAE to travel to the UK for a visit of up to six months without having first to obtain a visa. The travellers needed only to fill in an online form at least 48 hours before departure. Tens of thousands of travellers have since benefitted from the scheme, which removed the need to give biometrics, attend a visa application centre or hand in passports in advance of travel. Unlike the first version of EVW, which relied on passengers entering their personal information exactly as it appears on their passport, the new EVW form asks passengers to upload a copy of their passport biographic data page so that details can be checked for accuracy prior to travel. This means that input errors can be picked up, significantly reducing the risk of issues when boarding or entering the UK. EVW II also features a simpler set of questions in both English and Arabic, making it easier for users in the UAE. To cover the costs of developing and running the new system, an administrative fee of £15 per EVW is being introduced, which is significantly lower than the cost of a UK visit visa. Immigration Minister James Brokenshire said, "Since the introduction of the scheme in 2014, tens of thousands of travellers from the United Arab Emirates have benefited from using an electronic visa waiver to come to the UK, which reflects the growing importance of our relationship with the region. The new EVW is quicker and easier to complete, while remaining secure. We know that visitor numbers from UAE are continuing to rise, and we look forward to welcoming more travellers to the UK for business and tourism." Travellers who visit the UK regularly, or whose plans are likely to change at the last minute, may wish to apply for visit visas. The UK offers a range of multi-entry visas, valid for six months, two years, five years or ten years. Anyone wishing to travel to the UK for more than six months, for example to study, settle or work, must still apply for a visa. The UK offers a range of additional services, which allow visitors to obtain their visas more quickly, to keep their passport while they apply, or to receive assistance with the application process.
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19-05-2016
Service of a domestic worker: Saudis have 3 options
RIYADH — Minister of Labor and Social Development Muferrej Al-Haqabani has issued decisions to regulate the domestic labor market by diversifying a range of services. The decisions relate to recruitment companies. They define three types of services recruitment companies can provide: Mediating in the recruitment, offering the services of domestic workers, and the transfer of sponsorship. When offering the services of a domestic worker depending on flexible work hours, the company accommodates the domestic worker during the period of service. The ministry also recently approved a raft of recruitment regulations that allow citizens to benefit from the transfer of the services of domestic workers. According to the regulations, transferring sponsorship depends on a fee agreed between the two parties. The licensed recruitment agency is required to post fees on Musaned portal. Khaled Abalkhail, spokesman of the ministry, said that the recently approved regulations curb the exuberant recruitment fees and provide quality and suitable services for citizens and residents. He said the new rules set for regulating recruitment have instructed the licensed agency to define the service type relating to visas requested for recruiting domestic workers and use the standard form of the ministry. With the new schemes, the recruitment companies should adhere to the fixed cost that people pay in exchange of service. Companies transferring the sponsorship of household workers should also abide by the standard work contract that the ministry approved earlier, Abalkhail stressed.
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18-05-2016
UAE employers must report absconders to police... or get punished Reporting absconding workers to labour office is not enough
Employers who fail to report their absconding workers to the police or immigration authorities will be punished under modified labour laws in the UAE. The ruling was issued by the Supreme Federal Court while hearing a case involving the absconding of a worker and failure by his sponsor to report him to immigration. The SFC found that the employer’s report on his absconding worker to the labour office in his emirate was not enough under the new law. “The court stressed that reporting an absconding worker to the labour office will not exempt the employer from punishment. The employer must also inform immigration authorities or the nearest police station,” the semi-official daily Alittihad said.
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18-05-2016
Over 50,000 outsourcing jobs on offer for women
RIYADH — The Ministry of Labor and Social Development has reported there are more than 50,000 available jobs that will allow women to work from a distance, Al-Madinah newspaper reported on Sunday. Deputy Minister of Labor and Social Development Abdulmunim Al-Shihry said the ministry is working on a program to provide over 50,000 job positions for women seeking a job that allows them to work from the comfort of their home and does not restrict them to an office. “There are over 100 private companies who have outsourcing jobs to offer in various parts of the Kingdom. The ministry also aims to encourage women to take on part-time jobs by giving them incentives,” said Al-Shihry. He added the distance jobs program is part of the feminization program, which encourages more women to be a part of the Saudi labor market. “One of the biggest obstacles to feminizing the private and public sectors is providing a suitable work environment. A suitable environment for women includes appurtenant facilities and services such as a daycare, separate restrooms, a transportation service and security. The Ministry of Labor and Social Development is working with the Ministry of Municipal and Rural Affairs to build the necessary facilities in work places before opening the door for women employment, ” said Al-Shihry. He said working from a distance helps overcome the obstacles in the work environment and encouraged housewives and women from all educational backgrounds to seek distance employment. “The program will be launched in two months. So far around 2,000 women are employed part-time in outsourcing jobs. Their salaries range from SR3,000 to SR9,000. The program will be implemented in cooperation with the Ministry of Civil Service, Ministry of Commerce and Investment and the Saudi Commission of Communication. The Ministry of Labor and Social Development is now working on building the infrastructure of the program,” said Al-Shihry. He also said the program aims to reach out to women living in rural areas or small towns as they have fewer opportunities for employment. “We already have seven centers for distance employment in Qassim, Hail, Jazan, Madinah, Najran and Al-Ahsa. Another center will soon open in Tabuk. We will also launch a portal for the program,” said Al-Shihry.
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18-05-2016
Construction companies violate midday work ban
JEDDAH — Construction and cleaning employees are being forced to work during midday hours despite extreme temperatures, reported Al-Hayat Arabic newspaper after conducting a field survey. Employees said their companies were exploiting the delay in announcing the midday work ban, which usually starts from June 15. A responsible source at the Ministry of Labor and Social Development told Al-Hayat that it was conducting surprise inspection tours to catch violators. “We have taken action against a number of violators,” he told the daily. He said the ban would be effective from June 15 to Sept. 15. Workers are not allowed to work in the sun from 12 noon to 3 p.m. Asked why the ministry was not imposing the ban now that temperatures in some Saudi cities have crossed 40 degree Celsius, he said: “Officially the ban begins on June 15. However, companies can follow the ban considering the weather condition for the safety of workers.” Khaled Al-Fakheri, secretary-general of the National Society for Human Rights, said NSHR informs the ministry about organizations that do not follow the ban. “The presence of a toll free number has reduced the number of such violations,” he said. “Many companies cut salaries if employees refuse to work during midday hours. There are supervisors to check working hours,” one worker said. Temperatures have reached the peak in the Eastern Province during the past two days with Dammam reporting 40 and 43 degrees Celsius on Sunday and Monday.
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17-05-2016
UAE registers highest employment rate in April: Monster Led by healthcare industry, certain sectors are hiring robustly
The UAE exhibited the most positive employment growth among its neighbouring countries in April 2016, with hiring activity growing at 18 per cent compared to the same period a year ago. Sanjay Modi, Managing Director at Monster.com for India, Middle- East, South East Asia and Hong Kong, said looking at the UAE market specifically, certain sectors are still hiring robustly at a time the employment index dropped in the Middle East. He said that the healthcare industry is the biggest generator of employment opportunities. "For the third month in a row, the industry is charting the steepest growth in year-on-year online recruitment activity; up by 45 per cent in April 2016. This is not surprising, since the country is anticipated to require an annual increase of nearly three per cent in the number of hospital beds, demanding for more than 13,800 beds by 2020." "The key driver behind this upward trend is the rising health programmes and improved regulatory frameworks by the UAE government; the country’s liberalisng policies are attracting global cross-border deals, allowing for mergers, acquisition and strategic tie ups between pharmaceutical players and hospitals to develop a world class healthcare infrastructure," he added. Modi said the impressive annual growth of 49 per cent in job opportunities for healthcare professionals also mirrors the UAE’s focus on training and development of this profession. The Ministry of Health and Prevention has recently announced its plans to attract more Emirati men and women to the nursing sector.
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17-05-2016
Dubai Health Authority offers 400 jobs at Careers UAE 2016 Authority has openings in nursing, administration and other medical supporting departments
The Dubai Health Authority (DHA) is offering 400 jobs for Emirati nationals in the fields of nursing, medicine, administrative jobs and medical supporting jobs at Careers UAE 2016. With the objective of raising the numbers of nationals working in the medical field, the DHA is participating at Careers UAE, a platform that provides nationals with an opportunity to meet employers. Through Careers UAE, which is taking place at the Dubai World Trade Centre from May 16-18, the authority aims to recruit fresh graduates and experienced Emiratis in all medical fields, especially nursing, administrative jobs and medical supporting jobs. Emirati visitors seeking to work at DHA can do so by applying at the DHA stand in Careers UAE or online. On spot interviews will also take place at the authority’s stand at the exhibition. Amena Al Suwaidi, Director of Human Recourses at the DHA, said the authority is offering attractive packages for Emiratis that include: competitive salaries, health insurance, plane tickets and nature of work compensation for some professions. "Currently 100 per cent of DHA’s top leadership are Emiratis and Emiratis hold 80 per cent of supervisory positions. Furthermore, 77.4 percent of DHA’s Emirati employees are female and 22.6 per cent are male," according to her.
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13-05-2016
6 Recruitment trends to watch out for in 2016
Today there is an unprecedented need to build a workforce that can support development and cope with evolving labor market needs in a period of profound economic uncertainty. Organizations large and small are stressing the importance of anticipating future skills needs to avoid skills gaps, shortages and mismatches. It is also widely recognized that occupations are evolving as industries undergo a profound restructuring, with some occupations disappearing and becoming obsolete and new ones emerging, demanding opportunities for continuous acquisition of new and competences. In this article, the team at Bayt.com -Middle East’s leading job site, describe the top 6 recruitment trends expected to emerge in Saudi Arabia, and across the Middle East region, in 2016: More career changes Plummeting oil prices and the move towards economic diversification has not only reduced the significance of the oil and gas industry in Saudi Arabia, but it has also affected the job market outlook in the country. Professionals today are looking at other career options. In fact, the Bayt.com ‘Career Aspirations in the Middle East’ survey, released in January 2015, showed that 7 in 10 respondents in the Middle East have set professional goals for themselves, with 26% having set goals for as far as the next 5 years. The most common of those goals was to get a higher salary (54%), followed by finding a new job (53%). And while 64% of respondents felt they deserve to work in a higher-level position, 73% of them said they would go as far as relocate to another country for employment purposes. Increased demand on transferable skills In an era of high employment turnover and mobility, transferable skills have become the arsenal that ensures your employability, increases your professional competitive advantage, and eases your transition into a new role. Surprisingly, the Bayt.com ‘Skills and Hiring Trends in the Middle East‘ poll, January 2015, has revealed that the top three most sought-after skills in 2015 were analytical thinking (18.5%), creativity (14%), and leadership (13.3%). The August 2015 Middle East Job Index survey by Bayt.com has also showed that employers in Saudi Arabia are mostly looking for candidates with good communication skills in English and Arabic (83%), good personality and overall demeanor (50%) and trustworthiness/ honesty (46%). More active online discussions info1 One of the most critical mistakes that job seekers make according to professional respondents who took part in the Bayt.com ‘Skills and Hiring Trends in the MENA’ poll is not having active online conversations. In 2016, job seekers will be offered a myriad of ways to share their views and knowledge, source feedback, and discuss matters that affect their professional lives and growth. Online professional platforms, such as Bayt.com Specialties, enable professionals to get together, ask specific questions and obtain expert opinions and answers, but also endorsements and rankings to truly stand out. Engaging in professional discussions is a great way for employers to know more about a candidate. More jobs in the SME sector According to the August 2015 Middle East Job Index survey by Bayt.com, 75% of employers said they would be hiring in the next 12 months. This will particularly be the case for small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs), with the trend continuing from past waves with most em2ployers in these companies planning to hire more people. Unsurprisingly, the same survey reveals that significantly more respondents in the GCC (63% in Saudi Arabia) believe that their country of residence is more attractive as a job market in comparison to other countries in the region. Increased use of online recruitment According to a Bayt.com poll, 20.2% of employers in the region believe that leading online job sites, like Bayt.com, will be most widely used to source candidates this year. In parallel, 29.3% of respondents working in the HR field maintain that the recruitment of active candidates online will become the number one hiring trend of 2016. With a majority of employers sourcing talent on the internet, job seekers are advised to create searchable online profiles that stand out. Higher training budgets Today, employees in Saudi Arabia are eager to build solid career trajectories and advance their professional development. According to the Bayt.com ‘Career Development in the Middle East’ survey, January 2016, a
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13-05-2016
Online Hiring How top companies in Saudi Arabia are hiring senior talent and how you can too
It is time to change your passwords. Apparently, hundreds of millions of hacked usernames and passwords are being traded in Russia’s criminal underworld a security expert told Reuters recently. And as much as that seems like a plot for a Hollywood movie, it is not. Although much like a script, the events played out in sequence. During the hunt, Cybersecurity firm Hold Security exposed the data breach when it came across a young Russian hacker bragging in an online forum that he had collected and was ready to give away 1.17 billion reThe hunt for senior talent is getting more and more competitive. When it comes to Saudi Arabia, evidence shows that it is increasingly challenging for employers to find candidates with the required skills. According to the Bayt.com Skills Gap in the Middle East survey, May 2016, this difficulty is emphasized when recruiting for senior positions, with 7 in 10 employers claiming they find it difficult to find senior-level candidates for their job vacancies. When looking at the online behavior of senior professionals, we can say that they have become incredibly web savvy and many of them are creating personal websites, online profiles, blogs and accounts on various platforms. As more and more senior talents post examples, tutorials, videos and portfolios of their work on the internet, finding talented individuals for high-level job roles is quickly moving into the mainstream, with online job sites largely increasing the efficiency with which hiring decisions take place. Regional HR surveys by Bayt.com show that 74% of professional respondents in the Middle East believe that online job sites have facilitated the hiring process; 42% of them saying they use general job sites, such as Bayt.com, when searching for a job. recruitment_practices_en1 Here, the experts at Bayt.com, the Middle East’s leading job site, provide some pointers to help you leverage the power of online hiring: • Use a multifaceted approach Few would argue that there are substitutes for online job sites as an integral part of the recruitment arsenal of successful employers, and fewer still would argue that today’s top talent are not overwhelmingly searching for jobs online. Online recruitment today with top pan-regional job sites remains by far the easiest and most effective way to recruit top talent, including senior-level candidates. According to the Bayt.com ‘Recruitment Practices in the Middle East and North Africa’ poll, May 2015, 20% of polled employers say that posting job vacancies on a website accessible to millions of job seekers, such as Bayt.com, is the best way to hire job seekers who are actively looking and applying for jobs online, while 36% of them believe that searching through millions of CVs is the easiest way to headhunt more passive candidates. Respondents in the same Bayt.com poll said that the following would also make hiring easier: having the vacancy highlighted in a highly visible location (16%), the ability to automatically filter out irrelevant candidates (8.7%), the ability to filter candidates (7.9%), and tools to manage the recruitment process online (7.5%). Over a third (34.3%) said that a combination of all of these would ease the hiring process. • Target the right candidate pool Make sure you are fully aware of what the job entails and that you have a clear idea of the kind of candidates you need before narrowing down your search to target the specific pool of candidates. This can be greatly facilitated online, may it be via CV search options, job postings, targeted mailers, or targeted ad banners. The advantage of online hiring techniques is that not only can you cast the net wide in spreading your employer message, but you can also focus in on the best candidates with highly sophisticated tools. Online job fairs, such as the ones pioneered in the Middle East by Bayt.com (better known as vFairs), are another innovative and highly effective way for sourcing top senior talent, and have been extremely popular with job seekers and employers alike since their introduction by Bayt.com in 2008. To learn more about how to get a hold of the candidates with the right set of skills, qualifications and experience, you can get in touch with us at Bayt.com – we’ll be glad to help you. • Keep your branding creative – go Premium According to the Bayt.com ‘Social Recruiting in the Middle East and North Africa’ poll, October 2014, 80% of profes
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12-05-2016
Ministry warns employers who force workers to sign settlements Owners will neither be issued new work permits nor be allowed to open new facilities
The Ministry of Labour will not issue new work permits to companies if there are cases pending against owners who force workers to sign documents stating they received all financial dues. According to an 'Al Khaleej' report, the ministry will also not allow such owners to open new facilities. However, it will renew labour cards that already exist. The move aims to ensure the rights of labourers and help them abide by work contracts signed. The ministry has called on workers to file complaints about employers who force them to sign on financial-receipt documents. [Proof of final settlement mandatory...read more] However, the complaints must be filed within 12 months of the documents being signed. Once they receive a complaint, ministry officials will study the case, hear out the employers' version and initiate appropriate legal action only if an amicable settlement is not found. The Ministry stated that labour cards can be cancelled only if the employer submits documents to prove that all financial dues have been setlled with the respective employee. All dues even if employee dies outside UAE If UAE employees happen to die outside the country, then their families are entitled to receive financial dues including gratuity, according to the Ministry of Labour. In the weekly session, while addressing labour issues, Khalil Khouri, Director of Work Permits, Labour Ministry, said: "If any person were to die outside the UAE, while being legally employed in the country, the financial dues of the deceased as per the employment contract should be handed over to the family." "Similarly, the labour card of the deceased will be cancelled once the death certificate - duly attested by both the embassy of the country where the person died as well as the Ministry of Foreign Affairs - is presented. Alternatively, the labour card will be automatically cancelled after six months as per labour laws," Khouri was quoted by 'Al Khaleej' newspaper. Answering a labour transfer query, Khouri said employees can be transferred to another facility, if the company they were working for is closed. But in such cases, the ministry should be notified of the closure of the company within two months. Following which, the Inspection Department will study the complaint and, if need be, punishment procedures would be initiated against the owner. End-of-service benefits… time to set up a gratuity fund in UAE A legal expert has suggested that the UAE should set up a Gratuity Fund to meet the end-of-service benefits requirements in the country. He also suggested that gratuity payments should be based on gross pay or at least a set minimum percentage of total remuneration (such as 75 per cent). Shoeb Saher, Senior Associate with Habib Al Mulla & Company, said there are a number of things that need to be considered by the UAE lawmakers to address areas in which the current Labour Law may not be in keeping with the increasingly sophisticated demands of both employers and employees. He recommended that employers should be obliged by law to keep gratuity funds in a separate account that is independently administrated for the benefit of the employees. Payments into this fund should be made by the employer annually (similar to pension schemes available in other jurisdictions). These funds could be invested in government-backed securities or fixed deposit accounts with local banks, both low-risk options with immediate and ongoing benefits for the local economy. “There are a number of benefits in making such changes to the law,” says Saher. “If the calculation of end-of-service gratuity was more clearly defined in the labour law, this would create more certainty amongst both employers and employees. It would also reduce the amount of litigation in this area, reducing the judicial workload for routine matters.” If separate gratuity funds were established, this money would be protected in the event that the employer runs into financial difficulty or becomes insolvent. The financial sector in the UAE would also receive a boost due to the extra liquidity generated by such funds, Saher pointed out. Areas of concern The law expert said there are concerns about the current legislation governing the payment of termination gratuity. He listed them as follows: In cases where the employer is in financial difficulties i.e. they become insolvent, the chances of the employee ever recovering their end-of-servic
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12-05-2016
UAE Labor Law: After leaving job, 30 days to vacate staff accommodation Housing allowance is not part of the basic wage, must be agreed separately: Lawyer
The UAE Ministry of Human Resources and Emiratisation has informed employees living in accommodation provided by their employers to vacate it within 30 days after their service is finished. “Labor Law states that an employee must evacuate his residence provided by his employer after ending his service within 30 days,” according to the Ministry. An HR executive with a top UAE company, however, told Emirates 24|7 that employees can be given grace period in certain cases. “One of our long-time employees is moving back to his home country and requested for an extension in company accommodation. We did give him a 15-day grace period to allow him to complete all his formalities. Though the Labor Law specifies the regulations, the extension to be given depends on the relationship between the employer and employee,” the executive added. In April 2016, Emirates 24|7 reported that housing allowance are not part of the basic wage and must be agreed upon separately. The UAE Labor Law does differentiate between the definitions of basic wage and total wage. The former is an employee’s wage excluding all allowances of whatever nature and is specified in the labour contract as such, while total wage is an employee’s wage inclusive of all allowances provided such as accommodation and travel allowances. “Hence, according to UAE Labor Law, allowances such as flights, housing, transportation and telephone are not part of the basic wage and must be agreed upon separately,” Ahmed Odeh, Legal Consultant, MIO Law Firm, had told this website. Housing allowance can be distributed in one of the two following ways: Cash/Cheque in advance and employer undertaking to secure housing on behalf of the employee.
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12-05-2016
Firms told to follow new rules on hiring workers
RIYADH — Recruitment offices and companies have to abide by new legal forms which have replaced employment contracts in accordance with amended regulations, spokesman of the Ministry of Labor and Social Development Khaled Bin Abdulaziz Abalkhail said in a statement here on Wednesday. He said the ministry is keen on protecting the contractual relationship by providing quality services that ensure enough time for domestic workers to arrive in the Kingdom and reduce recruitment cost. Abalkhail said the ministry inspects manpower suppliers to ensure the implementation of recruitment rules. Punitive action is taken against those who violate the labor and residency regulations, he added. The spokesman emphasized that the ministry strives to maintain the rights of customers and serve the interests of stakeholders. Saudi citizens or residents can file a complaint via the e-portal (musaned@mol.gov.sa) or the customer service no. 19911.
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12-05-2016
Indonesians opt for recruitment companies’ sponsorship
JEDDAH — Indonesian domestic workers are interested in coming to the Kingdom under the sponsorship of recruitment offices instead of Saudi families, Saudi Consul in Jakarta Turki Al-Waeli was quoted as saying in Makkah Arabic daily on Wednesday. He said the Indonesian Workers Union took this decision after studying the new regulations of the Saudi Ministry of Labor and Social Development which ensure increased benefits, better facilities and higher bank guarantees for workers under the sponsorship of recruitment offices. The Saudi Ministry of Labor and Social Development announced on Monday that is willing to to again start the recruitment of domestic workers from Indonesia. The Indonesian Workers Union is apprehensive about opening the door for family sponsorship, said Al-Waeli. He said the demand for Indonesian domestic workers in the Kingdom is high. Last year, 8,500 work visas were issued for Indonesian workers in less than eight months. This year, 1,500 visas have already been issued for Indonesian workers, said Al-Waeli, adding that the number is expected to increase by 40 percent. The Ministry of Labor and Social Development has increased the benefits and facilitated the hiring process under the sponsorship of recruitment companies by ensuring proper accommodation, increased bank insurance, etc. Workers hired under the sponsorship of recruitment companies are not obliged to sleep in the house of Saudi families as they will have their own accommodation provided by the Ministry of Labor and Social Development. Recruitment offices can hire a minimum of 50 and a maximum of 200 workers, said Al-Waeli. The recruitment fee for this type of worker is SR5,000. The recruitment office must have a bank guarantee of SR750,000. Meanwhile, answering a Saudi Gazette question whether or not Indonesia will allow its domestic workers to come to Saudi Arabia, Dede Achman Rifai, head of the Consulate Affairs at the Indonesian consulate, replied: “No” without providing any further details. However, Yahya Al-Mugbil, head of the recruitment offices at the Jeddah Chamber of Commerce and Industry, said that the approval of the ministerial decision is a positive move Last May, Indonesia decided to ban its citizens from working as domestic helpers in 21 countries. Indonesian President Joko Widodo foreshadowed the move in February 2015 by announcing that he wanted to put an end to the export of female workers.
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10-05-2016
New Labour Law to come up for review soon
Muscat - A new Labour Law is being worked on and will be forwarded by the Ministry of Manpower for a review by Majlis A’Shura ‘soon’. A senior Shura member said it will seek to increase labour rights while balancing business interests. “It’s not only for the employee, but also business owners,” Mohammed al Busaidi, the Bausher representative in the Majlia A'Shura told the media. Busaidi said he expects to see the new law “very soon”. The Oman Chamber of Commerce and Industry (OCCI) on Monday held a workshop to better educate company representatives on the current Labour Law. Sheikh Mohammed al Ansi, chairman of OCCI's human resource and labour market committee, said the workshop was a chance to educate human resource managers about the current law before the new one is issued. “When your people, your staff are informed about the law, and each one knows what he has to take or give, there will more stability in the organization,” he said.
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10-05-2016
MINISTRY WARNS AGINST ADS ON DOMESTIC LABOR
JEDDAH: The Labor and Social Development Ministry has uncovered 84 advertisements promoting the illegal trade in housemaids, a local publication reported on Monday. Mohammed Al-Faleh, assistant deputy minister for inspection and development of the work environment, said the people behind these advertisements are considered criminals. The advertisements have been studied and passed onto the Bureau of Investigation and Public Prosecution, he said. Suspects arrested would be charged with human trafficking and violating the country’s labor and residence regulations. Al-Faleh said that the advertisements offer maids and drivers, including the processing of visas for a fee. He said citizens and residents must contact authorized recruitment offices and companies listed on the Musaned portal to hire workers. Customers can inquire or file a complaint on 19911 or through the Ministry of Interior’s customer service number 989.
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09-05-2016
New UAE Labour Law: Job offer letters will be legally binding Any offer letter given to foreign worker will be legally binding once accepted and signed by both parties
Consider it a new year’s bonus. From January 1, 2016, the UAE will implement sweeping reforms to the existing Labour Law, plugging loopholes that will now make employees even more content and secure in their workplace. The primary changes to be enforced next year, as outlined by Minister of Labour, Saqr Ghobash Saeed Ghobash, pertain to employment contracts for workers hired from abroad, termination of job contracts, and issuance of new labour permits to resident workers. As per new regulations, any offer letter made to a foreign worker will become legally binding once accepted and signed by both parties. The resolution issued by the Minister of Labour mandates that employers will be required to disclose to the Ministry the terms of the offer made to a foreign worker. The offer letters will be required to be detailed, and must contain a comprehensive description of the rights and duties of the employee, as well as outline the terms and conditions of employment. The Ministry also requires that the employer ensures that the workers have seen the offer and agreed to its terms in a language that they understand. This means that there cannot be significant changes between the offer letter and the terms of the final employment contract between a foreign workers and their employer, doing away with the possibility of any confusion or wrong-doing. To enforce this resolution, the Ministry stipulates that the employee’s work permit at the Ministry of Labour is based on the offer letter that will be stored in the Ministry’s database. The offer letter to a foreign worker will, therefore, become a legal contract, and the employer will not be allowed to alter or replace any of its provisions unless such changes have the consent of both the parties (the employer and the employee), and that any such changes do not prejudice the right of the worker and are not against the law. The same holds true for a worker within the UAE, and the worker must sign and agree to the terms of the offer letter before the employer can seek the Ministry’s preliminary approval for his employment. The UAE intends to enforce a new labour law at the start of 2016 to better regulate the relationship between employers and workers and curb violations to ensure both parties will get their rights. The new law includes three main rules governing labour contracts for workers from abroad, terminating contracts between the employers and workers and the issuance of a new work permit to a resident worker. “These rules will take the labour market to a new stage based on a strong and balanced relationship between all parties and on agreement and transparency in contracting to guarantee the rights of all parties,” Labour Minister Saqr Gobash said.
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09-05-2016
‘UAE continues to protect workers' rights’ Through effective policies
Humaid bin Demas Al Suwaidi, Assistant Undersecretary for Labour Affairs at the Ministry of Human Resources and Emiratisation, on Friday stressed that the UAE continues to protect workers' rights through effective policies and promote transparency in the employer/worker contractual relationship. He was speaking at the meeting of the board of directors of the International Labour Organisation in Geneva. The official demanded the ILO adopt practices and initiatives that reflect the partnerships between labour-exporting and labour recipient countries. The establishment of a transparent contractual relationship between these countries is a collective responsibility, he said. "Employment is a complicated cross-border process and involves several responsibilities and parties such as employment agencies, brokers and government authorities. This requires labour exporting and labour recipient countries to play integral roles to ensure that the process is transparent," Al Suwaidi said. He also called upon the international organisation to move from identifying challenges facing employment to developing practical solutions and initiatives to establish just and transparent contractual relations. Al Suwaidi gave a presentation about the new labour rules which came into effect in the UAE at the beginning of this year. The rules are aimed to forge a stronger relationship between employers and workers and enhance the labour market across the country by ensuring transparency and encouraging more flexible labour mobility for workers. In September 2015, the then Ministry of Labour (renamed Ministry of Human Resources and Emiratisation) issued Ministerial Decrees 764, 765 and 766 to pave way for improved labour relations by securing more stable practices, governed by regulations that protect workers who are legally sponsored to enter the UAE. The new rules will also bring greater transparency, clarity and tighter monitoring of labour contract conditions and ensure that both employer and employee enter into fully voluntary relationships.
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09-05-2016
New UAE Labour Law: No employee consent, no visa Employee consent must for UAE work permit
A senior official at the UAE’s Ministry of Human Resources and Emiratisation has stated the ministry will not approve any request to obtain a new work permit without a worker’s consent to the job offer. Besides this, the clauses in the work permit must match the clauses of the labour contract that the worker signs upon arrival to the country to obtain a work permit. The new law, which came into force in January this year, includes three main rules governing labour contracts for workers from abroad, terminating contracts between the employers and workers and the issuance of a new work permit to a resident worker. Humaid bin Deemas Al Suwaidi, Assistant Undersecretary for Labour Affairs, noted that professionals and skilled workers must sign the contract while those applying for partially skilled or unskilled workers must have the employee’s thumbprint on the job offer letters. “All permits are based on a transparent relation between employers and workers, following the newly launched decrees by Saqr Ghobash, Minister of Human Resources and Emiratisation earlier this year,” said Al Suwaidi. Employers must provide the job offer and conditions containing a comprehensive description of rights and duties between both parties, he highlighted. The Ministry, he said, has approved 11 languages in which job offers, labour contracts and other conditions may be printed, and that must be handed to workers aside from Arabic and English so that there are no contradictions. “New permits issuance approval shall be granted following the confirmation of the establishment’s commitment towards labour laws, decisions and requirements stipulated in terms of applying for ‘quota’. “The establishment must print job offers that contain a comprehensive description of labour rights and obligations between both parties through Tas’heel service centres. If the establishment was registered in the ministry’s system, then hand in the offers to workers for signature from first, second and third level professions or otherwise require a thumbprint for those occupying fourth and fifth levels,” Al Suwaidi explained. The Ministry of Human Resources and Emiratisation announced yesterday that it has issued more than 252,000 new work permits since the beginning of the current year. According to the employment classification adopted by the Ministry, first category of employment includes specialised occupations, which require a high degree of scientific, technical, and executive skills and a university degree at a minimum. Second category employment includes technical occupations that require the availability of “cognitive, scientific and technical” abilities; practical and supervisory skills with a 2-3 years degree from an institute post high-school. The third category of employment requires practical and technical skills that cover the entire scope of the job, and a high-school degree. The fourth category of employment includes occupations that require the availability of practical and technical skills that cover part of the job and in this category, individuals need to be prepared and trained for two years on average. The fifth category of employment is considered a limited skills category, and includes occupations that require the availability of practical and technical skills related to a small part of the job and can be acquired during training in less than a year. All these rules also apply to workers residing in the country. A signature/thumbprint on the job offer letter is required prior to obtaining a new work permit.
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09-05-2016
UAE labour protection for expats 8-hour shifts, accommodation, overtime rules clarified
The UAE provides an attractive environment for foreign workers of 200 different nationalities, adopting comprehensive strategies to protect their rights and improve both their working and living conditions. In this context, and as part of its commitment to improve the standards of workers' accommodation in line with international standards, the UAE has approved the Manual of the General Criteria for Workers' Accommodation. Accommodation for workers The decision emphasises employers' responsibilities to provide workers with accommodation commensurate with international labour standards. Each facility operating in the country has to upgrade its workers' accommodation conditions to comply with these standards. In implementation of this decision, Abu Dhabi has invested about Dh20bn ($5.4bn) in 23 workers "cities" which are capable of providing accommodation for 385,000 workers. These complexes have been built in line with the new manual which stipulates that all accommodation must include its own medical clinic equipped with full services, parking, yards, walkways, mini-market, green spaces and playgrounds. Freedom of movement in labour market Other innovations in the efforts to protect workers' rights are aimed at introducing greater flexibility and freedom of movement in the labour market, and establishing a balanced contractual relationship between employer and worker. At the same time, access to effective legal remedies in the event of a labour dispute have been vastly improved. In particular, the Ministry of Labour (MoL) has set up a collective labour disputes committee, with representatives of workers and employers in each labour office. The committees must issue a decision on a dispute within two weeks of referral. Their decisions can be challenged before an appeal court within 30 days of issuance. According to the UAE Minister of Labour, Saqr Ghobash of more than four million people employed in the private sector, only 20,000 are Emirati, and 65 per cent of those work in banking. Working hours The mandatory midday break for labourers who work in the sun during the summer months began on 15th June, 2013, for the ninth consecutive year. The three-month midday break rule will be strictly enforced until 15th September, 2013. Companies will have to give a two-and-a-half hour break from 12.30pm to 3pm for all labourers who work in the open air, such as on construction sites. The Ministerial decision also states that daily working hours must not exceed eight hours per day or night shift, and that overtime should be paid to those working additional hoursin a 24-hour period, as per Federal Law No. 08 of 1980. Ministry inspectors hold workshops before and during the ban period to create awareness of the rules, and also make regular visits to ensure compliance by both the employers and workers. The Ministry of Labour orders all employers to put up signs in Arabic and other languages about the banned hours, while in the case of daily exemptions (see below), employers must ensure there is enough cold water for all workers. Work which has to continue non-stop for technical reasons is exempt from the ban, but employers are still required to provide facilities to cater for the health and safety of workers; including access to first aid supplies and cold water. Companies which violate the midday summer break will face penalties which include having the classification of their firms downgraded by the Ministry, and a fine of Dh15,000 for each violation. Wage Protection System In yet another significant stride in this regard, the MoL has launched the Wages Protection System (WPS) to safeguard payment of workers' wages via transfers through selected financial institutions. These transfers will be regulated by the government. Furthermore, foreign workers are guaranteed the right to send their savings to their home nation and in 2012, approximately Dh70.46 billion was remitted overseas for the benefit of workers’ families. The UAE MoL has introduced a comprehensive range of protection measures covering both pre- and post-departure needs of workers, beginning in their country of origin (for instance, protecting workers from illegal recruiters and setting up a contract validation system), continuing after their arrival in the country (through measures like curbing abuse and non-payment of wages), and on their return and re-integration to their home country. The UAE Lab
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09-05-2016
Workers Rights: UAE gets tough with dishonest recruiters, employers All workers who come to UAE are recruited and employed equitably, safe, and free to advance:
The Ministry of Human Resources and Emiratisation has published the first annual report entitled 'Workers Welfare Report 2015,' highlighting the labour rights in the UAE. The 2015 report focuses on measures to ensure that all workers that come to the UAE "are recruited and employed equitably, safe in their place of work, and free to advance professionally and personally." The publication of this report is part of a drive to increase transparency about labour issues, improve data reporting and ensure that discussion about the transnational labour mobility and economic development is frank and fair. In a forward to the 2015 Report, Saqr Ghobash, Minister of Human Resources and Emiratisation, said: "The UAE’s workforce is our greatest asset: the driver for growth that enables economic diversification and secures the future for tomorrow’s generation." "The Ministry of Human Resources and Emiratisation is committed to ensuring our workforce is protected and its dynamism is harnessed for the good of all. Therefore, the ministry has launched a series of initiatives and resolutions to promote workers' welfare in the country, most notably, Standardising labour contracts in order to promote clarity and transparency for workers and employers," he added. He further elaborated that the ministry launched new laws that "Enable workers to move freely between employers, as well as evaluating and reviewing every aspect of working in the Emirates from recruitment to housing and making significant reforms designed to ensure all workers are treated respectfully at all times, and able to report instances of maltreatment easily." The minister said that MOHRE has appointed 63 legal professionals to help resolve labour disputes, and trained 100 members of staff to facilitate the process of dispute resolution. The ministry has also implemented a new, dynamic smart inspection system to enable the inspectors focus their efforts on higher risk business establishments. Exponential growth The report begins by describing the UAE’s exponential growth in recent decades as a global centre of commerce and tourism which has been achieved thanks to the hard work of millions of people from all over the world. People from all corners of the planet travel to UAE to contribute to its growth, putting their skills to use to build and operate the institutions and infrastructure that are now the lifeblood of the national economy. "The UAE is proud to host such a diverse, eclectic population. Proud, too, that at a time of economic slowdown in many parts of the world, the UAE continued to create jobs and offer opportunities for people to better themselves, and better the prospects of their families and home nations, which directly benefits some of the world’s poorest communities, enabling access to health and education, created sustainable societies, and raised standards of living in recipient countries". The report goes on to say that UAE remains a young country undergoing dramatic change and huge economic growth. That brings significant challenges in terms of the management of the labour market. It is vital, however, that all workers in the UAE enjoy employment protections that conform to the highest standards of international best practice and law, which is why the UAE Ministry of Human Resources and Emiratisation is at the forefront of driving reform to protect workers. Only by upholding the reputation of the nation as an equitable provider of employment and continue attracting the brightest and most skilled workers from around the world. The protection of workers is fundamental to the ongoing work of the Ministry of Human Resource and Emiratisation, the report reads. Over the course of 2015, the Ministry undertook significant steps to ensure worker protection, including reviewing legislation and regulatory oversight, improving dispute resolution systems and increasing transparency. "We can’t deny that many non-national workers have faced in the past many malpractices by recruitment agents. Consequently, the Ministry of Human Resources and Emiratisation has been cooperating with countries of origin to improve practices within the recruitment industry as a priority issue." The ministry continues to closely monitor the practices of recruitment companies and take immediate actions when violations take place. In 2015 the Ministry suspended the licences of recruitment agencies that violated recruitment pract
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09-05-2016
UAE Labour Law: Do Ramadan timings also apply to non-fasting employees? UAE Labour Law does not differentiate among fasting, non-fasting staff, but regulations differ in Dubai’s financial free zone
During the month of Ramadan, employees in the UAE are entitled to work reduced office hours, with an average two hours reduced from the daily job schedule, but there may be exceptions. While the UAE Labour Law does not differentiate between fasting and non-fasting employees, the regulations are different within Dubai’s financial free zone. The UAE Labour Law provides that working hours should be reduced by two hours per day during Ramadan, and does not differentiate between fasting and non-fasting employees. So, the reduced work-hours rule is applicable to all Muslim and non-Muslim employees and irrespective of whether they are fasting or not. Within the DIFC, however, only fasting employees’ working hours are reduced by two hours. Non-fasting employees may be required by their employers to work regular hours. As per Article 65 of the UAE Labour Law, the maximum number of ordinary working hours for adult workers shall be eight hours per day, or 48 hours per week. The number of hours may be increased to nine hours per day for people employed in trade, hotels, cafeterias, security and other jobs. Pay-cut for reduced working days? According to the UAE Labour Law, ordinary working hours shall be reduced by two hours during Ramadan; so this means that employees should only work 6 hours per day (as the statutory maximum working hours are 8 hours per day). This, however, does not mean that employees should take a pay cut for the reduced hours. Compensate for reduced hours by working from home? Employers cannot ask their employees to work extra hours from home, as this will also be counted towards the employee’s total hours. Exceptions? There are certain exceptions that both employers and employees need to be aware of. The law for non-fasting employees in the DIFC also varies. If a company does ask their employees to work their regular hours during Ramadan, they should compensate the staff accordingly as these hours will be considered overtime. The authorities do conduct checks from time to time to ensure that companies are compliant with the Labour Law and employees are working Ramadan hours. If a company is found in breach of the Labour Law, the authorities have the discretion to penalise such a company. The penalty is at the discretion of the authorities and may be imposed on a case-by-case basis. A ministerial circular on the reduction of work hours this Ramadan is awaited.
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07-05-2016
UAE and India: A century of strong relationship Ties poised for further growth
he UAE's political, economic and cultural links with India, which date back to more than a century ago, are matured and multi-dimensional. India needs the UAE for its fast growing energy needs and an estimated 2.5 million Indians live in the emirates, which is also a key investment market for India. In turn, the UAE exports a large part of its oil to India, which is increasingly becoming a key market for UAE products, tourists and investments. Bilateral trade has been steadily growing over the years and people-to-people contacts are constantly on the increase. Tourists from both sides are visiting for leisure and pleasure, and more and more UAE nationals are availing of healthcare and tourism facilities in India. Close bonds between the Indian community and the nationals can be judged from the fact that the Indian community is the largest expatriate community in the UAE. “Strong bonds of friendship between the UAE and India are poised to be further diversified and strengthened in months and years to come,” the former Indian Ambassador to the UAE Talmiz Ahmed has said. “India-UAE relations are on the upswing. The two countries share bonds of cultural affinity and have strong commercial and cultural linkages. Our expanding ties cover the full range of economic, technical, social and cultural fields that are mutually beneficial for both peoples. Our relations are not determined by trade and economic aspects alone. Indians were present in the UAE long before oil was discovered and have played a vital role in the development of the country.” Relations between the UAE and India were given a fresh push by last year’s visit to the emirates by Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi Diplomats said Modi’s visit to the UAE came at a turbulent time for West Asia while the GCC countries themselves are stable. India’s interests in the GCC countries are intimately linked with its energy security, trade, employment for Indians, and remittances, they said. According to official data, the UAE hosts more than 2.5 million Indians, the bulk of whom are blue-collar workers. The stability of their jobs contributes to the welfare of their families back home. Moreover, the UAE has emerged as India’s second-largest trading partner and by virtue of a sizeable India diaspora an important source of remittances. Given the economic and human security interests, the stability and security of the UAE and the other GCC countries is crucial for India. Another important objective is the continuing fight against terrorism and allied criminal activities like money laundering. Both aspects were mentioned by the UAE and India in their joint statement, which denounced and opposed terrorism in all forms and manifestations. The statement called on all states to reject and abandon the use of terrorism against other countries, no matter where and by whom it is committed, dismantle terrorism infrastructure where it exists, and bring perpetrators of terrorism to justice. In his speech, Modi emphasised this point and also announced that bilateral relations with the UAE would be upgraded to a comprehensive strategic partnership. The joint statement also lay out numerous platforms for cooperation in countering radicalism, misuse of religion to incite hatred, and perpetuating and justifying terrorism for political motives. For the first time, bilateral cooperation will extend to counter-terrorism operations, intelligence sharing and capacity building. In a recent newspaper article, Shashwat Tiwari, a Strategic Affairs Researcher at Oval Observer Foundation, New Delhi, said that the agreement to establish a dialogue between the two National Security Advisers and the respective National Security Councils and other security cooperation mechanisms underline the growing security relationship between the UAE and India. “This cooperation will encompass cyber security, maritime security, inter-operability, and collaboration for mitigating humanitarian and natural disasters in conflict zones. The two countries have also agreed to conduct joint defense exercises and enter into joint ventures for the manufacture of defense equipment,” he said. “India’s energy and economic security is intertwined with the GCC. It is, therefore, logical that in the security domain, India should boost cooperation with the UAE.” He said that this would be a new and significant initiative as the US, the primary secu
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07-05-2016
Arab human rights defender commends PAM
KUWAIT: Deputy Chairman of the Arab League human rights committee Dr Abdulmajid Zaalani said the Kuwaiti center for sheltering foreign workers is a pioneering center in the region in providing basic services for the expatriates and solving their problems. “The center, an affiliate of the Public Authority for Manpower (PAM), provides a humanitarian treatment, including dwelling and healthcare, for the expatriates, males and females, who lost their livelihoods and enables them to solve their legal problems,” he said. Zaalani, now on a visit to Kuwait, made the press remarks after inspecting the center along with other members of the committee known also as “the charter committee.” “The delegation took note of the existence of places of worship at the center which signals the country’s respect for different faiths of the expatriates and keenness on helping them to coexist with each other,” he said. The delegation was briefed on the role of the authority in caring for the expatriates and solving their problems in coordination with the competent ministries such as the ministries of justice, interior and foreign affairs. “We have also met representative of civil society institutions advocating for human rights protection and discussed with senior officials of the Ministry of Interior the legitimate rights of prisoners,” he added. Meanwhile, PAM Director General Abdullah Al-Motawtah welcomed the visit of the delegation and reaffirmed keenness on full cooperation with the Arab League committee out of belief in its important role. He added that the center provides the expatriates with medical, psychological and livelihood services until they are able to integrate with the community or leave for home in coordination with their respective embassies. Founded four years ago, the center receives the expatriate workers who are willing to live there until their work or residency problems are solved. — KUNA
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07-05-2016
A dream come true for many expats Finally we can call Saudi Arabia our home, say long-time residents
Expatriates living in the Kingdom rejoiced over the new residency plan announced by Deputy Crown Prince Muhammad Bin Salman, second deputy premier and minister of defense, last week. The proposal, similar to the US Green Card program, states that Saudi Arabia is planning to give permanent residency to foreign workers, particularly Arabs and Muslims, within five years. Many expats who spoke to Saudi Gazette cheered the deputy crown prince and said the move was “heroic” as well as “groundbreaking” as they had never expected it to materialize. Online reactions on Facebook and Twitter were eager for the plan to be put in action. Those celebrating the move were emotional and appreciative while others admitted expats would be able to contribute more to the economy. The plan could generate $10 billion, with another $10 billion expected to be raised from the fees imposed for exceeding foreign worker quotas. Expatriates would also be able to avail of the benefits and services being enjoyed by Saudis, including medical and banking facilities. “It is a huge deal for us. Some of us have been living here for generations and this was truly a cherished dream of our parents and grandparents. To be able to live and die in the country they devoted their entire life to is not a small thing for them. I love and respect the rulers for understanding and showing compassion toward those of us who have devoted our lives and efforts to the nation. We take pride in being a part of the Kingdom and now for the first time we feel they too do so,” said Mohammad Ali, a 48-year-old Filipino technician living in Jeddah. Many feel the move bridges the gap between the locals and expatriates. “You know it also wipes away, if not completely, the notion that expats are treated like third world citizens. It’s always been an issue of locals looking down upon us. But now that Deputy Crown Prince Muhammad Bin Salman announced the residency plan, it really makes you feel like they value you too. They want us here. And maybe it’s time to get over the negative feelings and let go off. As I am sure Saudis who live abroad and have dual passports seek this right from countries they live in and are lucky enough to get it. Whereas in the Kingdom, we didn’t even feel like we belonged here. Now with this move, it is truly a matter of acknowledging us and welcoming expats to live with equality. I am really happy,” said Mirza Baig, a 39-year-old Pakistani sales manager living in Riyadh. For those expatriates living in the Kingdom in special circumstances, like widows, orphans or single women, the Green Card system is one that holds a strong promise and gives them hope. “This is the best news I have heard. Period. I have always worried about what is being passed on to me by generations. My father and ancestors had their businesses here, which now I am helping run, but you know they never got a chance to stay here permanently. There is always an issue or hindrance when it comes to legal standpoints; you cannot permanently live here. And that was the truth. You need a valid iqama or for my mother, a widow, she needed a mahram (legal male guardian). We really suffered because of such conditions. After I heard the announcement by Deputy Crown Prince Muhammad Bin Salman, I was so relieved. And thank you Saudi Arabia for being compassionate as an Islamic country, that is helping the community by paying attention to everyone’s needs as we do in our religion,” said Ali Hassan, a 30-year-old Indian consultant in Dammam. As for those who have been born and raised in the Kingdom, the issue of lost identity now looks less troublesome as they are able to prepare a long term plan for themselves. “I was born here, I am 45 years old and have lived nowhere else. In fact my children too were born here and I plan to raise them here. I choose this for our family, firstly because this is our country, the only place we know as home, and secondly because of its proximity to the holy mosques. As Muslims, this is our home. I don’t have words to express my happiness and gratitude to the rulers of this country who are planning this for us,” Abdul Rahman, an Indian expatriate living in Jeddah, told Saudi Gazette. Since the proposal is part of reforms that will help the Saudi economy to move away from oil based revenue, the Green Card system can benefit the economy by pumping more than $10 billion a year, hopefully with a multiplier effect
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06-05-2016
Visa termination of employees who extend their leaves abroad
KUWAIT: The Manpower Public Authority is studying the possibility of allowing employers to lodge complains against employees who extend their leaves abroad, which ultimately could lead to having the worker’s visa canceled. Under the current law, a residency visa is automatically canceled if its holder stays outside Kuwait for six months or more. Under the proposed plan, an employer would lodge a complaint against a worker who overstays his designated annual leave period outside Kuwait without valid excuse. If the worker is found to be ‘absconder,’ he or she would have their visa terminated, according to sources.
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06-05-2016
3-pronged Saudization campaign planned
RIYADH — Minister of Labor Mofrej Al-Haqbani said that the ministry and other related government agencies have started implementing the Kingdom’s Vision 2030 with a focus on a vigorous and multifaceted Saudization drive. “Our thrust will be to widen the initiative to help young Saudis take up challenging careers with the help of intensive training programs,” he said while opening a workshop on “Future of technical and vocational training in the light of the National Transformation Program” in Riyadh on Tuesday. Al-Haqbani said the ministry started implementing the Vision 2030 together with the Human Resources Development Fund (HADAF), Technical and Vocational Training Corporation (TVTC), and the General Organization of Social Insurance (GOSI). Under the Vision 2030, the working mechanism for the Saudization drive would be focused on three vital areas. First, Sectoral planning under which the ministry will work in coordination with the concerned agencies in framing Saudization plan for each trade in the private sector. This will be followed by providing training aimed at gradual replacement of foreign workers in high-skilled and semi-skilled jobs by Saudis in the private sector. Second, special Saudization programs will be implemented in the designed areas in each province. Third, total Saudization will be implemented in some trades. The decision to implement total Saudization in the sale and maintenance of mobile phone sector is an example for this, he said.
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05-05-2016
Oman to cut benefits for state employees: report Employees to lose health care, life, travel and car insurance as well as bonuses, loans and allowances for school fees, housing and mobile phones
Dubai: Oman is cutting benefits for employees of state agencies as part of an austerity drive designed to curb a big budget deficit caused by low oil prices, Omani media reported on Sunday. The cuts were communicated in a circular to the agencies from Financial Affairs Minister Darwish Al Balushi, according to Khalid Al Busaidi, a public relations officer at the ministry. Al Busaidi and other officials could not be reached for comment. Employees of the agencies will lose benefits including health insurance, life insurance, travel insurance and car insurance, as well as bonuses, loans and allowances for school fees, housing and mobile phones. “This decision does not affect ministries as such privileges do not exist in the ministries,” Al Busaidi was quoted as saying. The official did not say how much money the government expects to save. The decision covers well over a dozen agencies including authorities for the electricity and telecommunications industries, the Public Authority for Civil Aviation and the Capital Market Authority. Oman is imposing a string of austerity measures after it posted a budget deficit of about 4.5 billion rials ($11.7 billion) last year. Gasoline and diesel price subsidies have been cut, and reductions for electricity and liquid petroleum gas are on the drawing board.
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04-05-2016
Expat contract oil workers end strike
KUWAIT: More than 1,200 contract oil workers, all expats, who downed tools and stopped work Monday over unpaid allowances ended the strike yesterday. The men all work on a KOC project site in Rawdatain, northern Kuwait. The Ministry of Labor’s Public Authority for Manpower convinced the workers to return to work after the company agreed to pay them their dues. Industrial action including strikes and work stoppages by expatriates are illegal in Kuwait. Abdullah Al-Mutawteh, Deputy General Manager for Manpower Protection, stated yesterday that the authority exerted great efforts to make the laborers end their strike. “The evaluation and follow up inspector of the work relations department Salem Al- Ajmi, the head of the collective conflicts department Mohammed Al-Azmi, and head of the conflicts department in Jahra Radaan Al-Hajiri went to the location this morning [Tuesday] to resolve the conflict peacefully,” he noted. “The company employing these workers promised to agree to all demands of the workers. The authority will follow up this case to make sure that the company fulfills its promises in order to protect the rights of the workers, and on the other hand organize the labor market,” added Mutawteh.
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04-05-2016
UAE employees' wish list: Pay and benefits; Is your boss listening? New survey shows what UAE employees look for while choosing a job
All employees have their own wish list of things they desire from their bosses and good employers should be willing to listen to their staff to avoid disconnect, which can lead to friction between the two parties. Emiratis in the country are no different and they have their preferences, which are most likely to prompt them to join or leave an organisation. According to a new UAE survey, Linking Emiratisation to Employee Engagement, released by human resources consultancy Mercer, there are several employment priorities among nationals and the challenges that come along. The survey shows clear evidence of a gap between what Emirati employees look for in work … and what employers think is important. Further, the findings suggest that Emiratis have different preferences when they are looking to join an organization or wanting to leave. “We were driven by the need to understand how the thinking behind Emiratisation and the activity in the Emirati workforce has evolved over the past decade. While the bulk of the current Emirati workforce is still in the public sector, we need to know what the private sector can do to attract and keep Emirati talent,” says survey project leader and spokesman, Saqr Ahmed Al Maazmi. What do UAE employees look for while choosing a job? The survey results show young Emiratis look for pay and benefits, company reputation, the opportunity for learning and even the location of the job over some of the more traditional approaches favoured by HR. The findings reinforce the message that today’s Emirati job-seekers and jobholders are better equipped to make more informed choices. “Emiratis want to be paid-well, motivated to learn and grow in a stimulating work environment. Furthermore, those already in a job with the right skills and experience now know they are a hot commodity and they are prepared to move if something better comes along.” Where do jobseekers go most? The survey reveals most Emirati men pursued careers in engineering and law, while women favour media and education. Business administration was the single most prevalent course of study among both genders. Interestingly, among the more than 400 students polled, none were studying nursing, food and agriculture, physical education, languages or specialist medical areas including dentistry and pharmacy – meaning a difficult future ahead for employers trying to attract UAE nationals to these areas. According to a previous Emirati Employment Report published by Oxford Strategic Consultancy, 54 per cent of Emiratis polled stated a preference to work in the public sector. In terms of industry selection, defence and security sector led the way polling at 35 per cent, banking and finance and oil and gas both snared 20 per cent of polled votes, with telecommunications favoured by 14 per cent of those polled and aviation coming in at 11 per cent. Retention woes of employers The Mercer survey also indicates a retention gap is emerging. Employers are seen to be offering a value proposition that is not fully appreciated or wanted by employees and this can lead to job hopping. “A loyalty gap is clear: 6 in 10 local nationals in work say they plan to swap jobs and companies in the next five years, challenging traditional notions of employee engagement.” The survey assessed the perspectives of 462 UAE National university students, 52 employers and 318 UAE Nationals in the workforce.
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04-05-2016
1 million visas for recruitment firms
RIYADH — The Ministry of Labor has issued a total of one million labor visas for 10 recruitment companies. Each company will have 100,000 visas, Al-Watan Arabic newspaper reported on Tuesday quoting ministry sources. This is a 30 percent increase in the number of visas issued to recruitment companies. The Labor Ministry’s move is part of measures to contain human trafficking and trade in so-called ‘free visas’. The companies will use the new visas to meet the growing demand in the employment market, especially in the small and medium scale sectors. Several SMEs are facing an acute shortage of manpower. Imad Al-Dhukair, president of the Saudi Canadian Council, said that the new move would be instrumental in addressing the shortage of labor resources in the local market. The ministry has started taking stringent measures to combat the free visa trade. Those found guilty will face penalties, including up to 15 years in jail or fine of SR1 million or of both.
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03-05-2016
Maid not paid, banned from travel for 13 years Saudi police arrest employer
A Saudi employer did not pay his housemaid for nearly 13 years and prevented her from travelling home before he was arrested by police. Relatives of the maid reported the employer to the police in the Eastern Qatif town after he also prevented her from going out and seized her mobile phone. Sada and other newspapers said police managed to recover the maid’s payments of SR98,000 (Dh98,000) and free her from her employer, who was arrested.
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03-05-2016
UAE Resident Alert: When, why Emirates ID is cancelled, destroyed? Those seeking a replacement card have to pay Dh300 fee, says Eida
UAE residents are given 90-day grace period to collect their Emirates IDs from their chosen post office location, or else they are returned to the Emirates Identity Authority (Eida), which in turns destroys it. Once the card is printed, the Emirates ID sends it to Emirates Post for delivery. The post subsequently sends a text message informing the customer about the same and requesting to collect the card at the post office specified in the application form. “If the customer does not collect the card within 90 days, Emirates Post returns it to Eida, which in turn destroys the card,” the authority states in its website. In response to a question by Emirates 24|7 on why the card is destroyed, an Eida spokesperson said: “This was a policy between us and Emirates Post to insure that no ID cards are left uncollected for a long time since we issue a large number of ID cards daily that are sent to Emirates Post for distribution.” Those seeking a replacement card, however, have to pay Dh300 fee. This is in addition to the initial cost of application, which the applicant has already paid. Asked if there were any circumstances in which the person’s ID card was not destroyed, the spokesperson said: “No, they are all canceled once they are returned to us by the post office.”
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03-05-2016
Expat oil workers protest unpaid allowances
KUWAIT: A number of expatriate laborers working for a company that has a contract with Kuwait Oil Company (KOC) in Rawdatain yesterday went on strike in protest over not receiving salaries that have been delayed because of some problems related to the company’s contract with KOC. Security forces were present at the worksite in case of any contingency while the protesters sat on the ground dressed in their uniforms. Municipal Council holds session During its weekly meeting, the Municipal Council yesterday agreed to allocate new lands to build 3,600 housing units to the south of Abdullah Al-Mubarak. The council also demanded removing military camps from Jahra and agreed to allocate housing units for citizens who had sold their own houses. Discussing the council’s KD 400,000 budget, member Hassan Kamal stressed that the municipal council was not burdening the state budget and that it was the lowest budget a government body gets. Commenting on the Sabah Al-Ahmed Marine City (Khairan chalets), member Ahmed Al-Fadhalah stressed that the site was ideal for residences, but he noted that many bachelors live in it. Member Osama Al-Otaibi called for activating recycling projects that had been delayed since 2013 because of some paperwork and stressed that in view of the accumulating wastes, solid ones should be recycled to make use of them. The council also discussed the collapse of an under-construction mosque in Sabah Al-Ahmad, killing and injuring some workers. Member Abdullah Al-Kandary urged the housing authority to force the contracting company to report on the collapse. The council also discussed a proposal to remove NGOs out of Shuwaikh residential area and relocate them in Jleeb Al-Shuyiukh.
news
03-05-2016
12,000 Govt contract workers transferred to 250 companies
KUWAIT: The total number of government contract workers who benefited from allowing visa transfers over the past six months was around 12,000 persons working for over 250 companies that have contracts with the government, an official said yesterday. Moussa stressed that employers hailed the decision of allowing laborers to transfer their residency visas for a fee instead of having to leave the country, said Ahmad Al-Moussa, Acting Director of the Manpower Public Authority. “Following several meetings with them, the manpower authority was keen on fulfilling the needs of employers with government projects’ contracts,” he underlined, noting that many of the employers’ demands were met and that had been granted many facilities such as changing job descriptions, authorizing the government contracts department to contact relevant authorities to get security approvals, authorizing labor inspection departments to issue salary certificates valid for three months and addressing the civil aviation department over airlines flying contracted laborers in. 2016-2017 budget In other news, the parliament’s budgets and final statement committee yesterday met Minister of Social Affairs and Labor and Minister of State for Planning and Development Hind Al-Subaih to discuss the manpower authority’s 2016-2017 budget. Committee chairman MP Adnan Abdulsamad commended the minister’s efforts in putting the recommendations made by the committee into practice. “Remarks on the budget do not deny the presence of efforts to fix financial and administrative malfunctions,” he underlined, pointing out that remarks on the authority included not following specific systems in assessing employers’ needs of workers and remarks on the company responsible for automating the process. Responding to the remarks, Subaih stressed that ownership of the database was transferred from that company to the authority in order to prevent unauthorized staff from accessing the system. She added that residency detectives had also shown great cooperation in arresting work permit forgers, illusionary companies and loose marginal labor. National unity law The constitutional court is scheduled to pass a ruling on May 11, 2016 in a case contesting the constitutionality of the national unity law number 19/2012 because it had been issued by a decree of necessity and violated article 71 of the constitution. KPTC suspends Failaka trips Kuwait Public Transport Company (KPTC) CEO Essa Abdullah Al-Hubail said that the company had temporarily suspended its ferry trips from Ras Al-Ardh to Failaka island from last Sunday because of accumulation of sand on the seabed towards Failaka harbor entrance, which could block marine traffic and jeopardize navigation safety. Hubail explained that in collaboration with the Ministry of Communications, KPTC is working on dredging the sand and rehabilitating the port to receive the company’s ferries.
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02-05-2016
UAE Labour Law: How many months' salary do you get for office injuries? Law says employer shall pay for worker’s medical bills, including cost of transport for hospital visits
While you’re at work, it is the duty of your employer to provide a safe work environment, to protect you from health and safety issues, and explain all the hazards that you should be aware of. Most employers follow the guidelines that ensure the safety of the workers and the country’s Labour Law clearly lists the occupational injuries against which the worker is legally protected, the duties of the employer and the rights of the employees in this case. According to Article 142 of the Law, if the worker contracts any of the listed occupational injuries or diseases, the employer should notify the incident immediately to the police and to the Labour Department or a branch within whose jurisdiction the work place is located. Will the employer pay the worker’s medical bills? Yes, the law clearly stipulates that in such cases, the employer is bound to pay the cost of the treatment of the worker in a governmental or private local medical centre until his recovery or disability is proven. This will include costs of hospitalisation/ sanatorium, surgeries, X-Rays and medical analyses, medicines and rehabilitation equipment, and the supply of artificial limbs and other prosthetic appliances when disability is established. The employer shall also pay the worker the cost of transport required due to the treatment and visits to the hospital. How much money will the worker get as compensation? If the worker is unable to perform his duties at work, the employer, by law, has to pay him compensation. This is set as an allowance that is equal to a full wage for the entire period of treatment, or for a period of six months, whichever is shorter. “Should the duration last for more than six months, the allowance shall be reduced by half and such for the following six months or until the worker fully recovers, is declared disabled, or dies, whichever occurs first,” states Article 145 of the Law. This allowance is calculated on the basis of the last wage due to monthly, weekly, daily and hourly-paid workers, and on the basis of the average daily wage. Compensation in case of death If the worker succumbs to his injuries, his family members are entitled to a compensation. This is equal to the basic wage of the worker for 24 months, provided that the amount of compensation is not less than Dh18,000 or more than Dh35,000. “The amount of compensation shall be calculated on the basis of the last wage received by the worker prior to his death. The compensation shall be distributed among the beneficiaries of the deceased worker,” as per Article 149. Monies payable in case of disability The amount of compensation due to the worker in case of permanent total disability shall be equal to the amount due in the event of his death. When will the worker not be paid? The injured worker is not entitled to a compensation for the injury or disability not causing death, if it is proven that he deliberately caused the accident leading to his injury. The worker will also be denied compensation if he was under the influence of drugs or alcohol or intentionally breached the safety instructions posted by the employer at his workplace.
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30-04-2016
Expats in Oman hope new e-visa norms will ease Dubai travel
Muscat: Even as the United Arab Emirates (UAE) made e-visa mandatory from Friday for expats travelling from the Gulf Cooperation Council countries to Dubai, travel agents, airlines and the public are hoping that the process will be quick and prompt. Mohammed Mubarak Al Shikely, vice-president, Marketing, Oman Air, is not surprised as he says e-transactions have become a global trend. “So knowing Dubai, I think this should work out faster, as they normally do things for betterment,” he told the Times of Oman on the sidelines of Arabian Travel Market, which concluded in Dubai on Thursday. He also said applying for an e-visa should make it easier for people as, “you can apply for your e-visa from your home and make things (happen) faster when you land in Dubai. This is simply because online is the way forward.” From April 29, expats in the GCC, with exceptions of certain nationalities, will be required to apply for a visa online before they travel to the UAE. Travel agents, however, feel that the traffic to Dubai may drop initially because of the e-visa requirement. “People are still not used to it. So it will take some time before they adapt to this new policy,” said a travel agent in Oman. “I think this will affect last minute plans, as a lot of people make plans at the last minute to travel to UAE,” he said. However, there are expats, such as Satish K, who are very happy with the decision. “I was rejected twice at the border and granted entry thrice to Dubai. Now, if I am granted an e-visa, I am sure I will able to enter the UAE,” he stated.
news
30-04-2016
Live-in housemaids Hired help becomes a fixture in Saudi domestic life
FOR many Saudi households, especially ones where both parents work, live-in maids are an indispensable part of modern life. And while there exist many grievances against the recruitment process of maids, a process that often results in untrained and poorly qualified maids arriving in the Kingdom, Saudi families must treat their maids with respect and kindness. They must remember that these women have left their countries and families in search of a better life for themselves and their loved ones. Al-Riyadh daily spoke to several citizens to learn how dependable Saudi families are on their maids to run their households. Citizen Khalid Al-Harbi said most families cannot do without maids as an increasingly large number of Saudi mothers work and need help around the house. “Most women today working mothers and thus need help taking care of their children and with housework when they are away. I am against employing a housemaid when the family does not need one and only does so because they want to boast and brag,” Al-Harbi said. Abdullah Al-Mutairi said many Saudi women end up taking advantage of maids by overworking them and treating them as if they are machines, not human beings. “Maids cannot be nannies, cooks and cleaners all at the same time; this is too much work. It also increases Saudi women’s reliance on maids and we must find a balance so maids aren’t being exploited,” he said. For people who mistreat their maids, Jali Al-Abawee offered a reminder that Islam calls on Muslims to treat everyone with respect and dignity. “No doubt that our families are opening up to the outside world and more women are joining the workforce. This means that more and more maids are being recruited. I hate it when I read stories about Saudi families who treat their maids cruelly because Islam calls upon us to treat workers with utmost respect and dignity,” he said. Echoing Al-Abawee’s sentiments, Saudi writer Al-Nayera Al-Mutairi said Saudi employers should be fully aware of the rights of maids and recalled how Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) treated his servant Anas Ibn Malik. The latter said, “I served the Prophet for ten years and he never rebuked me or even asked me why I did or did not do something.” The Prophet called for giving a worker his wages as soon as he finishes his job without any delay. “We should not forget that maids have left behind their children and families by moving here. Living in a foreign country, learning a new language and familiarizing themselves with vastly different traditions and culture is a not a small thing and employers should be mindful of this,” she stressed. Acknowledging that many maids who arrive in the Kingdom suffer from pre-existing psychological problems that can make them prone to violence, Col. Ziyad Al-Ruqaiti, spokesman for Eastern Province Police, downplayed reports that maids commit crimes on a large scale. “Maids involved in crimes represent 1.5 percent of all criminal cases handled by the police,” he said, while urging employers to treat their maids kindly and pay them on time.
news
29-04-2016
14 Drugs cases
KUWAIT: Drugs Control General Department registered 14 cases of drug trade, and arrested 25 suspects including a citizen, seven Egyptians, six Indians, three bedoons, one Sri Lankan, one Jordanian, one Bangladeshi, one Palestinian, two Nepalese and two Filipinos. 100g shabu, 1.5 kg marijuana, 750g hashish, 3010 Tramadol tablets, 70g heroin were seized. The suspects were sent to concerned authorities, while 20 persons were deported after being arrested with the help of drug dealers.
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29-04-2016
3 arrested for forging and selling visit visas; Wife ‘disciplined’
KUWAIT: Interior Ministry Relations and Security Information Department said that criminal detectives have arrested a gang forging entry visas. The suspects include two Kuwaitis and an Egyptian. Undercover detectives apprehended the suspects after engaging them in a visa transaction with marked currency notes. One of the suspects – an unemployed Kuwaiti confessed to forging the visas by removing the information and replacing them with their clients’ information. The suspects target Asians – making KD 400 for each visit visa. 20 visa forms were found in their possessions. Wife ‘disciplined’ Hawally Governorate police have ordered the detention of a citizen. The suspect is accused of ‘restricting freedom, harming and threatening to kill’ his wife. Interior Ministry officials received a call from another citizen alleging that his cousin has been detained by her husband for days. Several policemen stormed the house. The man (husband) claimed he was just disciplining his wife. The suspect locked his wife in the bathroom for two days and threatened to harm her if she shouts. Egyptian ‘wanted’ Sulaibiya Police have published the name of an Egyptian (M A) who disappeared with container of goods worth KD 50,000. A Kuwaiti reported that he made an agreement with a UAE company to deliver some goods. The UAE company delivered as agreed but the Egyptian driver who received the container ran away with the goods. In another development, Jahra detectives are interrogating an Egyptian to get information that could lead to the arrest of five outlaws who stole a car at gun point. An Egyptian expat said the suspects attacked and made away with his car. He submitted a medical report stating his injuries. — Al-Qabas, Al-Anbaa
news
28-04-2016
Female expatriate arrested for blackmailing Saudi woman
Riyadh: A female expatriate was arrested for blackmailing a Saudi woman in Riyadh. Riyadh Police media spokesperson Colonel Fawaz Al-Maiman caught the suspect who threatened to post photos of the Saudi woman on social media websites. The expatriate suspect was handed over to the Bureau of Investigation and Public Prosecution, reported local Arabic daily Okaz. She will be kept in women’s prison pending inquiry.
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28-04-2016
381 FOUND VIOLATING LABOUR LAW
Muscat - As many as 381 workers were found violating the Labour Law from April 17 and April 23, according to the weekly report of the Ministry of Manpower's joint inspection team. Among them were 280 commercial workers, 51 farm workers and 50 housemaids and their equivalents. Of the 377 workers caught, 147 had been declared absconding, 213 were retrenched workers and 17 had other violations listed against them. North Batinah governorate witnessed the maximum number of workers with violations at 117, followed by Muscat with 115. The report also stated that 227 other workers were deporting during the period. Read more: http://www.muscatdaily.com/Archive/Oman/381-found-violating-Labour-Law-4oxq#ixzz475vtqVnx Follow us: @muscat_daily on Twitter | muscatdaily on Facebook
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28-04-2016
Philippine embassy repatriates 143 housemaids through Kuwait’s AVRP
KUWAIT: The Philippine Embassy in Kuwait repatriated 143 runaway housemaids to Manila on Tuesday evening through Kuwait government’s Assisted Voluntary Repatriation Program (AVRP). With this scheme, repatriated workers are sent straight to the airport without passing through the deportation center (Talha). The repatriated workers were temporarily housed at the embassy’s shelter in Hateen for various reasons ranging from maltreatment to sexual and verbal abuse. Around 300 more remain at the two embassy shelters in Faiha and Hateen awaiting repatriation. The repatriated workers are the biggest batch of returnees so far this year. “Thank God, I can go back to my family in one piece,” Mila, a repatriated worker, told Kuwait Times. “I was verbally and physically abused by my female employer, but I had to stay at the embassy because the employer would not want to cooperate and filed a case against me,” she added. Some of the housemaids expressed hope and great aspirations for the positive change of leadership in the Philippines after the presidential election on May 9. “I hope the next president will pay due attention to our plight. I am now very happy because I am finally heading home after five months. But I still have a few friends left behind who couldn’t go home because of some cases filed against them by their employers. I hope the next president will look after their needs and if possible temporarily stop sending OFWs to the Middle East,” said Annalyn, another repatriated worker. Ramon Nerida, head of the Assistance to Nationals Unit of the embassy, said the voluntary repatriation program helps decongest the shelter tremendously. “The good thing about AVRP is that we were able to facilitate fingerprinting in the comfort of the embassy unlike the normal repatriation procedure where housemaids are asked to present themselves in the immigration area, AVRP or not,” explained Nerida. “The immigration authorities of Kuwait are extremely supportive of the program, and sometimes the only problems are the availability of flights back home because of periodic peak seasons,” Philippine Consul General Raul Dado said. He said all distressed OFWs who wish to go home can register their names at the embassy, whose basic policy focuses primarily on the safety and security of all Filipinos in Kuwait. There are an estimated 200,000 Filipinos in Kuwait, more than one third of whom are engaged in domestic work. Around five to seven housemaids run away from their employers daily. According to Philippine Ambassador to Kuwait Renato Pedro Villa, the Philippines along with two other nations in Africa are the only remaining labor-exporting countries sending housemaids to Kuwait.
news
27-04-2016
850 deportees recorded
KUWAIT: Upon the arrival of the first batch of new electronic passports, a team from the information technology department at the Interior Ministry visited Kuwait International Airport to discuss the mechanism of installing electronic reader devices in preparation of handing out the e-passports scheduled for June for certain groups including diplomats, students abroad and patients treated abroad and their companions, as IATA has given Kuwait until the end of this year to do so. Meanwhile, security sources at the information technology center said the lists of deportees from the country include 850 deportees sent back on administrative, judicial and on health grounds. It announced that 10-digit fingerprint machines will be used at the airport. Security sources at the information technology center said the e-readers are linked to two important databases – the first is of citizens’ information when departing or arriving, which can read the passport chip and determine whether the data is correct, and the other is of those wanted by various state departments such as detectives, state security, criminal detectives, investigations and prosecution. Sources said the project includes the installation of electronic gates for citizens connected to the e-reader, so the citizen’s data at the time of departure and entry are automatically entered in the computer and the gate opens automatically, letting travelers pass through. But if a person is wanted, a red sign appears and will prevent the gate from opening, and the person will be directed to the department wanting him. — Al-Rai
news
27-04-2016
Maid mixes employer’s juice with urine Family decides to deport her
An Asian housemaid was caught on camera urinating in a glass of juice she prepared for her employers in Saudi Arabia, prompting a family decision to deport her. Suspecting the maid’s behaviour, the Saudi employer had installed a camera in the kitchen to monitor her moves, the Arabic language daily Sada said. “After seeing the film, he got a shock when he saw the maid urinating in the juice glass before giving it to the family,” the paper said. “The man’s wife said she was surprised by this behaviour as they have treated the maid nicely…she said all family members agreed to immediately deport the maid.” The paper did not mention the location of the Saudi family.
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27-04-2016
UAE Expat Alert: Second passport in 4 months; who qualifies, at what cost? A new passport may take as little as 4 months and offers visa-free travel to 115 countries
Having dual citizenship or a second passport often serves as a tool of convenience and, in certain circumstances, may be necessary for business and individual safety. It provides ease of travel to those whose passports do not allow them to travel to many countries without applying for a visa in advance, or restrict their offshore investments. But how much does one cost, and how to apply for a second passport? Also, not all countries allow their citizens to hold another passport – so who all qualify for dual citizenship? Can anyone apply for a second passport or do you need to qualify for it? Why get one at all? We ask the experts. Why apply for a second passport? “A second passport will help you travel to more than 115 countries all over the world which is not easy with your original one,” Mahmoud Saber, senior citizenship and residency consultant at Elevay, a citizenship and residency planning firm, told Emirates 24|7. “It also gives you the option to have physical residency in any European country without any worry about the law there or any problem you may face with your original one. You can easily establish new business there with low or without any taxes,” he says. Which passport is the ‘best’? Passports vary widely in their usability around the world. Traditionally, the best passports offering visa-free travel come from Europe. Finland, Norway, the United Kingdom, and most European Union countries enjoy visa-free travel to the United States and many other countries – and, of course, all of Europe. Does everyone qualify for a second passport, and how much does one cost? Dual citizenship or getting a second passport can be either by birth or marriage, or after successfully applying for the citizenship of another country. Many countries offer this option to people if they fit the criteria and are willing to invest a set sum. According to Caputo & Partners, a Swiss banking law firm helping international private clients, several thousand people spend a collective $2 billion (Dh7.34 billion) to add a second, or even third, passport to their collection every year. The cost to get a second passport vary a lot depending on which country’s passport are you looking at. To apply for one, there are some conditions you need to meet. “First, you should not have any criminal or police issues. You should also have a clean financial status, which means you don’t have any financial problem with any banks or countries. If both conditions are met and you have at least $150,000 (Dh550,852) you can apply for a second passport and get one only after four months,” explains Saber. How long does it take? If you are looking to buy a passport, which means getting the citizenship of another country through investment schemes, it doesn’t take too long to get it. “It's depend on your budget and which country you will choose to get the second passport from. The minimum timeframe is four months,” says Saber. When choosing to apply for a second passport, you should take into consideration what your objective is. “If you are looking for a passport to make travelling easier without any plans to shift your residency, the Grenadian Passport is the best. But if you are looking to relocate to Europe, then Hungary and Portugal are good bets. Both the countries give residency and passport almost in the same timeframe with same benefits,” he adds. Does my country allow dual citizenship? “When it comes to multiple citizenship – often also referred to as dual citizenship - the world is divided: there are countries whose citizenship regulations allow their own citizens to acquire another citizenship without losing their present citizenship. In contrast, other countries do not allow the acquisition of another citizenship, i.e., the acquisition of another citizenship necessarily leads to the loss of the present citizenship,” according to experts at Henley & Partners, a company providing residence and citizenship planning services.
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27-04-2016
Saudi Arabia to introduce expat 'green card' within five years Saudi government approves vast economic reform plan
Saudi Arabia will introduce a "green card" system within five years to allow resident expatriates in the kingdom to have more rights in order to improve its investment climate, Deputy Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman said on Monday. Speaking in a television interview, he said planned sweeping reforms, of which the proposed green card is one, will be implemented even if oil prices rise back above $70 a barrel and pledged to end Riyadh's dependence on crude revenue by 2020. The Saudi government on Monday approved a plan for vast economic reforms dubbed ‘Saudi Vision 2030’ to substantially reduce the Opec powerhouse’s reliance on oil, the official SPA news agency reported. The plan, details of which were to be announced later Monday, focuses on privatisations, further reductions in subsidies, the sale of part of state oil giant Aramco and the creation of a giant $2 trillion Sovereign Wealth Fund, SPA reported. Saudi Arabia's new "Vision 2030" reform plan will not require major spending but will involve restructuring, Deputy Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman said, adding that spending on infrastructure projects would continue. Prince Mohammed added that the government would restructure the Housing Ministry to help more citizens buy homes, said subsidies should not go to the rich, and said he aimed to reduce unemployment among Saudi nationals to 7 percent from 11.6 percent. He said Saudi Arabia plans to set up a holding company for military industries that would be fully owned by the government at first and listed later on the Saudi bourse. "We are now about to establish a holding company for the military industries 100 percent owned by the government that will be listed later in the Saudi market," Prince Mohammed told Al-Arabiya TV. "We expect it to be launched by end of 2017 with more details." Investment fund will turn kingdom into a global player Saudi Arabia's new investment fund will turn the world's top oil exporter into a global investment power, Mohammed bin Salman said. He said in an interview on Al Arabiya television to announce sweeping reforms known as Vision 2030 that the kingdom's existing Public Investment Fund had made returns of 30 billion ($8 billion) riyals in 2015. Asked by Arabiya whether he thought the management of PIF would be too autocratic, he said there would be an elected board that would make investment decisions for PIF.
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25-04-2016
KSA calls on UN to stop politicizing human rights
GENEVA: Saudi Arabia has called on UN committees to confront the attempt to politicize human rights issues which some, with political goals unrelated to human rights, have used as an excuse for intervening in the internal affairs of other countries. Nasser Al-Shahrani of Human Rights Commission said that Saudi Arabia, under the leadership of Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques King Salman, was making great efforts to uphold human rights including protection from torture as a principle of Islamic Shariah which bans torture and penalizes those who engage in it. Al-Shahrani was delivering the Saudi statement to the UN International Committee Against Torture, in its annual report. He spoke of the strategy, based on Islamic Shariah, which the Kingdom has adopted to fight torture in addition to national legislation, agreements and the Anti-Torture Agreement. He said Saudi strategy was supported by a strong political will and an active justice system against crime with mechanisms for control and follow-up. “Building a strong legal framework, an application system with mechanisms for monitoring and control forms a comprehensive system against torture,” he said. He said Saudi Arabia applied laws and agreements in an effective way, together with procedures and investigations, prosecution and sentencing, and held regular training programs for workers in the field. He added that the Kingdom had taken all procedures against torture in line with its national systems and legislation and that these reflected its concern for international human rights agreements to which Saudi Arabia is a signatory. Al-Shahrani said the Kingdom was also concerned with the development of the judiciary and the review of legislation to amend laws and come up with new ones which generally support human rights. He talked also about new laws relating to procedures which guarantee protection against human rights abuses in the Kingdom, together with the process of investigation and court hearings to ensure justice and protection against torture; those apprehended must understand why they are being arrested and that they have a right to a lawyer. He said that according to the new procedures law, Article 13 specifies that the state must bear all costs and expenditures for a defense lawyer if the accused is unable to pay. This aims to ensure a just and fair trial. He added that a royal decree had been issued directing the formation of a special committee to formulate the laws based on Islamic jurisprudence, and that the committee was making progress on this. He added the Kingdom was committed to all agreements it has signed which do not go against Islamic Shariah. He emphasized that UN committees need to stand steadfast against the politicization of human rights which some have been used as an excuse to intervene in other countries’ internal affairs. Often this has been done with political goals in mind which were unrelated to human rights. He said within the framework of the technical cooperation between Saudi Arabia and the UN Human Rights Commission, a national directive guide will be produced which will apply international agreements by the Kingdom, as well as programs, seminars and workshops such as the one on torture held last January by UN experts. He said Saudi Arabia had established a special center to receive reports of family violence on a toll-free number on a 24-hour basis. He said the center had female staff authorized to intervene at once with the government and NGOs in cases where it is required.
news
23-04-2016
9,862 illegal workers arrested
RIYADH: The country’s security agencies have arrested 9,862 people over the past six month in Al-Jouf for violating the country’s residency and labor regulations. Maj. Yazeed bin Saud Al-Nomas, assistant media spokesman for the police in the region, said the security officials assisted the Labor Ministry. He said more raids would be conducted and warned that those sheltering violators face severe penalties. He said the previous raids had involved blocking off certain areas so that illegal workers could not get away. Those arrested included workers from several counties, who are now being kept in detention centers to face legal action and deportation. The security authorities conduct regular inspections to apprehend illegal workers to curb crimes such as theft, sorcery, and brewing liquor. According to the police, most crimes in the Kingdom are committed by illegal residents who have overstayed their visas. The Ministry of Interior had earlier advised all illegal expatriates in the Kingdom to correct their work and residency status following the end of the amnesty period on Nov. 1, 2013 or leave the country. Following the end of the amnesty, the authorities began to crack down on the many foreign workers who had violated their visa terms with surprise inspections on streets and in company offices.
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23-04-2016
Illegal hiring of maids in Ramadan curbed
DAMMAM: Recruitment companies are working with the Labor Ministry and the police to curb the illegal hiring of maids by families for Ramadan, according to a media report on Friday. Saad Al-Badah, former chairman of the national recruitment committee, said that while there has been continued action taken over the years, which included the ministry and other agencies, the illicit trade continues. There needs to be better coordination among government agencies, and further support for recruitment companies to completely eradicate this criminal behavior, he was quoted as saying. Majed Al-Otaibi, owner of a recruitment company, said that some hiring offices are involved in the black market and offer services of illegal workers for around SR4,000 a month. Nawaf Jabir, director of a recruitment firm, said there is currently cooperation taking place with the police to ensure that workers are not hired out illegally to families over the next two months. He said firms have been reporting violations, with punishment restricted to fines and deportation. He called for tougher action against those involved in the illegal trade.
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23-04-2016
Ministry cautions learners against use of fraud certificates in Oman
Muscat: Ministry of Higher Education (MoHE) has asked learners in Oman to check the credentials of institutes before applying for scholarships at some local academies or training centres, which provide certificates from foreign countries, as some are not approved by the ministry’s Department of Qualifications and Recognition. An official from MoHE also said the ministry is planning to make equivalence certificates mandatory for expatriates too. Currently, the curbs are for Omani nationals only. “This move is to protect companies from people who provide fake certificates, and companies in Oman have shown positive response,” the ministry official told the Times of Oman. He added that workers in the private and government sectors, who find employment using fake certificates, can cause serious problems for their companies and the public. “Just imagine if the worker happened to be an engineer or a doctor,” he said, adding that such acts happen in many parts of the world and that the Sultanate is mulling whether it should enforce stricter rules to protect people from such scams. According to MoHE’s Twitter handle, equivalence certificates will be given to holders of academic degrees, such as a Diploma, Bachelors, Higher Education Diploma, Masters or a PhD. Vocational certificates, such as training courses and high school degrees, will not be eligible for equivalence certificates.
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22-04-2016
Work permit, transfer fees raised up to KD 50 – All Kuwaitis, farms, industries exempt from new power tariffs
KUWAIT: Minister of Social Affairs and Labor and State Minister for Planning and Development Hind Al-Subaih yesterday signed a new decree sharply raising charges on work permits and transfer of residence. The decision raises the charge for a work permit for the first time from KD 2 to KD 50 and its renewal from KD 2 to KD 10. It also raises fees for transfer of work permit (residence or changing employer) from KD 10 to KD 50. The decision becomes effective from June 1. According to the law, such charges are paid by the employers, but in practice, the majority of employers force their workers to pay these fees because of the lack of an effective monitoring system and penalties. The Public Authority for Civil Information increased charges for civil IDs from KD 2 to KD 5 from the beginning of April. Several other charges are expected to be raised soon. Meanwhile, the National Assembly’s financial and economic affairs committee yesterday amended a draft bill for raising power charges to exclude all Kuwaitis in both private homes and apartments from the increase. The committee also exempted the agricultural and industrial sectors from the increase, according to rapporteur MP Mohammad Al-Jabri. The new amendments mean that only expatriates, the commercial sector and government offices will be subjected to the raise. Last week, the Assembly passed in principle the bill after exempting private homes of Kuwaiti citizens from any increase and kept the price at 2 fils per kilowatt regardless of consumption. The bill however did not exempt tens of thousands of Kuwaiti families living in apartments, so the committee made the amendment. The increase for expatriates remained unchanged at 5 fils per kilowatt for the first 1,000 kilowatts, 10 fils per kilowatt for between 1,000 and 2,000 kW and 15 fils per kilowatt for any consumption above 2,000 kW. The Assembly will vote on the new amendments next week and is expected to agree on the dates of applying the new charges. Initially, it was proposed to start for expatriates after 15 months from the issuance of the law. The new charges for expatriates will hardly change during winter months but are expected to increase manifold during the summer months because of air-conditioning. For example, an average consumer who paid only KD 5 monthly on average could end up paying over KD 50 for each of the summer months. The government also plans to reduce subsidies for petrol to increase its prices by over 50 percent and is waiting to strike a deal with MPs on how to deal with Kuwaiti motorists. Some MPs have proposed to exempt citizens from any increase in petrol prices while others called for paying them cash assistance as compensation for the raise. Such decisions are expected to eventually cause a rise in the cost of a number of services and goods, thus raising inflation rates considerably. Commerce and Industry Minister Youssef Al-Ali said last week in the Assembly that the ministry does not expect raising power charges to result in increasing prices of other services and goods. The ministry had already issued a decision banning any artificial increase in prices of consumer goods without a permit from the ministry following the increase in power and petrol charges.
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22-04-2016
Saudi executes Pakistani man for drug trafficking
RIYADH: Saudi Arabia executed a Pakistani national yesterday for smuggling drugs, taking to 86 the number of people the ultra-conservative kingdom has put to death this year. Shah Zaman Khan Sayyed had been found guilty of attempting to smuggle heroin and amphetamines into the kingdom, the interior ministry said. The sentence was carried out in the Riyadh region. Most people put to death in Saudi Arabia are beheaded with a sword. The executions so far this year include 47 for “terrorism” carried out in a single day on January 2. Amnesty International said Saudi Arabia had the third highest number of executions last year, at least 158. That was far behind Pakistan, which put to death 326 people, and Saudi Arabia’s regional rival Iran, which executed at least 977, said Amnesty, whose figures exclude secretive China. The kingdom’s latest execution occurred just hours before US President Barack Obama arrived on an official visit. The British human rights organization Reprieve urged Obama to raise the case of three young men on death row who were minors at the time of their arrests. Among them is Ali al-Nimr, nephew of Shiite cleric Nimr al-Nimr, who was among the 47 people executed in January.-AFP
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22-04-2016
68 illegal laborers arrested in raid
KUWAIT: The Public Authority for Manpower (PAM) in cooperation with the Ministry of Interior as part of the joint committee held inspection raids on illegal work sites in residential areas in Jeleeb Al-Shuyoukh yesterday. Abdullah Al-Mutawteh, Deputy General Director for Manpower Protection Affairs at (PAM) stated that this raid was held based on orders given by the Minister of Social Affairs and Labor and State Minister for Planning and Development Affairs Hind Al-Subeih. This was in continuation of the raid already conducted previously aiming to regulate the labor market. 68 laborers were arrested as they were working in contravention of their residency permits. Al-Mutawteh added that theses raids will continue on a regular basis to eliminate this phenomenon of illegal workers. As part of the awareness campaign of PAM, he also called upon the employers to respect the labor law. The raid was led by Mohammed Al-Dhafi, head of the joint committee, Brigadier General Saleh Al-Anezi, Director of the Farwaniya Security Department and 14 inspectors from PAM in addition to a team of police officers.
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22-04-2016
INDIAN NURSE FOUND DEAD IN SALALAH
Muscat - An Indian nurse was found dead in her apartment in Salalah on Wednesday night. According to initial reports, she is reported to have been stabbed several times and her jewellery was also found missing. The rurse and her husband, who hail from the Indian state of Kerala, were both working at Badr al Samaa hospital in Salalah. An official from Badr al Samaa told Muscat Daily that the victim's body was found by her husband on Wednesday night. The victim was supposed to report for duty at night, but when she didn't show up at work, her husband went to their apartment to check on her. "We don't know the motive of the crime, but it looks like robbery. Police has sealed the property and is investigating the matter," the official said. Read more: http://www.muscatdaily.com/Archive/Oman/Indian-nurse-found-dead-in-Salalah-4oqz#ixzz46XCvwEg5 Follow us: @muscat_daily on Twitter | muscatdaily on Facebook
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21-04-2016
Housemaids’ black market booms
JEDDAH — As the fasting month of Ramadan — which begins in the first week of June — approaches, black market of housemaids has increased with brokers minting thousands of riyals. According to market sources, the cost of transfer of iqama (residence permit) of an Indonesian maid has reached SR35,000 while that of a Filipina is about SR15,000. Lawyer and legal consultant, Saad Al-Malki, says trading in housemaids to make extra dough is downright human trafficking. “This is a crime which should be punished by law,” he said. In Ramadan, the house chores increase necessitating the presence of a helping hand. There is also a lot of socializing during this month which requires the presence of a housemaid. The housemaids hired on a daily basis may cost between SR25-SR40 an hour depending on the family’s size. Accordingly, a housemaid may easily make SR9,000 a month in addition to the costs of brokers who are handsomely paid for their illegal services. Saudi families generally prefer Indonesian housemaids because they are active and have a fair knowledge of the Saudi customs and traditions in addition to being good cooks. The Ethiopians come second in the list of preferences. Most families prefer to have permanent housemaids instead of hiring them on a daily, weekly or monthly basis. Saudis are asking the Labor Ministry to finalize hiring procedures of housemaids from Indonesia. Recruitment from Indonesia has been on hold for more than three years now but the two sides are working to resolve this issue. The maids, who escape from their sponsors, find great chances to make more money with other sponsors during Ramadan.
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21-04-2016
7,473 inquiries answered online via labor advisor
RIYADH — The Ministry of Labor received 7,473 inquiries, all of which were responded by the Labor Advisor during the 1st quarter of year 2016. The inquiries concerning employment contract ranked at the top of Labor Advisor with 4,570 inquiries followed by 923 inquiries on vacation, 853 inquiries on end of service award, 274 inquiries on working hours. On other hand, 77 inquiries were dealt with training and qualification, 61 inquiries on women employment and 715 inquiries on other the ministry and its affiliates’ programs and initiatives. Meanwhile, the labor education website had a total of 304,360 visits. Previously, the Ministry of Labor has launched the service with the aim of increasing awareness of rights and obligations maintained by the Saudi Labor Law. Workers and employer can come into contact with a group of legal advisors who are assigned to receive their inquires via www.laboreducation.gov.sa In addition to how to utilize the service, labor stakeholders can visit the website and select ‘labor advisor’ service from the drop-down menu. Then, they are required to fill out forms with basic information and submit their inquiries that would be answered online by legal advisors at the ministry The ministry has called up on workers and employers to benefit from the service by visiting the website of labor education and putting forward their requests related to legal consultancy.
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21-04-2016
No exemption for any nationality in mobile phone sector
JEDDAH – The Ministry of Labor reiterated on Wednesday that there will not be any exemption for expatriates of any nationality to work in the mobile phone sales and maintenance sector. “All jobs in the sales outlets and maintenance shops of mobile phones and their accessories will be restricted to Saudi men and women after the six-month grace period that will end on Sept. 3 (Dhul Hijjah 1),” said Khaled Abal Khail, spokesman for the ministry. He said the ministry, in cooperation and coordination with the concerned government agencies, will strictly enforce the decision. “As part of this, intensive inspection raids will be carried out on all mobile sales and maintenance outlets across the Kingdom and strict punitive measures will be taken against the violators of the regulations,” he said, adding that the inspection campaign will start from June 6 (Ramadan 1), which is the deadline for the implementation of the first phase of the decision. All mobile shops have been directed to implement 50 percent Saudization by that deadline. Abal Khail said the ministry was keen to ensure everything to facilitate total replacement of expatriates in the vital mobile phone sales and maintenance sector by Saudis taking up the jobs and making investments. “The ministry, in cooperation with other concerned government agencies, has offered a raft of facilities such as free training and financial support, including loans for entrepreneurs. This sector would help unemployed Saudis to earn a decent income and ensure them job security, in addition to bringing out several security, social and economic benefits. The spokesman noted that the Saudization directive is applicable to all types and sizes of mobile phone sales and maintenance firms. Around 10 ministries as well as government departments and agencies are taking part in the ongoing campaign to implement the decision. They included ministries of labor, commerce and industry, municipal and rural affairs, communications and information technology, and social affairs, in addition to the Human Resources Development Fund (HADAF), Technical and Vocational Training Corporation (TVTC), General Organization for Social Insurance, Saudi Savings and Credit Bank, and National Entrepreneurship Institute. So far, more than 110,000 young Saudi men and women have registered their names for undergoing training to take up jobs in this sector. HADAF and TVTC recently inked an agreement to train 20,000 Saudi men and women in the field of mobile phone sales, maintenance and customer service. Under the agreement, HADAF will meet full expenses of the training and 50 percent of the salaries of the trainees when they take up jobs at mobile phone outlets. The fund also will extend financial support to Saudi entrepreneurs, and that will be in cooperation with the National Entrepreneurship Institute. It will also support owners of small mobile shops through providing them with a monthly amount of SR3,000 for a period of two years so as to enable them to run the shops successfully
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20-04-2016
Kuwait oil, gas workers end three-day strike
Kuwaiti oil and gas workers have ended a three-day strike that had temporarily cut the Opec member's crude production by nearly half, the trade union said in a statement posted on its Twitter account. "In honour of his highness the Emir ... we have decided the following. First, the cancellation of the general strike and the attendance of all oil sector workers at their places of work beginning at seven in the morning on Wednesday 20 April 2016," the Oil & Petrochemicals Industries Workers Confederation wrote. The union further pledged "to make every effort to immediately return production to its previous level." News of the strike's end came just hours after Kuwait's oil minister had ruled out negotiations with the employees until they stopped their action, while one of the union leaders said the thousands of workers would hold out until planned public sector pay cuts were cancelled. US oil prices fell slightly after the news. Oil markets had rallied this week as the strike forced Kuwait Oil Company (KOC) to cut output to as little as 1.1 million barrels per day (bpd), down from a normal level of about 3 million bpd. By Tuesday output had recovered to around 1.5 million bpd. Workers fear reduced salaries, benefits and staff layoffs will be part of a planned government overhaul of the payroll system in the public sector. In an interview with Kuwaiti TV channel al-Rai, Kuwait's acting oil minister, Anas al-Saleh, said production would continue and that no talks would proceed during a strike. "We cannot sit down at the negotiating table with the unions during a strike. We will achieve the impossible to continue to operate the oil sector despite the strike," Saleh said. Unions had not said how long the walkout would last. Non-Kuwaiti oil workers are not on strike. – Reuters
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20-04-2016
Indian worker commits suicide
Riyadh: An Indian expatriate committed suicide in the Governorate of Tarif. The migrant worker, in his forties, was found hanging in his accommodation at workplace. Northern Border region assistant media spokesman Captain Fayez bin Muqbal Al-Jahni said that the man closed the room and hanged himself using a cloth, reported local Arabic daily Sabq.
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18-04-2016
94 people arrested in security clampdown in Kuwait
Kuwait: Police launched a security campaign in the Governorates of Al-Farwaniya and Al-Jahra'a apprehend lawbreakers including foreigners who are overstaying their visas in Kuwait. Security forces apprehended 94 illegal expatriate workers and handed down 117 traffic penalties. The patrols caught four alcohol vendors and confiscated 370 bottles of alcohol, reported local Arabic daily Al-Qabas. They also raided vice dens and caught two men and three women in compromising positions. In another clampdown, 17 vehicles were seized in judicial cases.
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18-04-2016
Ethiopian maid accuses employers of cannibalism
Kuwait: An Ethiopian maidservant claimed that the members of the family which is employing her are cannibals. According to a security source, the expatriate woman alleged that she saw a human head in her employer’s house which is located in the district of Salwa in the Governorate of Hawali in Kuwait. Based on the allegations of the maidservant, police went to the house but no one opened the door for them. The police have launched an inquiry to investigate the case, taking into account the possibility that the maidservant may be seeking revenge or is simply mentally ill causing her to hallucinate.
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18-04-2016
Kuwait government orders legal action against strikers, foreign workers sought
Kuwait: The cabinet directed competent authorities to take legal action against unacceptable practices, and with bringing to accountability anybody involved in the disruption of the country's vital utilities. The cabinet said in a statement on Sunday it had asked Kuwait Petroleum Corporation (KPC) to take all necessary measures in order to provide required workers in order to keep work and production at oil facilities, and to honor local and international commitments. It urged all workers in the oil sector to show responsibility, sacrifice and positive responsible response by giving top priority to the country's higher interest. The cabinet added that it had monitored, with deep sorrow and much resentment, the negative effects of the strike carried out by some oil workers since it targets the disruption of vital oil facilities. The cabinet also reviewed relevant dimensions, aftershocks, details and estimated losses, not to mention other direct and indirect harms that could damage the country's reputation and status. The cabinet voiced full respect to all constitutional rights, mainly public liberties and freedom of expression, but within specific limits set out by Law 11/1996, excluding the right of strike due to its serious impacts on the public interest. This makes the strike an illegitimate act and violation of the law, which should be resolutely addressed and requires legal action against all those involved. However, the cabinet appreciated the nature and significance of work and efforts of the workers of this vital oil sector, and highly commended all sincere efforts, distinguished efficient staff and all works of serious and sensitive nature at different positions and levels. The country's critical economic situation triggered off by low oil prices and relevant adverse ramifications and challenges at present and in the future, requires that everybody should show national responsibility, sacrifice and positive responsible response to such challenges, and give top priority to higher interests, rather than narrow ones, it said. In this regard, according to the statement, the Deputy Premier, Finance Minister and Acting Minister had announced that KPC would keep intact oil workers' rights and benefits gained in line with the arbitration body and relevant international conventions. Article 103 of Law 6/2010 regarding working in the private sector, which applies to the oil sector, stipulates that employers and their unions must respect all laws in the state and exercise their activities within specific goals, and regulate the Director General of Saudia Saleh Al-Jasser cabinet added. It emphasized that there should not be any threat to the country's interests, reputation or status, warning that any threat cannot be condoned by all sincere and honest Kuwaitis.
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16-04-2016
SR26,000 for maid through visit visa!
JEDDAH: Agents are reportedly using visit visas that are renewable every six months to recruit household workers, particularly from Gulf countries, pushing up the price of each worker to around SR26,000. “Brokers recruit about 140 household workers per month, especially from the Philippines and Sri Lanka, with recruitment periods ranging from one month to four months and salaries of up to $300 (SR1,125) per month,” owners of recruitment offices were quoted as saying by local media. This method increases the cost delays the recruitment, they said. “Recruitment through Gulf countries increases the price and floods the market with violating workers, as well as results in closure of 30 percent of recruitment offices in the Kingdom.” The owner of one office, who preferred not to disclose his name, said there is cooperation between brokers and their counterparts in Gulf countries to recruit workers to the Kingdom via visit visas that are renewable on a six-month basis. “There is an agreement that the employer pay up to $7,000 (around 26,000) and wait for up to four months for the worker to arrive. Recruitment from Sri Lanka costs up to $5,000 and a monthly salary is SR250.” The Ministry of Labor has been consistently conducting inspection campaigns to ensure that companies abide by the regulations pertaining to recruitment of workers. Recruiting workers, including housmaids, is a smooth process if the rules and regulations in the Kingdom are followed.
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16-04-2016
MoL project to stamp out ‘sale of visas’
RIYADH: The Ministry of Labor (MoL) will soon begin work on a project to reduce recruitment from abroad through "sale of visas." This, the ministry thinks, will provide job opportunities for Saudis and expats residing in the Kingdom, a local publication reported. Sources told the publication that the project involves a developmental process that will include displaying recruitment applications and transfer of services or ending the contractual labor relation through the employment portal on the ministry's website. Job opportunities will be listed on the e-employment portal that will allow employers and establishment owners to employ Saudis and activate the job nationalization process. In the event no Saudi applies for the job, the employer will have the chance to seek recruitment of expats from inside the Kingdom by allowing the transfer of services. Recruitment from outside the Kingdom will only be allowed in the event no expat from inside the Kingdom applies for the job. Visas will be issued in that event, according to the report. The new regulations will require applicants to obtain visas by, inter alia, providing full details of the job in terms of salary, housing benefits and allowances, insurance, the nature of the work and hours in addition to the duties and obligations of the two sides in the work contract. The project is aimed at reducing unemployment rates; increasing job opportunities offered; eliminating fake employment and documentation of the work relationship of the involved parties, and their duties and obligations toward each other; and eliminating trade in visas. The project allows Saudis to obtain clear details on the employment offered including compensations, benefits, job security and other issues involved. For expats, the project will give them the necessary guarantee of their rights.
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15-04-2016
KPC seeks to resolve oil workers’ dispute
KUWAIT: KPC and its subsidiaries earnestly seek resolution to its differences with Kuwait’s oil workers’ union to avert any adverse effects on the national economy, spokesman for the Oil Sector Sheikh Talal Al-Khaled Al-Sabah said yesterday. He said in a press statement that KPC has responded favorably to an invitation by the Deputy Director of the Public Authority for Manpower (PAM) Abdullah Al-Mutawtah to attend a meeting today to discuss with union representatives means of ending the dispute between them. He further said that the oil workers’ union did not show up for the meeting. Meanwhile, Kuwait Oil Tanker Co assured the public that liquefied natural gas (LNG) cylinders used for cooking are plentifully available and there is no fear of disruption in its availability. The assurance comes in view of the potential strike that has been called for by the oil workers’ union for next Sunday after deadlock in the union’s negotiations with the government regarding a number of grievances. Kuwait bourse Meanwhile, trades over the past week started amid an upbeat atmosphere, masterminded by major groups namely Al-Kharafi, Al-Bahar and Al-Madina, thus lifting up the main indices. The five sessions were distinguished with emergence of a large number of “small and slack chips,” below 50 fils, which played major role in terms of volume and number of transactions, while operating blue-chips, namely those under the KSX-15 index umbrella, were generally stable. Traders were reluctant, particularly in the week first sessions, however their mood changed when Boubyan Bank revealed satisfactory results for the year first quarter, revealing KD nine million worth of earnings. Most of the operations involved chips valued at 37.5 fils or 50 fils. In the last session, activity was marked with profit bagging, while most of the transactions targeted shares of Baitak, the National Bank of Kuwait, National Investments and Agility. The KSE ended trading on mixed boards Thursday. The price index was down 5. 68 points to 5,300.51 points, while the weighted index rose by 0.62 points to stand at 365.07 points, as well as the KSX 15 index up by 1.26 points, to read 836.14 points. Value of trade was KD 18.3 million while the volume was KD 233 million done through 4,852 deals. – Agencies
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15-04-2016
Kuwait to raise power, water price for expats 
KUWAIT CITY: Kuwait’s Parliament on Wednesday passed a bill allowing the government to raise power and water charges on foreign residents and on businesses but exempted the Gulf state’s citizens. Thirty-one MPs voted in favor while 17 members opposed it. The second and final round of voting will take place after two weeks. MPs initially rejected the bill but later approved it after Kuwaiti citizens were exempted. If given the final clearance, it will be the first time in 50 years that Kuwait raises power charges. Like other crude exporters, Kuwait’s oil-dependent revenues dwindled since oil prices crashed by over 70 percent from its mid-2014 peak. The bill stipulates to raise power charges in apartment buildings, overwhelmingly used by foreigners, from the current flat rate of two fils (0.7 cents) per kilowatt gradually to up to 15 fils (five cents) per kilowatt. For commercial uses, it will be raised from two fils per kilowatt to 25 fils per kilowatt. Water prices will also be more than doubled. Electricity and Water Minister Ahmad Al-Jassar said during a heated debate in Parliament that the government was paying around $8.8 billion annually to subsidize power and water production. If no action was taken, consumption would triple by 2035 and subsidies would rise to $25 billion, the minister said. The aim of the bill was to cut consumption by over 30 percent, he said.
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15-04-2016
Kuwait oil workers reject compromise; strike set 
KUWAIT: Kuwaiti oil workers will go ahead with a strike starting on Sunday, their union head said, rejecting an offer from the state oil company to suspend the implementation of public sector pay reforms. Kuwait Petroleum Corporation (KPC) and its subsidiaries agreed to temporarily freeze a planned government overhaul of the payroll system and seek a compromise through a joint committee with the workers union, said the spokesman for Kuwait’s oil sector, Sheikh Talal Al-Khaled Al-Sabah. The union head, Saif Al-Qahtani, called that “playing with words.” “The KPC statement is talking about ‘freezing’ the decisions, while our demand is to cancel them,” Qahtani, head of the Oil and Petrochemical Industries Workers Confederation, told Reuters. “The strike is still on and on time.” The union has not said how long the strike, involving thousands of workers at state-owned oil, gas and petrochemical companies, would last. Workers fear the payroll overhaul would reduce salaries and affect other benefits. Kuwait National Petroleum Company, a subsidiary of KPC and one of five state-owned companies that would be affected, has said there is a contingency strategy to ensure production and exports would not be affected. KPC called on the unions to work with it to find a way out of the dispute, and warned that under Kuwaiti laws it was illegal to obstruct work in public facilities in areas such as oil, gas and petrochemicals. “There is no doubt that the commotion contains a direct and major threat to the stability of the oil sector which represents the main economic artery for the country’s revenues and is the source of its wealth and prosperity,” the statement said. It said that anyone inciting a work stoppage risked “subjecting himself to legal questioning.” The KPC reviewed “maximum” contingency plans in the face of the crisis. Its board of directors discussed “alternative plans and precautionary measures” at all its affiliate companies.
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13-04-2016
Oman Transport Oman transport: Air India increases free baggage allowance
Muscat: Air India has increased its free baggage allowance to 35 Kgs. in economy class for all passengers travelling to Mumbai on tickets purchased beginning 9th April 2016 and travelling through 31st May 2016. Passengers travelling to domestic destinations through Mumbai will also receivethe free baggage allowance. Air India is operating all domestic flights from Mumbai Terminal –T2, which helps smooth the transfer of passengers bound for domestic and onward destinations. Special add-on fares over Mumbai, Delhi, Chennai and Hyderabad are available for domestic cities in India at attractive pricing. Air India operates 24 flights per week with daily non-stop flights to Mumbai, Delhi and Chennai, apart from thrice weekly flights to Hyderabad and Bangalore.
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13-04-2016
Asian woman shot dead in Mecca, inquiry launched
Riyadh: An Asian woman of Burmese origin has been shot dead in the city of Mecca The police found the dead woman in a flat still bleeding, with four bullets in her body and head. An inquiry has been launched to investigate the circumstance of her death and bring the perpetrators to justice
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13-04-2016
Asian facing trial for killing compatriot
Abu Dhabi: An Asian expatriate worker is facing trial at the Criminal Court in Dubai, on charges of murdering his fellow Asian. The Public Prosecution charged him with killing another Asian construction worker and referred him to stand trial at the Criminal Court. The defendant admitted to stabbing the victim to death because he wanted to have sex with him. He said that he got mad and grabbed two knives which were on the fridge and stabbed the victim to death with the intention of killing him. He then covered the body and hid it under the bed, threw the key of the room in the water closet and ran away after dumping the knives in a street dust bin. The coroner conducted an autopsy and reported 19 stabs in the body of the victim.
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13-04-2016
Shelter to be provided for maids stranded at airports
RIYADH: Vice Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques Mohammed bin Naif, in Monday’s weekly Cabinet meeting, briefed the ministers on the contents of the messages received by Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques King Salman from the prime minister of Ethiopia and his meetings with the ministers of youth and sports of Gulf Cooperation Council countries, and the speaker of the United States House of Representatives. The Cabinet commended the king for his sentiments expressed during his meeting with the housing minister and officials, where he had urged greater cooperation between the public and private sectors to provide decent and affordable housing for citizens. The Cabinet was also briefed on the results of the meeting of the Supreme Haj Committee, chaired by Prince Mohammed, which had highlighted plans to provide improved services and security for pilgrims. Later, the Cabinet announced several decisions including for the labor and social affairs ministries to set up shelters for maids stranded at the country’s airports by errant sponsors and those fleeing abuse. The Cabinet authorized Deputy Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, second deputy premier and defense minister, to discuss a defense agreement with Ethiopia. The Cabinet further authorized the Foreign Ministry to establish a Saudi-Turkish Coordination Council; and the Ministry of Defense (Air Forces) to provide security at civilian airports with the General Authority for Civil Aviation for three years.
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12-04-2016
Municipality lays off 54 expats, more to follow
KUWAIT: Kuwait Municipality yesterday announced laying off 54 expatriates who had been working on a ‘pay-for-work’ basis, including 14 working with the municipal council. The municipality added that more expats, at least twice as many, would be laid off within the coming few days upon Civil Service Commission’s (CSC) recommendations to cut expenses. The municipality also stressed that all laid off expats would receive their financial dues in full. Students’ safety Deputy chairman of Kuwait Students Union in the United States Yousif Al-Mojammad stressed that the union had been coordinating with the Kuwaiti embassy and consulate to solve the problems Kuwaiti students were facing in Pocatello. He added that the union had emailed all students informing them that they could be transferred to other universities in other states. PAAAFR’s role Chairman of the parliament’s budgets and final statement committee MP Adnan Abdulsamad said that the committee met yesterday to discuss the Public Authority for Agricultural Affairs and Fish Resources’ (PAAAFR) budget for 2016-2017 and that it noticed that many of the remarks made in the previous parliamentary term had been resolved or tackled. Abdulsamad added that PAAAFR failed to achieve the role it had been established for in the first place – achieving self-sufficiency and food security. “The government paid KD 140 million over the past four years to subsidize animal husbandry without achieving any tangible results except in eggs production,” he said
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12-04-2016
No expats to be hired if Saudis available
RIYADH — The private sector will be allowed to recruit foreign manpower from outside only if there are no qualified Saudis to take the jobs the employers are looking for, according to a senior official of the Human Resources Development Fund (Hadaf). Deputy executive chairman of the fund Omar Milibari said a project to provide opportunities for the nationalization of jobs before opening the door for foreign recruitment is currently being worked out and will soon be implemented. He made the statement in Riyadh on Sunday while addressing a special gathering to present the fund’s projects. The gathering was organized by the human resources committee of the Riyadh Chamber of Commerce and Industry. Milibari said under this project, the recruitment process will be transferred to the Labor Ministry’s electronic National Gate for Jobs to give chance to the Saudi workforce. If an employer is unable to find qualified Saudis within a stipulated time, then his recruitment application for foreign manpower will be processed,” he said. Milibari denied any intention of the fund to stop its financial support to the establishments which employ a large number of Saudi nationals. He said the payment of subsidies was hampered by some complications in the fund’s electronic system but it is now continuing as usual. The deputy chairman revealed that the fund has completed a job-classification index which will help in the formulation of an integrated directory of job descriptions, responsibilities and their required skills. “This index will give a comprehensive analysis of the jobs needed by the labor market to be the focus of training by colleges and institutes cooperating with the fund,” he said. Milibari said the fund, which has 126 branches scattered all over the Kingdom, has facilitated women employment. The aim is to increase their employment rate to 24 percent by 2020, Milibari said.
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12-04-2016
Ministry of Labor to deal with runaway housemaids
RIYADH — The Ministry of Labor has been tasked by the Council of Ministers to give shelter to runaway maids. The weekly session of the Cabinet, chaired by Vice Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques Prince Muhammad Bin Naif, also instructed the Ministry of Labor to work out, in coordination with the Ministry of Social Affairs, a time-bound plan to carry out this task. Minister of Civil Service and Acting Minister of Culture and Information Khaled Al-Araj said that Ministry of Labor will be the most suitable authority to give shelter to all housemaids who run away from their sponsors as well as to housemaids who were handed to Passport authorities (Jawazat) at airports and other entry points following no-show of their sponsors to receive them upon their arrival in the Kingdom. In a statement to the Saudi Press Agency, Al-Araj said that the Cabinet took this decision after reviewing a report from the Ministry of Interior on the basis of the recommendations of a committee, constituted in line with a royal decree, to carry out studies about the problems of such housemaids. The Cabinet also endorsed the formation of a committee, comprising officials of the ministries of labor and social affairs, to identify the shelters for runaway maids and transfer these shelters to the Ministry of Labor.
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11-04-2016
Woman arrested for offering illegal domestic help services
KUWAIT: A woman was arrested in South Surra for offering domestic help services illegally. A citizen had reported that he had given an Indian woman KD 250 to provide a nurse for his elderly mother, but she vanished, said security sources. The sources added that initial investigations showed that the woman was well-known to South Surra residents, and that she usually provided them with domestic labor and private nurses. The sources added that the woman was known to be greedy and that she usually overcharged her clients, especially if she learnt that the original housemaids had run away. Many complaints had been filed against the woman Liquor possession A citizen was arrested in Salmiya with possession of 56 bottles of homebrewed and imported liquor, said security sources. Case papers indicate that on stopping the man to check his ID, he seemed very nervous, which called for searching his vehicle, where policemen found the liquor. A case was filed. Meanwhile, a citizen and a Saudi national were arrested with 81 illicit pills, said security sources. Verbal insults Two citizens, a man and a woman who live in the same building in Sabah Al-Salem exchanged verbal insults in a fight over old unsettled scores, said security sources, noting that they both raced to the police station to exchange accusations and file cases. Further investigations are in progress. Ex-husband charged A female citizen recently accused her ex-husband of stealing her mobile phone to examine its contents. The woman informed Rumaithiya police that her ex-husband picked up their daughter and after leaving, she discovered that her mobile phone was missing. A case was filed and the man is being summoned for further investigations. Resisting arrest A citizen in his twenties was arrested for refusing to show his ID to a police patrol, said security sources, noting that on checking on him at the station, the man turned out to be wanted for fraud. The man is also facing charges of resisting arrest and insulting policemen.
news
11-04-2016
Expat workers at Justice Palace protest unpaid wages
KUWAIT: A number of expatriate laborers working at the Palace of Justice (the courts’ complex) went on strike yesterday in protest over not receiving their monthly salaries for three months. Accordingly, a number of lawyers and employees urged the minister to act to resolve the problem, especially since some of them have residency visas that expired two years ago. “How can injustice prevail at the courts’ complex?” wondered some lawyers. Courts’ roundup The criminal court yesterday abstained from punishing former MP Waleed Al-Tabtabaei and released him on a KD 5,000 bail and one-year good conduct pledge in a state security case in which he had been accused of promoting false news about the post of His Highness the Crown Prince. Meanwhile, the court of appeal yesterday annulled an earlier verdict sentencing a man accused of smuggling diesel to prison and fined him KD 4,000. Notably, the defendant had been sentenced to prison and a KD 43,000 fine. In another case, the administrative court yesterday annulled the minister of social affairs’ decision on dissolving the Yarmouk Co-op’s board of directors and returned all the board members to their positions.
news
11-04-2016
All telecom workers must be Saudi by September 3
RIYADH: The Ministry of Labor intends to nationalize the telecom industry in the long run, not just the mobile phone sales, maintenance and accessories sector, ensuring that no telecom job is held by an expatriate worker. Ministry spokesman Khaled bin Abdulaziz Abalkhail pointed out that the decision to Saudize the above mentioned sectors came into effect on March 10, giving employers and expatriate workers six months to correct their status. After the end of three months, the entire mobile phone industry has to recruit 50 percent Saudi employees by June 6. And starting Sept. 3, all employees have to be Saudi, he said. The spokesman said that all parties involved have agreed on the total nationalization of the telecom sector and its professions including jobs in cell phone shops, accounting, marketing and clerical work. Mega shops with multiple departments are required to have a separate section for mobile phone sales, maintenance and accessories where Saudi workers are exclusively allowed to work, he said. He emphasized that inspection rounds, in collaboration with other law enforcement agencies, are being conducted to make sure that establishments abide by the decision that targets telecommunications, in particular. The decision aims at creating job opportunities for Saudi nationals willing to join the telecom industry. It also seeks to limit security, social and economic threats and curb cover-up business. According to the MoL, enforcement will cover all regions and establishments across the Kingdom.
news
11-04-2016
No passport services without fingerprinting
RIYADH – The Directorate General of Passports (Jawazat) announced on Monday that all passport services for those expatriates who failed to register their biometric fingerprinting details have been stopped. “No computer services will be available for those who did not take their fingerprinting at the Jawazat offices across the Kingdom,” the directorate said in a statement. The directorate urged the expatriates who have so far not registered their biometric details to soon approach the nearest Jawazat offices to undergo the procedures as a last chance. The Jawazat has been implementing a new rule on biometric fingerprint enrollment for expatriates who are living with their families in the Kingdom in a phased manner. According to the directive, it is mandatory for dependents of expatriates, including women and children above the age of six, to have their fingerprints taken at its offices across the Kingdom. Recently, the Communications and Information Technology Commission (CITC), the Ministry of Interior, and the security agencies imposed a strict new regulation on telecommunication subscribes and new SIM card mobile phone users to register their biometric fingerprints in a mobile SIM information system as a national security measure.
news
11-04-2016
Green Card for expats to boost investment
MADINAH — Saudi Arabia’s plan to introduce a permanent residency card system for expatriates, similar to US Green Card, will help cut down foreign remittances by 30 percent, according to experts. “The move will help keep billions of Saudi riyals within the Kingdom,” said an informed source. Nidal Ridwan, chairman of the Federation of Labor Committees in the Kingdom, said he expected the formation of an independent authority to implement the new system. Deputy Crown Prince Mohammed Bin Salman, who is chairman of the Council of Economic and Development Affairs, has already announced the government’s resolve to implement the system, which would bring at least SR37 billion to national coffers. Ridwan said the new Green Card would not only help the Kingdom get rid of the negative impact of illegal tasattur (cover-up) business but also get rid of the sponsorship system. Non-Saudis would be able to enjoy all the benefits and services being enjoyed by Saudis including medical services and banking facilities. “You know the Green Card holders enjoy all the rights US citizens enjoy except the right to nomination, election and joining the armed forces. I believe the same thing will happen in Saudi Arabia once the new system is implemented,” Ridwan explained. He highlighted the Kingdom’s economic attractions, adding that it would help attract highly qualified Saudi and foreign manpower to implement its various projects. But to get permanent residency, applicants should have specific academic qualifications and professional skills in addition to capital funds for investors to add value to the Saudi economy and society, Ridwan said. It is widely believed that the new system would give a shot in the arm of the Kingdom’s diversification program in terms of increasing the flow of foreign investment. Those who wish to get permanent residency card should have the minimum investment fund specified by the government, which will assure them short-term and long-term investment guarantees. Economic analyst Ahmed Al-Khateeb emphasized the positive impact of the new card system on the Saudi economy. “It will give an opportunity for expats having good revenue to invest in the Kingdom’s businesses and real estate. This will help reduce foreign remittances to a great extent because of the presence of attractive investment windows within the Kingdom.”
news
09-04-2016
IS claims to release 300 Syrian cement workers, TV says 175 executed - See more at: http://www.madhyamam.com/en/international/2016/apr/9/claims-release-300-syrian-cement-workers-tv-says-175-executed#sthash.3N5VoiDB.dpuf
Damascus: The Islamic State (IS) claimed on Friday to have released 300 workers abducted from a cement factory after earlier TV reports said 175 workers had been executed. In a statement carried by the IS' Amaq news agency on Friday, the group still detain 20 workers and has executed four workers from the Druze minority, which is considered as an infidel sect by the IS creed, Xinhua reported. The statement said the militants had moved the workers to a secure place after capturing the cement factory in the town of Dumair, northeast of the capital Damascus earlier this week. It added that the workers were given medical treatment and food. The hostages have been interrogated by the IS terrorists to "find out whether there were non-Muslims or regime members among them," the statement said. The detained 20 workers were confirmed as the members of the National Defense Forces, a paramilitary force backing the Syrian army. Meanwhile, the Military Media in Damascus, a semi-official channel covering the battles in Syria, reported that when the IS terrorist attacked the factory, there were 260 employees, 30 of whom were drivers. "The IS interrogated those workers and set free the majority of them at 3:00 a.m. (local time) on Thursday," the channel said, adding that some released workers reached a position of the Syrian army in the city of Jairod north of Damascus, while others reached the military airbase of Dumair, which is close to the factory.
news
08-04-2016
Day laborers’ fulfill market demand despite the law
At six in the morning you’ll find them sitting on street curbs in Bneid Al Gar, Hawally, Salmiya, Farwaniya, Shuwaikh and areas of Kuwait. They gather around and wait until a vehicle pulls up, a job on offer. They argue and negotiate until a deal is reached, then one, two or maybe several hop in and are taken by the driver to their job for the day. This might be a construction site, a private house, a farm in Wafra. These are the day laborers of Kuwait and though the work is largely illegally it’s in much demand in the country. According to Kuwait’s Private Sector Labor Law, foreigners may only work for their kafeel (sponsor) and any employee caught working outside can be penalized and deported. In Kuwait, part time work is allowed but only under certain conditions. Workers must secure necessary approval from their sponsor and authorization from Kuwait’s Manpower Public Authority. But most either can’t or don’t. While the majority of the laborers Kuwait Times spoke with had valid visas some also are illegal residents who rely on the day labor to survive. In recent months, there have reported cases of raids on some companies here and workers caught working with other companies other than his/her employer are arrested. The move was implemented by the Ministry of Social Affairs and Labor and Ministry of Interior, for a number of reasons but most particularly to stop and protect Asian workers from bogus companies and visa trafficking. Kuwait is home to 2.9 million expatriates who make up 70 percent of the country’s 4 million population. Kuwait Times found many temporary laborers, mostly men in the streets of Hawally and Salmiya. The demand is high for day laborers for many reasons. First they can be hired for relatively low wages. Secondly, some companies or individuals may have difficulty sponsoring laborers or have need for them only during short periods of the year. Many are used for construction projects or for remodeling projects that are one off jobs and require only a few days of extra labor. “We are here to accept job from people who need our services whatever job available; say helper, gardener, cleaner, whatever it is, we are ready to accept and render our services,” said Sunil, one of many laborers standing in one of the streets in Salmiya. Sunil used to wait for a temporary employer as early as five in the morning till six. “I accept even KD 6 or KD 10 per day. I’ve been doing this for the last two years now after resigning from a restaurant job,” admitted Sunil who is in his late 40s. “I have a family to feed back in India so I am working whatever job available so long as I am earning money. I will do whatever it takes,” he added. The reality is that Kuwait’s private sector does need part time and day laborers. There is a real market and demand and though the laws limit the availability, the market needs must be met. Egyptian duo Shaaban and Ahmad were at the ‘laborer street’ in Hawally waiting for their transportation to bring them to the construction site where they temporarily work. The duo is armed with some construction tools/equipment which they carry with them almost every day. “We are friends and we are heading to Farwaniya for a job in a construction building there; we’ve been on this job for about five months now, the job is almost complete, so we will soon look for another place to work,” Shaaban said.
news
07-04-2016
UAE labor meet finds expats still troubled
ABU DHABI: Laborers gathered yesterday for an event aimed at showcasing how the United Arab Emirates is trying to make labor laws more understandable instead discussed unscrupulous bosses, abuses and poor conditions rampant across the Gulf Arab states. Wearing handed-out white baseball caps reading “I (heart) UAE,” laborers praised the Emirati effort at translating labor laws while still complaining about stagnant wages and being suckered by agents into jobs they didn’t want. “The companies are gaining. They are making all the profits. What about the laborers?” asked Adnan Chaudhry, 30, of Pakistan, who works in human resources at a copper manufacturing plant. “The managers are up, up, up and the laborers are down, down, down.” Gulf nations long have relied on migrant labor to build their oil-funded skylines, drive their taxicabs and clean their hotel rooms. In the UAE, a federation of seven emirates on the Arabian Peninsula, foreign workers vastly outnumber locals. In recent years, however, the conditions workers face has gained particular attention ahead of Qatar hosting the 2022 FIFA World Cup. An Amnesty International report last week alleged migrant laborers faced abuse that in some cases amounted to forced labor while working on one stadium that will host the tournament. Yesterday, Emirati officials gathered before several hundred workers at what appeared to be a model residential camp for laborers and managers on the outskirts of Abu Dhabi, the Emirati capital. They answered a series of questions from workers as Saqr Ghobash, the UAE’s minister of human resources and emiratization, moved through the crowd, trailed by television cameras. But even here, with security guards holding trays full of expensive chocolates, taxi drivers discussed how their housing didn’t allow them to cook meals. Others talked about being in small rooms split in two, with 10 men sleeping inside at a time. An apprentice taxi driver said he had his pay docked any time he did poorly on an exam. ‘I’m not happy,” said the taxi driver from Nigeria’s southern Edo state, who asked his name not be used for fear of losing his job. “I wish I never came.” Gulf Arab nations have come under increasing scrutiny from human rights and labor activists over their treatment of low-paid workers. Labor unions are not allowed and strikes are illegal in the UAE, though protests sometimes occur. Hundreds of migrant laborers staged a rare protest in November near the airport hosting the opening day of the biennial Dubai Airshow. Habib Rehman, a Pakistani who works in human resources for a construction firm, said he appreciated the effort to translate labor laws into languages like Hindi, Tamil, Bengali and Urdu, but said a wider campaign was needed to educate all workers. Also, even laborers who know their rights sometimes face bosses who threaten to ban them from the UAE, he said. “There are people in between who have been misusing” the laws, Rehman said. “They put them under pressure, blackmailing them.” Ali Ebrahim Al-Shehhi, a senior administrator at the Dubai labor office who attended Wednesday’s meeting, answered several of Rehman’s questions, stressing workers should document what they see and never sign a paper they don’t understand. However, when pressed by Rehman about bosses and company heads knowingly breaking the law, he said Emirati authorities wouldn’t allow it. “The world has changed,” Shehhi said. “You have to change your mentality.
news
07-04-2016
‘Labor pains’ described at UAE meeting with workers
ABU DHABI: Laborers gathered Wednesday for an event aimed at showcasing how the UAE is trying to make labor laws more understandable instead discussed unscrupulous bosses, abuses and poor conditions rampant across the Gulf Arab states. Wearing handed-out white baseball caps reading “I (heart) UAE,” laborers praised the Emirati effort at translating labor laws while still complaining about stagnant wages and being suckered by agents into jobs they didn’t want. “The companies are gaining. They are making all the profits. What about the laborers?” asked Adnan Chaudhry, 30, of Pakistan, who works in human resources at a copper manufacturing plant. “The managers are up, up, up and the laborers are down, down, down.” Gulf nations long have relied on migrant labor to build their oil-funded skylines, drive their taxi cabs and clean their hotel rooms. In the UAE, foreign workers vastly outnumber locals. On Wednesday, Emirati officials gathered before several hundred workers at what appeared to be a model residential camp for laborers and managers on the outskirts of Abu Dhabi, the Emirati capital. They answered a series of questions from workers as Saqr Ghobash, the UAE’s minister of human resources and emiratization, moved through the crowd, trailed by television cameras. But even here, with security guards holding trays full of expensive chocolates, taxi drivers discussed how their housing didn’t allow them to cook meals. Others talked about being in small rooms split in two, with 10 men sleeping inside at a time. An apprentice taxi driver said he had his pay docked any time he did poorly on an exam. “I’m not happy,” said the taxi driver from Nigeria’s southern Edo state, who asked his name not be used for fear of losing his job. “I wish I never came.” Habib Rehman, a Pakistani who works in human resources for a construction firm, said he appreciated the effort to translate labor laws into languages like Hindi, Tamil, Bengali and Urdu, but said a wider campaign was needed to educate all workers. Also, even laborers who know their rights sometimes face bosses who threaten to ban them from the UAE, he said. “There are people in between who have been misusing” the laws, Rehman said. “They put them under pressure, blackmailing them.” Ali Ebrahim Al-Shehhi, a senior administrator at the Dubai labor office who attended Wednesday’s meeting, answered several of Rehman’s questions, stressing workers should document what they see and never sign a paper they don’t understand. However, when pressed by Rehman about bosses and company heads knowingly breaking the law, he said Emirati authorities wouldn’t allow it. “The world has changed,” Al-Shehhi said. “You have to change your mentality.”
news
07-04-2016
Center to redress grievances of Indian workers launched
JEDDAH — Indian Workers Resource Center (IWRC) was launched at the Consulate General of India here on Tuesday. The center is to to redress the grievances of Indians, especially blue-collared workers. During his recent visit to the Kingdom, Prime Minister Narendra Modi noted that the welfare of Indian community is amongst the top priorities of his government. The center at the consulate represents one such step in the realization of the vision of the government of India. The centre functions round-the-clock. Walk-in counters have been established and all urgent cases related to workers and formalities related to completion of death registration will be attended 24/7. The facilities of the center can also be utilized by email at iwrc@cgijeddah.com or by telephone numbers: 8002440003 (toll-free) and 012-2614093, a consulate press release said. Aggrieved Indian workers, distressed housemaids and others can visit the consulate or use one of the above mentioned means to register his/her grievances. The IWRC, inter-alia, will receive petitions/grievances and will provide feedback and status about the issues. The IWRC will also provide legal assistance to workers in deserving cases.
news
07-04-2016
KSA’s green card plan for expats welcomed
RIYADH: Saudi Arabia’s plan to issue permanent residence or “green cards” to foreign workers has been warmly welcomed by the expatriate community. In an interview with Bloomberg, Deputy Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman disclosed plans for issuing such cards similar to the US green card system that allows hiring more foreign workers for a fee. The plan will abolish the existing sponsorship system for holders, who will be required to pay zakat and value-added taxes, if any, besides premiums on insurance, etc. They can own property and undertake commercial, industrial and related activities. “The plan is very welcome for those living here for over 40 years. I would also suggest that naturalization be given to those who have at least one child willing to serve in the armed forces in any capacity,” said Amir Qayyum, a business development executive from India. “This is actually in recognition of the universal human rights of residency. We are glad to see the host government extending such a privilege to deserving expats,” said John Monterona, convener of the new OFW Forces Worldwide. A senior systems engineer at Tawuniya, Saleh Ampaso Bucay, who has been working here since 1992, described the move as a dream come true. “I am just like many other expatriates who have spent more than half of their lives in this country. All my children were born here. So it is really a great honor if this privilege of either permanent residence or a green card is granted to us,” Bucay observed. He added that as a Muslim, it will also be a great opportunity to work hand in hand with the citizens in developing the country and protecting it from the enemies of Islam. “I love this country and would like to die and be buried here,” he said. Gilbert G. Alarcon, senior ISO system auditor at Dar Arriyadh Consultants, said it is a good development as expats already consider Saudi Arabia their second home. “The feeling of acceptance in retrospect gives more meaning to an already fruitful partnership and cooperation between the citizens and expats.” Rey Eduard Quiblat Umel, an architect and a project engineer, termed King Salman’s wisdom and vision “very exemplary.” The Saudi-Philippine partnership will increase by leaps and bounds, boosting the development of their peoples, he said. “This will also help the Kingdom’s economy and increase its revenues. It will bolster their manpower without relying on oil,” said Jehad Zacaria Pangcoga, from the Philippines.
news
06-04-2016
Public bodies move to lay off expat workers – Measures seek to boost Kuwaitization, cut expenses
KUWAIT: Various ministries and government bodies have started taking measures towards reducing the number of expat employees in order to provide more job opportunities for Kuwaitis and cut expenses in the state’s budget. The measures are also meant to handle demographic imbalances that have so far resulted in limiting national manpower in the local market to less than 25 percent. In this regard, the education ministry has made a list of 450 expat teachers the ministry no longer needs pending terminating their contracts by the next school year. But Al-Qabas newspaper, quoting educational sources, said Education Minister Bader Al-Essa refused to sign the decision to terminate the teachers and instead postponed the issue until next year, bearing in mind that new schools will open soon. Meanwhile, the Public Authority for Applied Education and Training (PAAET) has decided not to accept expat students in its various colleges from the next academic year because those colleges’ capacity is only enough for Kuwaitis. Municipality Director Ahmed Al-Manfouhi has also decided to lay off 400 expat employees with the aim of cutting expenses. Notably, the ministry of social affairs and labor has banned recruiting any expat without direct approval from Minister Hind Al-Subaih. The ministry has also decided to lay off a number of expat employees working on a ‘pay for work’ basis. The ministry of communication, which has the least numbers of expat employees, is assessing the performance of some of them to be laid off and substituted by Kuwaitis. Kuwait Petroleum Corp has also instructed its subsidiary companies to sack expat secretaries working in the oil sector and make the ones needed to work through contractors. KPC has informed all CEOs to notify expat secretaries and make them choose between working through contractors or termination.
news
06-04-2016
Six Filipinas and a Nepalese arrested on prostitution charges
KUWAIT: Residency detectives arrested a woman for engaging in vice activities. Detectives received information about a Filipina woman who struck suspicious deals through social media, providing her customers with prostitutes. Six more women, Filipinas and Nepalese, were arrested in Hawally. In total, six of the women had article 20 visas issued to domestic helpers, and one had an article 18 visa issued to private sector workers. The women were sent to concerned authorities, and their sponsors were summoned for questioning. No injuries in fire Fire broke out in the ground floor kitchen of a Mangaf building. Mangaf, Fahaheel, Mubarak Al-Kabeer and backup fire stations responded to an emergency call reporting the fire. The blaze had started in a makeshift room used to store foodstuff. The fire was controlled before it could spread any further. No injuries were reproted.
news
06-04-2016
Salaries paid, 100 Filipino expats await repatriation
RIYADH: More that 100 overseas Filipino workers (OFWs) here are awaiting repatriation after their company cleared their dues and paid them end of service benefits recently. The Filipinos, along with a number of co-workers of other nationalities, had stopped working since December last year due to non-payment of salary, no food allowance, and non-renewal of Iqama. “They were paid by the Saudi Binladin Group last week and this is definitely good news, and now they are waiting for the exit visas,” said John Monterona, convener of the New OFW Forces Worldwide (OFW Forces). “For those who did not want to go home have opted for transfer to other employer; and once accepted will continue to work in the country.” According to Monterona, another group of 68 Filipino workers, mostly aluminum technicians, working for Saudi Binladin Group-Alumco (SBG-Alumco) at the Riyadh and Hofuf project sites, have stopped working due to alleged non-payment of salary, no food allowance and an expired residence card. “We have assisted the Filipinos and had a dialogue with the Philippine Overseas Labor (POLO) officials in Riyadh last week. A demand letter along with the list of the OFWs was sent to the SBG-Alumco management. We are waiting for the company’s response,” he said. Monterona said that if the company does not want to settle these workers’ legitimate demands, they will be filing a case with the Saudi labor court. “POLO is supplying food and water on a weekly basis, but it is not enough because of their large number. Hence, we appeal to the Filipino community to donate food and water,” he said.
news
05-04-2016
Trade in runaway maids is human trafficking
RIYADH: Trading in runaway domestic workers amounts to human trafficking and those found aiding or abetting it will face a prison term up to 15 years or fine up to SR1 million or both, a senior official of the Ministry of Labor warned Sunday. The ministry and the Public Security will prosecute those dealing in human trafficking as it is a clear violation of the residency rules of the Kingdom, said Mohammad Al-Falih, assistant undersecretary for inspection at the ministry. “Those using the social media for such purpose are being monitored, and the names of the violators will be submitted to the judiciary for appropriate action,” he was quoted as saying by local media. According to him, the number of runaways domestic workers was 50,521 and those absconding was 41,110 in 2014. Among them were 1,730 drivers and 2,353 maids, who were involved in various types of crimes. “Certainly, we are targeting and monitoring the media advertisements and social communication networks for trading in runaways,” he said, adding, “We spotted during the last period a number of such announcements.” Al-Falih said that after a thorough study, they found that such practice is considered human trafficking. The data has been forwarded to the anti-trafficking department at the ministry, from where it will go to the public security in order to complete the process of arrest warrant. “The ministry came across 68 cases during the past two months. They have been studied by the anti-trafficking department of the ministry and their names have been referred to the public security for action,” he added.
news
05-04-2016
No jobs for expats in HR, recruitment
RIYADH — The Ministry of Labor unveiled plans to restrict to Saudis all jobs related to human resources (HR) as well as positions in the departments dealing with hiring workers in the private sector. The ministry urged businessmen and employers in the private sector to join in the ministry’s decision making process by putting forward their opinions and suggestions pertaining to implementing its draft decision in this regard. They may post their opinions by April 23 in the section titled “Together for a decision” on the ministry’s portal at http://qarar.ma3an.gov.sa/a/ideas/recent/campaigns/16588 Naif Naytah, general supervisor of public affairs at the ministry, said the ministry will take the final decision in this regard after taking into consideration the opinions of employers in the private sector. “The ministry will take punitive measures against any private firms that allow foreigners to work in these jobs directly or indirectly. Fine amounting to SR20,000 will be slapped on firms that hire any foreigner to work in these trades, and the fines will be doubled with the number of foreigners hired for these jobs,” he said.
news
04-04-2016
UAE Job Search: New jobs to be added in first half of 2016 14% recruiters predict new jobs creation at top level for first half
Majority of recruiters believe more jobs will be added in the first half of 2016. More than 50 per cent of recruiters surveyed in a Naukrigulf Hiring Outlook, 2016 predicted new jobs to be created in the coming months. Last year in September, 53 per cent recruiters predicted the same about second half of 2015. According to the survey, 14 per cent recruiters are predicting new jobs creation at the top level for the first half of 2016 whereas this figure was 22 per cent for the second half of 2015. Talent crunch While there is a strong expectation of new jobs creation in the UAE, 64 per cent recruiters predicted that the talent crunch will continue in the next 6 months as compared to the second half of 2015. The results of the survey this year indicate that recruiters face maximum talent crunch when they hire for middle management levels and people of Asian origin by 35 per cent and 44 per cent respectively. For the second half of 2015, the data for middle level management (3-8 years) and people of Asian origin was 42 per cent and 79 per cent respectively. “The outlook for UAE’s job market is seeing a shift in expectation of new jobs creation in spite of the slump feared due to lower oil and trading revenues. With demand for specialist occupation outweighing supply, we are witnessing an increased talent shortage for recruiters which is expected to continue in the next 6 months. Overall, the job market looks positive but with a lower expectation of increments for the workforce,” said Tarun Aggarwal, Business Head- Naukrigulf.com. Attrition With growing number of employees not moving out to explore other opportunities, attrition levels in UAE are low. For the first half of 2016, 54 per cent employers said that they are enjoying single digit attrition rates and an increased number (63 per cent) of recruiters are expecting attrition levels to remain stable or reduce over the next 6 months. For the second half of 2015, 63 per cent employers enjoyed single digit attrition rates and more than 75 per cent expected attrition levels to remain stable or dip further. Increments Low single-digit pay hike was on the radar for most of the workforce in the UAE. Majority (78 per cent) employers gave out single digit increments for 2015 and for the year 2014, 77 per cent employers confirmed giving single digit increments.
news
04-04-2016
Filipina waitress sexually harassed
KUWAIT: A Filipina waitress filed a complaint at Salmiya police station, saying that an identified person in sportswear sexually harassed while serving him at a local restaurant. The waitress said that the suspect fled the restaurant when she screamed. Weapons found A citizen recently reported finding a weapon and some ammunition dumped in a garbage container in Kabd, said security sources. Police rushed to the scene and picked up the weapon and ammo. Search for bootleggers A number of men recently escaped arrest when a police patrol spotted them selling homebrewed alcoholic drigs in an open yard in Mahboula, said security sources. The suspects left behind a vehicle containing 55 liquor bottles. Drunk driving A female citizen was recently arrested for driving while drunk and insulating public officers while on duty. Case papers indicate that police patrol officers noticed that the suspect was driving in an unsteady course and when they stopped her, she smelled like liquor. The woman also insulted policemen and resisted arrest but was finally controlled, arrested and referred to relevant authorities
news
04-04-2016
King-Modi talks boost strategic partnership
RIYADH: Saudi Arabia and India on Sunday signed five major agreements, including one on terror financing, following wide-ranging talks between Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques King Salman and Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi. The talks between the two leaders focused on ways to expand strategic cooperation in a range of areas such as trade, investment and counter-terrorism. The king briefed Modi on his initiative in bringing together 34 countries to form a powerful Islamic military coalition to combat terrorism, as the two leaders agreed to strengthen cooperation in fighting the menace. Speaking on the occasion, King Salman pledged to look at other trajectories of bilateral ties that will eventually strengthen the strategic relations between the Kingdom and India. The king, while referring to the regional issues, said: “We appreciate India’s interest in the region as well as its keenness on supporting the stability of the Middle East.” He added: “We hope that the international efforts will finally resolve the Syrian crisis, and peace and security will also prevail in Yemen.” The two leaders expressed hope for achieving a just, comprehensive and lasting peace in accordance with the Arab Peace Initiative and the resolutions of international legitimacy, in a way that guarantees the legitimate rights of the Palestinian people, including the establishment of their independent, united and viable state with East Jerusalem as its capital. They expressed identical views on the whole range of bilateral and regional issues. Further in his speech, King Salman stressed the importance of continued cooperation and coordination with the Indian government in the field of counter-terrorism. “We are confident that our discussions will enhance cooperation in various fields in order to achieve a higher level in strategic partnership,” said the king, while referring to the growing relations between the two countries. Prime Minister Modi said the two sides have agreed to strengthen cooperation in combating terrorism, both at the bilateral level and within the multilateral system of the UN. The Indian premier, while applauding the role and initiatives of King Salman on regional and international levels, said, “New Delhi is keen to enhance relations with Riyadh in the fields of security, defense, and investment.” Referring to his talks with the king, the Indian prime minister said a range of topics of mutual concerns were raised during the delegation-level talks. “The Saudi government has agreed to look at the cases of Indian prisoners sympathetically and constitute a review mechanism with immediate effect,” tweeted Modi after the talks. He said that he took up with King Salman the cases of Indians, who are serving sentences for minor offenses. Modi also expressed his sincere gratitude to the king for the warm welcome and gracious hospitality. The king hosted a ceremonial red carpet welcome for the Indian premier amid beats of drums and melodious musical rendition of the national songs of India and Saudi Arabia. Referring to the agreements signed by the two sides, Vikas Swarup, spokesman of the Indian Ministry of External Affairs, said:, “The two countries reached five accords on Sunday, the final day of Modi’s visit to Riyadh. They include a memorandum of understanding (MoU), which was signed between the financial intelligence units of the two countries on cooperation in exchange of intelligence related to money laundering, terror financing and related crimes. Another agreement was signed by Invest India and Saudi Arabian General Investment Authority (SAGIA) which spells out the framework for investment promotion cooperation. A labor agreement was also signed for recruitment of general category workers from India. The fourth agreement was signed between India’s Export Promotion Council for Handicraft (EPCH) and the Saudi Commission for Tourism & National Heritage on an executive program for cooperation in the field of handicrafts. Another important accord that calls for technical cooperation between the two countries was signed between the Bureau of Indian Standards (BIS) and Saudi Standards, Metrology and Quality Organization (SASO). “These agreements will go a long way in boosting strategic relations,” said a Saudi official. “Examining the strengthening of the strategic partnership, the king and the prime minister led delegation level talks,” Swarup tweeted. The
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01-04-2016
Workers suffer in Saudi as Hariri firm falters
RIYADH: He’s had no salary for six months, he cannot pay his children’s school fees and his permit to reside in Saudi Arabia has expired. But Robert still holds out hope that things might improve for him and thousands of other workers at Saudi Oger Ltd, the once-mighty construction giant led by Lebanon’s billionaire former prime minister Saad Hariri. Delayed receipts from a Saudi government whose oil revenues collapsed over the past two years have left employees of the company struggling to survive while they wait to be paid, Robert and other sources say. Other contractors are also affected, but sources say problems at the 38-year-old Saudi Oger go deeper than the kingdom’s current economic strains. “Already when I worked at Saudi Oger there were delays in salary payments to local employees,” a former staffer told AFP. “It seems the situation got worse.” Saudi Oger employs around 50,000 people of various nationalities, from managers to labourers, and Robert said the salaries of nearly all have been delayed. But at six months without a pay cheque, he is among the longest-suffering. “I don’t have money,” he said. “It’s hard.” The veteran employee of Saudi Oger says he has “no choice” but to stay with the firm because he cannot find another job. Robert, whose name has been changed because he asked for anonymity, said the company promised in a letter that salaries will flow at the end of March. Poor management blamed “It’s a desperate situation,” a well-informed source said, describing expatriate families facing a similar plight to Robert’s. “They can’t pay for the tickets” to even fly home, the source said, adding that many senior officers of Saudi Oger support families in Lebanon, meaning remittances to that country will be affected. He also noted the impact on Saudi Oger’s lower-income workers. The informed source said poor management “is one of the main problems” at Saudi Oger, but this has been compounded by the economic challenges of a kingdom confronting a projected budget deficit of $87 billion this year. France’s embassy, concerned for the many French employees at the company, sent two letters to the firm, which responded with its promise to start paying the salaries. “The thing is, do they have the funds to keep their promises?” the informed source asked. “The group’s treasury has for a long time been badly run,” said a Lebanese businessman who works in the kingdom. Political tensions He said the plight of the Hariri family company raises two questions: “Will Saudi local banks continue to finance Saudi Oger, and secondly, will the Hariri clan manage to enlist an investor willing to provide new investment?” The Hariris have been a political and economic force in Lebanon for decades. Saad Hariri, whose political bloc is close to Saudi Arabia and the West, was catapulted into Lebanese politics 11 years ago after the assassination of his father Rafiq. Longstanding problems at Saudi Oger peaked as tensions escalated this year between Sunni-dominated Saudi Arabia and its Shiite rival Iran, which back opposing sides in wars in Syria and Yemen. Tehran also supports Hezbollah, the Shiite militant group leading a powerful Lebanese political bloc in opposition to Hariri’s faction. Riyadh has accused Hezbollah of exerting a “stranglehold” on the Lebanese state. “If Hariri can prove he is still useful, the Saudis may help him,” a Lebanese banker said. “But if not, they won’t.” Attempts to reach a Saudi Oger spokesman were unsuccessful. The company built some of the most grandiose complexes in Riyadh, including the palatial Ritz-Carlton hotel. Among its ongoing projects, Saudi Oger’s website lists a five-star hotel and office tower along with a monorail in the King Abdullah Financial District. Cranes perch, unmoving, atop more than two dozen towers that were nearing completion at the northern Riyadh project. In a business which is ultimately all tied to the government, construction projects have been “slowed down” and cash “is not coming in on time,” the contractor said. As he waits for his money to arrive, Robert does not have the air of a man who is beaten. He remains “somewhat positive” the company can take a “new direction”, and recalled with pride Saudi Oger’s projects like the Ritz-Carlton. “It was one of the best companies,” he said.
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01-04-2016
Amnesty International accuses Qatar of abusing WCup workers
DOHA: Qatar World Cup stadium workers have suffered abuse and been subjected to forced labor, Amnesty International said yesterday, for the first time alleging rights violations at a 2022 tournament venue. The London-based watchdog said laborers at the Khalifa International Stadium, mostly from Bangladesh, India and Nepal, were lied to over their salaries, went unpaid for months and were housed in squalid accommodation, which it claims amount to forced labor. Seven workers at the venue, which will also host the 2019 World Athletics Championships, were even prevented from returning home to help their families after Nepal’s devastating 2015 earthquake. “This is a World Cup based on labor exploitation,” said Amnesty’s Mustafa Qadri. The poor treatment of construction workers is one of the major issues that has dogged the Gulf state since the controversial decision to award it the right to host football’s flagship tournament. The 51-page report, “The Ugly Side of the Beautiful Game”, is likely to increase international criticism of Qatar and put fresh pressure on FIFA and its new leadership, as well as World Cup sponsors. The criticisms also extend to landscaping at the nearby Aspire Zone, a world-renowned sports complex where Paris Saint-Germain and Bayern Munich trained this year. Amnesty said it carried out its research for a year until February and interviewed 234 men. It claimed 228 said the wages they received were lower than promised. Many had no choice but to accept reduced salaries as they had paid debt-inducing recruitment fees of up to $4,300 to enter the Gulf, even though such fees are illegal under Qatari law. Qatar was uncharacteristically quick to respond to the report, pointing out the steps it has taken to improve practices. It said Amnesty’s claims painted “a misleading picture” and were aimed at only four of the 40 companies working at the Khalifa Stadium. ‘Like a prison’ One group of men told Amnesty that a labor supply company, Seven Hills, did not pay staff for months. Workers at the 40,000- seater stadium and Aspire Zone were also initially put in sub-standard and overcrowded accommodation, said Amnesty. “In one case, the main entrance road to the camp was flooded due to inadequate drainage and smelled of raw sewage,” the report said. Amnesty alleged most laborers had their passports unlawfully confiscated, and 88 men including Nepalese “were denied the right to leave Qatar”. One worker, Deepak, said life in Qatar was “like a prison”. “When I first complained… the manager said ‘If you complain you can but there will be consequences. If you want to stay in Qatar be quiet and keep working’,” he said. Amnesty recognized the tournament’s organizers, the Supreme Committee for Delivery and Legacy, had introduced safeguards, but urged Qatar to “fundamentally reform” its “kafala” sponsorship system, which restricts job changing or leaving the country. Its report also criticized FIFA’s “lack of meaningful action” Qatar defends record Supreme Committee chief Hassan Al- Thawadi admitted abuses occur and organizers did not “have a magic wand that could fix the matter” but said the commitment to reform was “clear and steadfast”. He reiterated that no workers had died on World Cup projects and said relevant reforms had been introduced to address concerns raised by the report, even before the committee knew about it, he said. These included wage protection, improved accommodation, and sanctions against companies named in the report including the termination of Seven Hills’ contract. “We have always maintained this World Cup will act as a catalyst for change it will not be built on the back of exploited workers,” the committee said in a statement.
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01-04-2016
Residency transfer after 3 years without the employer’s consent – Speaker says proposed power charges ‘very high’
KUWAIT: The Public Manpower Authority yesterday issued a new decision allowing expatriate laborers to transfer their residencies to other employers without the prior approval of their employers after three years of employment. This means that expatriates will be able to change their employers after serving for three years without the need to have their approval. Until now, transfer of residence permits is linked with the approval of current employers or after proving unfair treatment and non-payment of salary to the Authority. The transfer of residence permits in Kuwait and other Gulf states is governed by the so-called sponsorship or Kafeel system under which the employers have the upper hand in deciding the destiny of their foreign employees. The three-year decision appears to be the first step towards easing the controls of the kafeel system which Gulf states have pledged to abolish to international human rights organizations. In another development, National Assembly Speaker Marzouk Al- Ghanem said yesterday that the government- proposed electricity charges are “very high” adding that the Financial Committee and lawmakers have other proposals. Speaking to reporters after meeting with a delegation of Moody’s ratings agency, the Speaker said the National Assembly plans to study the new charges and government’s economic reforms in the next session on April 12. Ghanem said that the National Assembly will only vote on the power charges as approved by the Financial Affairs Committee which will spare low income sections and those who rationalize consumption from the increases. The Financial Affairs Committee is scheduled to discuss the draft law for new power charges on Sunday and its head MP Faisal Al-Shaye said the panel has different plans to reduce the government proposals. The government proposed to raise electricity charges by several-folds, especially for apartments inhabited mostly by expatriates. It was not immediately known if MPs will reduce the government proposals for citizens and expatriates as well. Several lawmakers have already criticized the government proposals saying it will constitute a major burden on consumers. Ghanem said that the Assembly will also discuss the grilling against Commerce and Industry Minister Yousef Al-Ali on April 12.
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31-03-2016
Kuwait signs $2.9 billion gas facility deal with Korean firms
KUWAIT CITY: Kuwait has inked a $2.93 billion contract with three South Korean firms for the construction of the largest Liquefied Natural Gas (LNG) import facility in the oil-rich country. The project, to be built at the Al-Zour refinery near the border with Saudi Arabia, was awarded to Hyundai Engineering Co., Hyundai Engineering & Construction Co. and Korea Gas Corporation. Kuwait National Petroleum Co. CEO Mohammad Al-Mutairi, who signed the contract, said the project is slated to be completed in the first quarter of 2021. Kuwait is rich with crude oil but its natural gas production is too small to meet its needs. Every year it imports large LNG quantities to supply power plants, especially during the summer, and for use in the petrochemicals industry. The facility will be part of a huge complex being built in Al-Zour, south of Kuwait City, which will also house a state-of-the-art 615,000 barrel-per-day refinery and a petrochemicals plant. Mutairi said the cost of the complex is expected to reach $30 billion. In October, Kuwait awarded contracts worth $13.2 billion to 10 international firms to build the refinery, which is set to come on stream in late 2019. In 2014, the emirate gave out contracts for a $12 billion project to upgrade two of its three existing refineries. Kuwait sits on 101.5 billion barrels of crude reserves — equivalent to around 7.0 percent of the world’s proven reserves, according to the latest OPEC figures — and pumps around 3.0 million barrels per day.
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31-03-2016
Explosions hit Yemen's Aden, 25 killed...
Sanaa: Three explosions rocked Yemen's temporary capital of Aden on Friday evening, leaving 25 people killed and several others injured, a security of...
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31-03-2016
Noted writer and journalist Babu Bharadwaj passes away...... Read more at: http://english.mathrubhumi.com/news/kerala/noted-writer-and-journalist-babu-bharadwaj-passes-away
Kozhikode: Eminent writer and journalist Babu Bharadwaj passed away at a private hospital here on Wednesday. He was 68. Bharadwaj was undergoing treat...
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31-03-2016
Free SIMs handed out to arriving expats
RIYADH: The Labor Ministry has been handing out free pre-paid SIM cards to arriving expatriate workers here. When Indian expatriate Mohammad Arshad arrived at King Khalid International Airport recently, a ministry employee took him to a counter set up by the Saudi Telecommunications Company (STC). Officials at the counter briefed him on the laws of the country and his rights and duties and then handed him his free card, which is part of the ministry’s new service for arriving expatriates, according to a report in a local publication on Wednesday. Last week, the ministry launched the service, which is a partnership between STC and the General Authority for Civil Aviation. The service includes a brochure on workers’ rights and obligations and how to seek assistance from the ministry when in distress. The SIM cards are made available in several foreign languages, and will help workers communicate with their missions and loved ones back home. The idea is to make workers feel safe and comfortable during their stay in the Kingdom, the ministry said. Other features include free minutes for local and international calls and text messages. Workers can contact the customer service number 19911 for any assistance required from the government. The program will be launched at other international gateways to the Kingdom in the coming weeks
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30-03-2016
Minister of Labor responds to 61 calls
RIYADH — The Minister of Labor responded to 61 video calls from clients and dealt with their issues personally. A source from the Ministry of Labor said the ministry has offered a new service which enables clients to directly call the head office of the ministry and sometimes speak to the minister directly. “The ministry received a total of 569 requests for video calls from all over the Kingdom; 61 of them were forwarded to Minister of Labor Mufrij Al-Haqbani. Most of the requests, 190, came from Riyadh,” said the source. About 160 requests also came from Makkah. “The Eastern Province had 95 requests. Depending on the request itself, some requests were dealt with by the labor director of the province, some requests were dealt with by the deputy minister and some requests had to go to the minister directly,” said the source. He also said the ministry has 60 offices in the various provinces. “The service was offered to facilitate the contact between the clients and the ministry and to deal with complaints and suggestions more quickly. The ministry still has other outlets that clients can use to contact the ministry,” said the source. The ministry’s customer service center landline is 19911. Clients can also reach the ministry through its Twitter account @mol_care or through its website www.mol.gov.sa. SOURCEOKAZ / SAUDI GAZETTE
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30-03-2016
20,000 Saudis to be trained to replace expat workers in cell phone sector
RIYADH — The Human Resources Development Fund (HADAF) and Technical and Vocational Training Corporation (TVTC) signed on Tuesday an agreement to train 20,000 Saudi men and women in the field of mobile phone sales, maintenance and customer service. Abdul Kareem Al-Nujaidi, director general of HADAF, and Ahmed Al-Fuhaid, governor of TVTC, signed the agreement at a ceremony held at TVTC headquarters in Riyadh. Under the agreement, HADAF will meet full expenses of the training and 50 percent of the salaries of the trainees when they take up jobs at mobile phone outlets. The Fund also will extend financial support to Saudi entrepreneurs in cooperation with the National Entrepreneurship Institute. It will also support owners of small mobile shops by providing them with a monthly amount of SR3,000 for a period of two years so as to enable them to run the shops successfully, the Saudi Press Agency reported. Trainees must be unemployed Saudis between the age of 18 and 60. Those who received similar training earlier are not qualified for the training. There are also provisions in the agreement to give training in the basic maintenance of mobile phones and programs for salesmen and saleswomen and customer service. They will also undergo advanced mobile phone maintenance training available at colleges and institutes under TVTC in various regions of the Kingdom. The Ministry of Labor has started implementing an intensive program for the total Saudization of all sales outlets and maintenance shops of mobile phones and their accessories within a period of six months. The ministry started implementing the new Saudization drive from March 10, and by this program all mobile phone sales and maintenance shops have to replace 50 percent of workers with Saudi men and women within three months, beginning from June 6 (Ramadan 1) and 100 percent within six months, starting from Sept. 3 this year. The Saudization drive is being implemented vigorously in cooperation with 10 government agencies, including ministries of labor, commerce and industry, municipal and rural affairs, and the Communications and Information Technology Commission (CITC).
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29-03-2016
Recruitment fee soars for maids from Bangladesh
DAMMAM — The fee for recruiting Bangladeshi expatriates through black market has skyrocketed and now stands between SR12,000 to SR14,000. A source from a recruitment office said the fee has spiked up by 50 to 70 percent excluding the SR2,000 for the visa itself. “The price increased by at least SR7,000. The fee in the black market for the recruitment of Bangladeshi maids only reflects the requirements of the recruitment office in Dhaka. The official charges set by the Saudi Ministry of Labor is SR500 as recruitment fee only, which does not suffice the operation costs of the entire process,” said the source. The source also said many recruitment offices try to cheat the system. “The Ministry of Labor has set a period of 60 days to recruit the expats. If the recruitment office did not recruit an expatriate within that period the office will be fined. In response, many offices begin all of the paperwork for the visa early on but sign the contract of recruitment with the worker during the last few days,” said the source. The source also said the penalty of delayed recruitment has led many recruitment offices to take in less applications. “Offices used to receive 200 to 300 applications a month. They now receive only 40 to 50 applications a month. Offices are also pressured to submit all of their contracts for the coming period by June. The source said there has been a demand to open recruitment offices for other countries, especially African ones. “There have been reports that recruitment offices are contracting with Niger, Eritrea and Kenya again. Nothing is certain, we will hear of any new updates or clarifications by April,” said the source.
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29-03-2016
New center receives 1,890 cases of domestic violence
JEDDAH — The new domestic violence reporting center has received 1,890 domestic violence reports during the first three days of its opening, the Ministry of Social Affairs has said. Deputy Minister of Social Affairs for Social and Family Care Abdullah Al-Muaiqil said the center opened on Sunday of last week and it was already bombarded with calls. “Forty-nine percent of the calls were reporting new cases, 12 percent were inquiring about previous reports and 20 percent were seeking consultancy. Nineteen percent of the calls were to inquire about the services the center offers,” said Al-Muaiqil. He also said 916 of the cases during that period were newly reported. “Two hundred thirty-three of the calls were inquiries about previously reported cases and their updates. Calls seeking consultancy were 374 while 367 of the calls were inquiring about the services the center offers. These numbers show that domestic violence and abuse is indeed a widespread phenomenon in our society,” said Al-Muaiqil. He added the center is open to receive calls 24 hours of the day and in all days of the week. “The center targets women of all ages and children below the age of 18. The center also targets the elderly and individuals with disabilities. There are 22 social protection teams available in all provinces in the Kingdom. Their role is to protect victims of abuse and violence,” said Al-Muaiqil. He also said the Ministry of Social Affairs cooperates with a number of other ministries including interior, education, health, justice, the Bureau of Investigation and Public Prosecution, the Human Rights Commission and the National Human Rights Society. “The ministry is also cooperating with other directorates to tackle child abuse such as the ministries of labor and municipal and rural affairs and the General Presidency of Youth Welfare and the National Committee for Childhood,” said Al-Muaiqil. He also said the Ministry of Social Affairs is working on putting in place legislations to protect victims of domestic violence and to also prevent domestic violence
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29-03-2016
No passport services without fingerprinting
RIYADH – The Directorate General of Passports (Jawazat) announced on Monday that all passport services for those expatriates who failed to register their biometric fingerprinting details have been stopped. “No computer services will be available for those who did not take their fingerprinting at the Jawazat offices across the Kingdom,” the directorate said in a statement. The directorate urged the expatriates who have so far not registered their biometric details to soon approach the nearest Jawazat offices to undergo the procedures as a last chance. The Jawazat has been implementing a new rule on biometric fingerprint enrollment for expatriates who are living with their families in the Kingdom in a phased manner. According to the directive, it is mandatory for dependents of expatriates, including women and children above the age of six, to have their fingerprints taken at its offices across the Kingdom. Recently, the Communications and Information Technology Commission (CITC), the Ministry of Interior, and the security agencies imposed a strict new regulation on telecommunication subscribes and new SIM card mobile phone users to register their biometric fingerprints in a mobile SIM information system as a national security measure
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28-03-2016
255 new recruitment offices issued license
RIYADH — The Ministry of Labor has issued 255 new licenses for domestic labor recruitment offices. The move is aimed at creating a competitive market that provides options to meet the needs of people wishing to recruit domestic workers. Sources said the ministry was planning to open new channels of recruitment for domestic workers with Asian countries, in addition to countries that have already signed agreements with the ministry. They said the ministry began issuing licenses to offices and corporate recruitment agencies from last month and was still receiving requests for licenses. The Ministry of Labor has allowed over 330 offices and recruitment firms across the country to start working through Musaned portal, which manages the affairs of domestic workers. The Kingdom has previously signed agreements for the supply of domestic workers with the Philippines, India, Sri Lanka, Indonesia, Vietnam, Nepal, Niger, Djibouti, Bangladesh and Chad.
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28-03-2016
Labor Ministry insists on 100% feminization in women shops
JEDDAH — The Ministry of Labor is insisting on 100 percent feminization of all positions in retail stores selling women’s accessories in major cities of the Kingdom, according to a ministry source. He said the ministry cooperates with the Ministry of Municipal and Rural Affairs to enforce the decision. The source said the two ministries are in the third phase of the drive to feminize of women’s retail sector. “The third phase was supposed to start last October and this month was supposed to be dedicated to the feminization of women shops in small governorates. The plan was delayed as there were many adjustments that needed to be completed in order to feminize many of the shops,” said the source. The source also said the ministries have defined the products sold as women’s accessories in those shops. “The ministries have listed perfumes, mother care products, women’s clothes, shoes, bags and purses, socks and tights and ready-to-wear clothes as products to be sold exclusively in women’s shops. Many women retailers have requested the Ministry of Labor to extend the feminization deadline to give them a chance to renovate the workplace to make them suitable for women staff,” said the source. He also said the business owners were not ready to hire women in their shops as the shops did not meet the safety and privacy requirements for women’s work environment set by the Ministry of Labor. The labor offices in various governorates have cooperated with the corresponding municipalities to run inspection campaigns on women’s shops to ensure that the business owners comply with the regulations and hired women to work in these shops, said the source. He also said business owners have expressed their view that feminizing kiosks in street markets is posing as a challenge due to the unsafe work environment. “Some owners have also expressed that some businesses are startups that do not have budgets to hire fully committed female workers. These businesses can be shut down if the Ministry of Labor does not excuse them,” said the source. He said the Ministry of Labor insisted 100 percent feminization of all positions, including managerial jobs, in women’s retail sector. “Men are prohibited from working in the sector. The Ministry of Labor has set penalties, including fines reaching up to SR50,000, closing down the business or both depending on the violation,” said the source.
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24-03-2016
‘Wanted’ notices for human traffickers
‘Wanted’ notices for human traffickers. Wanted notices for 11 people suspected of being part of an alleged human trafficking
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24-03-2016
Jeddah Indian Community group honors Jaber Patel
JEDDAH — Jeddah Indian Community, an amalgamation of many social, sports, cultural & welfare outfits in the city, organized a felicitation reception to honor two visiting Indian social reformers from Indo-Arab Friendship Foundation — Jaber Patel, president, and Ateeq Siddiqui, general secretary. Patel, thanked the community for organizing this special event and said he has come here to explore business avenues between Kingdom and India, especially in the newly formed southern state of Telangana. “In my personal capacity I will definitely highlight some of core issues that include the Waqf property of the late Nizam of Hyderabad, Patel said, adding, “No-doubt myself and my father are associated with the oldest nationalist political party of India, but we never divide the society in lines of political outfits. To me development and progress of the nation counts most rather than polarizing the society and letting it fall into the hands of vested interest.” Advising Muslims to shun differences, Patel said, “We need to focus on increasing our representation irrespective of any political outfits, at the national, regional and local levels and to withstand the forces that make India weak.” Siddiqui highlighted the achievements of the “Society” since its inception. He said: “We were successful in many ventures and our prime objective is to bring the two traditional cultures of India and the Arab world into one, for this we have striven to bring many heads of the Afro-Arab countries and shared common interest.” Aijaz Ahmed Khan, the head of many social, cultural and sport organizations, described the visiting dignitaries as the most noncontroversial personalities whose purpose is to bring all political parties on one platform and to draw attention towards the grievances of the society in order to redress it in the best manner. Advocating the policy of mutual interest and peaceful coexistence and at the same time respecting every faith and culture, Aijaz said the community should definitely support such elements. Saber Patel, father of the president of Society, also shared the dais with a few Urdu couplets of Allama Iqbal’s poetry. Recalling his past glorious period with many high-ranking officials, he said many national leaders regardless of their affiliations have visited him at his hometown of Zaheerabad district. “I have given them the best advice and they have reciprocated my sentiments and as a result when Congress party was on the decline in the late seventies I supported many leaders including Ms. Indira Gandhi to fight her elections from the Medak district and she surprisingly triumphed with a big majority.” Others who shared the dais were Mohammed Shameem Kausar, who praised the efforts of both the young stalwarts and said the community is proud of their achievements. While echoing his sentiments Mohammed Sayeeduddin, head of engineering forum, said: “I consider you both as a full-fledged team of 11 players in the field of social reforms.” Mirza Qudrath Nawaz Baig, Gazanfar Ali Zaki and a host of others also spoke on the occasion, at the end there was question and answer session. A standing ovation was given to veteran Saber Patel who is a recipient of a Golden Mango by the then Chief Minister of Andhra Pradesh Chandra Babu Naidu. Earlier the program commenced with the recitation of verses from the Holy Qur’an by Qari Mohammed Noor, followed by Naat or eulogy by Ameenuddin Ansari. Two plaques were presented, one by Aijaz Ahmed Khan to Jaber Patel and the other by Shameem Kausar to Ateeq Siddiqui. Flower bouquets and shawls were also presented to the dignitaries on the dais by Mahmood Ali, Rafat Shah, Mirza Qudrath Nawaz Baig and the host of the program Mohammed Jabbar. The program was well moderated by the President of Telangana NRI’s Forum Mohammed Jabbar and the vote of thanks was proposed by Syed Rafat Shah.
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23-03-2016
Court rejects complaint against Labor Ministry
RIYADH: The Fourth Circuit of the Administrative Court issued a ruling rejecting two cases filed against the Ministry of Labor in Riyadh by the Majid Alhaqas Recruitment Office, regarding the ministry’s decrees number 3207 and 3208, through which the ministry sought to protect the interests of citizens. Ministerial Decree No. 3207 stipulates a maximum period of 60 days to bring domestic workers to the Kingdom, with 25 percent of the cost of recruitment paid up front and the remaining payment after the notation of the passport of the worker by the Saudi embassy in their respective country. A fine for delay is to be paid by the recruitment office of SR100 riyals for each day of delay. Ministerial resolution No. 3208 determines the cost of the salaries of domestic workers from some countries. The decrees issued by the Ministry of Labor aim to improve and develop the domestic labor market, by adjusting recruitment costs and durations in order to control the amount of money paid by the citizen; improve the performance of the market; increase competitiveness; activate the role of overseas offices; reduce delays in domestic employment; and uphold obligations stipulated in the agreements signed with states.
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23-03-2016
Bonded laborers in India brick kilns slowly learn they have rights
KARJAT, India— Thousands of brick kiln workers in India’s western Maharashtra state are learning from activists that they have the right to a minimum wage, basic amenities and fair treatment — but remain in debt bondage to owners who deny them these rights with impunity. The workers are largely landless Adivasi tribals who are forced to work at the kilns for half the year to pay off their debt. Entire families may work up to 14 hours a day for low or no wages, few amenities, no days off, and with no idea of how much money they still owe, activists said. “The government, the police think bonded labor is when someone is tied up in chains or locked inside a room. They don’t even acknowledge that these workers are bonded,” said Ashok Jangale, director of community organization Disha Kendra in Karjat near Mumbai. “We tell the workers they have a right to be paid, to not be beaten or abused, to have time off, to send their kids to school,” said Jangale. India is home to almost half the world’s 36 million slaves, according to the 2015 Global Slavery Index compiled by the Australia-based Walk Free Foundation. Many Indians are duped into offering to work in farms, brothels and small businesses as security against a loan they have taken or a debt they have inherited. This is especially common in the construction industry, particularly in the unregulated sectors of brick making and stone quarrying. “The kilns themselves are mostly illegal, so keeping track of them is hard and they keep no records,” said Chandan Kumar, ActionAid’s national coordinator for the Bonded Labor Eradication Program. “There’s a lot of trafficking and bonded labor in the industry, but it is a profitable business and owners are usually politically connected, so the authorities turn a blind eye,” he said. There are no official figures on the number of people employed to cut, shape and bake clay-fired bricks, mostly by hand, in tens of thousands of brick kilns in India. Most of the workers are illiterate, keep no records, are paid a pittance and do not know how long it will take to pay off their debt. Some take out extra loans, for festivals and weddings, even while repaying the original one. According to data compiled by the Centre for Science and Environment, at least 10 million people work in kilns, many located on the edge of towns and cities. At a kiln off the main road in Vanjarwadi village in Karjat, about 60 km from Mumbai, Ganesh Mukund said he had borrowed about 50,000 rupees ($750) from the owner and did not know how much he still owed. He said he had previously worked in a kiln where a worker was beaten so badly, his arm was broken. “When we hear about such instances, we investigate the matter and file a case with the police,” said Jangale. There may be up to five such cases a year, and there have even been instances of workers being killed, he said. “Although the police often put pressure on the workers to settle for some money, we tell the workers to persist,” he said. The state government appointed a vigilance committee in 2012 to check bonded labor after the deaths of several workers. A spokesman for the state’s labor department said it was still keeping watch for alleged cases of bonded labor. Earlier this month, 564 brick kiln workers were rescued in southern Tamil Nadu state in one of the largest such operations in the country. In Fansawadi village in Karjat, Rama Bai takes a break from shaping bricks to show an officer from Disha Kendra a small ruled notebook. It has daily logs since December, when the working season began, of the number of bricks her family made every day. Rama Bai borrowed 60,000 rupees ($900) for her daughter’s wedding three years ago, and a further 15,000 rupees for festivals, and agreed to work at the kilm to pay it off. She, her husband and their two sons have worked at the kiln during the December-May dry season for three years, making about 1,000 bricks a day — the quota set by the kiln owner. They do not know how much longer they will have to work there. “We have trained her son, who is literate, to keep a log and check the owner’s log,” said Jangale. “We tell them not to borrow so much money for festivals and weddings: they should know what is trapping them. And that when they have paid off what they owe, they have a right to leave.”
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22-03-2016
Oil employees reject ‘freezing’ salaries, cancelling privileges
KUWAIT: A possible pay dispute is brewing within Kuwait’s strategic oil sector, with Kuwait Petroleum Corporation (KPC) executives planning a freeze on salaries and the cancellation of economic incentives, bonuses and privileges and energy sector staff staunchly rejecting such ‘rationalization’ efforts. Energy industry sources said that oil sector employee syndicates have refused initiatives that would jeopardize oil sector employees’ privileges and rights that had been guaranteed by the law and treaties stipulated in KPC’s subsidiary companies’ charts. Notably, KPC’s executive administration had warned oil sector employees over the previous three days that the situation would be difficult if the rationalization initiatives, which cover both citizens and expat employees, were rejected and stressed that things were heading towards applying the payroll strategic alternative on both current and future employees. The government and parliament are currently working on a project to overhaul the payroll system in the public sector. The ‘payroll strategic alternative’ would set unified standards for employees’ promotions, salaries, bonuses, indemnities and other rights and privileges at all ministries and state departments. Debate is still ongoing on wither to include the oil sector under the new system’s coverage. It is not clear exactly how the ‘payroll strategic alternative’ would impact salaries. Temporary solutions In a related statement, the Engineers Syndicate stressed that rationalization decisions were nothing but ‘temporary solutions’ for the economic crisis that had been exaggerated by both the state and KPC without setting any fundamental solutions to diversify sources of income and increase the state’s GDP. However, in an escalation of the problems, the oil and petrochemicals employees’ union called for a rally for employees to be held at 6:00 pm on March 22 at the union’s headquarters. It explained in a statement that it would brief employees during the rally with the latest developments, discuss the best ways to fight and reject imposing the payroll strategic alternative project and express rejection of conditioned initiatives that affect employees’ rights and privileges. Meanwhile, oil sources stressed that KPC adopts over 100 initiative to cut down expenses over the upcoming few years expecting to save around KD 370 million through cutting down energy consumption, reducing operational and consultancy expenses, restructuring contracts to get ones with better prices, providing high cash assets and doing away with non-profiting oil activities. Further, the sources said that KPC would stop self-funding in coming years and mainly rely on mixed funding from banks. “Such steps had already been used in the clean fuel project as local and foreign banks will fund 70 per cent of its budget,” stressed the sources, noting that KPC plans to follow further 28 initiatives on the long run that are expected to save KD 727 million, especially since it had already succeeded in saving KD 270 million up till December 2015. —Al-Anbaa
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22-03-2016
45,000 work visas for clean fuel project
KUWAIT: Deputy CEO for Projects at Kuwait National Petroleum Company (KNPC) Abdullah Al-Ajmi pointed out the importance of reducing costs and increasing work efficiency. He expressed intentions to help realize that after assuming his new post by achieving more integration between the three projects under him: the clean fuel project, the project circuit 1 and the project circuit 2. He said the current structure at the projects’ sector is enough to run projects today and during the next three years, adding that 50 percent of the clean fuel project will be completed by the end of March. Ajmi said that by April 13, 24 months would have elapsed on the strategic project’s signing. “This reflects our success in going on with the plan as we prepare to go ahead with the construction stages after completing the engineering works this month,” he said. Ajmi said purchase operations of material and equipment are going on as planned, adding that by the end of the month, two units of Italian boilers will arrive at Mina Abdullah refinery as part of a project to acquire six boilers for the refinery. He said the next major challenge is logistic. “We suffered during the period from September to December 2015 because of the lack of contractors’ ability to bring in workers for various reasons.” He added that “concerned government departments have shown good cooperation, including the Manpower Public Authority (MPA) and the health ministry, as well as services companies in India which contributed to the facilitation of bringing laborers into Kuwait.—Al-Rai
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22-03-2016
Expats face GOSI cuts if they stay abroad for over one month
JEDDAH: The General Organization for Social Insurance (GOSI) has revealed that it plans to suspend all services to expatriates if they are abroad for over a month, with reinstatement occurring only once they return. The organization had not yet worked out the manner in which this would occur, but talks were taking place with the Ministry of Interior, said Abdul Aziz Al-Habdan, GOSI’s deputy governor, during a briefing at the Eastern Province Chamber of Commerce and Industry recently. Al-Habdan was quoted as saying by a local publication that because of the large number of foreign workers in the country, the organization was working to introduce electronic services for companies and their employees. Currently 50 percent of subscribers conduct their transactions in person, he said. On the wage protection issue, Al-Habdan said that there were some employers registering workers earning less than they do in reality, in an attempt to pay less to the fund. This also affects eventual payouts to workers, he said. He dismissed reports that children of Saudi women married to foreigners do not benefit from the social insurance system, in reference to the decision taken by the government recently to include them as beneficiaries. Al-Habdan said that people taking early retirement was having a negative financial impact on GOSI. However, changes were in the pipeline to change this situation, he said. In response to the organization not disclosing and publishing its financial results, he said: “The rights of subscribers are guaranteed and maintained by the state. Our policy is heading toward further clarification and disclosure.” He said GOSI now covers 400,000 companies compared to 25,000 over 12 years ago, with 8.5 million workers, compared to 2 million going back over the same period. According to the GOSI website, the scheme covers workers in the private sector and a group of workers in public sector. It provides contributors and their families “with a decent life after leaving work due to retirement, disability or death; medical care for contributors afflicted with work injuries or occupational diseases; and compensation in the event of occupational disability or death.”
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21-03-2016
255 new recruitment offices issued license Mar 21, 2016 356 0
RIYADH — The Ministry of Labor has issued 255 new licenses for domestic labor recruitment offices. The move is aimed at creating a competitive market that provides options to meet the needs of people wishing to recruit domestic workers. Sources said the ministry was planning to open new channels of recruitment for domestic workers with Asian countries, in addition to countries that have already signed agreements with the ministry. They said the ministry began issuing licenses to offices and corporate recruitment agencies from last month and was still receiving requests for licenses. The Ministry of Labor has allowed over 330 offices and recruitment firms across the country to start working through Musaned portal, which manages the affairs of domestic workers. The Kingdom has previously signed agreements for the supply of domestic workers with the Philippines, India, Sri Lanka, Indonesia, Vietnam, Nepal, Niger, Djibouti, Bangladesh and Chad.
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21-03-2016
Minister gets in touch with workers through video call
JEDDAH — Labor Minister Mufarrej Al-Haqabani listened to complaints of workers from Makkah and Madinah through a virtual face-to-face meeting. The minister listened to their demands through video conferencing. The demands covered a wide range of issues. Haqabani instructed the departments concerned to look into the issues and solve them within a few days. The video call service was launched recently ensuring the importance of swiftly processing workers’ applications as per labor regulations. Haqabani emphasized that his ministry is keen to open doors to workers/employers as they can submit their complaints without having to travel or commute to Riyadh Headquarters. The Ministry of Labor launched the new service across the Kingdom so that workers and employers can remotely contact senior officials. The ministry also prepared 60 branches equipped with video calling technology. To utilize the service, workers or employers can remotely contact senior officials or the labor minister through the customer service No. 19911 and reserve an appointment for video conferencing. The service aims at allowing high-ranking officials at the ministry to contact workers/employers and address their complaints.
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19-03-2016
120 mobile shops found flouting rules in Riyadh
RIYADH: More than a hundred shops dealing in communication devices such as mobile phones were caught on the wrong foot during a crackdown by the Labor Ministry in the capital recently. The inspectors, led by Mohamed bin Fahd Al-Issa, director of the inspection department of the ministry, visited 174 markets and shops in eastern Riyadh, an online report said. A total 120 shops doing business in communications devices were found violating labor rules, Al-Issa was quoted as saying. He said eight shops dealing in women’s items were found to be violating the terms of employment A total of 20 workers were found to have been illegally hired, he said, adding that they were under the sponsorship of other employers. “Appropriate fines and punishment will be imposed on the erring parties.” Al-Issa said the inspection was conducted to remind both employers and employees that their operations are being monitored by the authorities. The raiding team included security officers and representatives from the Ministry of Commerce and Industry.
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19-03-2016
MoL invites feedback on ‘Balanced Nitaqat’
JEDDAH: With the Ministry of Labor’s keenness to share decision-making with stakeholders, the ministry has called upon labor parties and employers in the private sector to take part in improving the “Balanced Nitaqat” proposal, recently posted on Ma3an Qarar (Decision) website. Naif Naitah, general supervisor for public affairs at the ministry, said that the proposal opens avenues for stakeholders to provide their feedback before coming into force. It would improve decisions and regulations prior to its implementation. He clarified that the “Balanced Nitaqat” proposal aims at increasing Saudization efforts and rewarding facilities that achieve higher nationalization quotas. The program also adds quality factor in addition to quantity factor that deal with the achievement of Saudization goals. The program, after introducing such changes, takes into consideration both quantitative and qualitative factors as it addresses the needs of labor market. Naitah said that amending the program has five aspects including the Saudization percentage, average wages for Saudis, percentage of women employed in the facilities, national job sustainability and the average of those with higher wages. He emphasized that the ministry is keen on hearing all diverse comments that lead to the improvement of decisions before implementation. He urged stakeholders to review the proposal and comment through the link (http://qarar.ma3an.gov.sa). Ma3an Qarar is one of the Ma3an portal services that goes hand in hand with the government strategy to enhance governance at the Labor Ministry and its affiliates (the Human Resources Development Fund and Technical and Vocational Training Corporation and General Organization for Social Insurance) with the aim of developing their services.
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18-03-2016
Labor Ministry continues to receive feedback on ‘Balanced Nitaqat’ proposal
JEDDAH — As part of its keenness to share decision-making with stakeholders, the Ministry of Labor has called upon workers and employers in the private sector to take part in improving the “Balanced Nitaqat” proposal, recently posted on Ma3an Qarar (Decision). Naif Naitah, general supervisor for public affairs at the ministry, said the proposal opens new avenues for stakeholders to provide their feedback on the proposal before it comes into force. It will improve the decisions and regulations prior to implementation by the ministry, he added. Naitah clarified that Balanced Nitaqat aims at increasing Saudization efforts and rewarding facilities that achieve higher nationalization quotas. The program also adds quality factor in addition to the quantity factor that deal with the achievement of Saudization percentage as it measures how employment is effective, he pointed out. The program after introducing such changes takes into consideration both quantitative and qualitative factors while addressing the needs of labor market, he explained. Naitah said the amendment of the program has five aspects including the Saudization percentage, average wage for Saudis, percentage of women employed, job sustainability and the average of those with high wages. Naitah emphasized that the ministry was keen on hearing diverse comments that lead to the improvement of decisions before implementation. Ma3an Qarar is one of the Ma3an portal services that goes hand in hand with the government strategy to enhance governance at the Ministry of Labor and its affiliates (the Human Resources Development Fund and Technical and Vocational Training Corporation and the General Organization for Social Insurance) with the aim of developing their services.
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18-03-2016
Maids say Saudi men more tolerant than women
JEDDAH: Maids in the Kingdom say that Saudi men are more tolerant and patient than women citizens in terms of their household duties, according to a survey conducted by an online publication. Most of the 12 maids surveyed said that their male employers were more forgiving when they made mistakes, according to the report published on Thursday. Rahma, an Indonesian maid, said her woman employer often gets irritated and angry with her but calms down when her husband intervenes and asks her to be patient. Four of the maids who responded to the survey said that they are paid their salaries late, but said the men of the house treat them well, which was some form of compensation. Ameena, a Sri Lankan maid, said her employer has never paid her late and often gives her more money, particularly during Ramadan and Eid. When the maids were asked about racism or being treated as an inferior, 10 respondents said their men employers did not treat them in this manner. However, an Ethiopian maid said that she felt discriminated against, which she believes is due to her dark skin. In contrast, 10 of the maids surveyed said that the wives gave them too much work, while four said they were treated badly and often punished if they were not able to handle the workload. All of the maids said there was strict monitoring of cellphone use and leaving the house. Adel Befleh, a social worker, said it was natural for men and women Saudis to treat their maids differently. This is because Saudi women are in contact with their maids much longer than the men of the house. He said the maids had articulated part of the “complex” relationship between Saudi women and maids in their houses. “There are terrifying stories that maids tell about their employers, and of crimes committed by maids against their employers.” “Because of this complex relationship, one simply cannot know who is the oppressor and the oppressed,” he said. There were cultural differences at play in the relationship between employer and employee, he said. He said domestic workers come from underdeveloped societies where oppression and poverty is prevalent. When maids arrive in the Kingdom they experience culture shock, resulting in feelings of oppression, with a small minority attacking their employers. All parties should obey the country’s labor laws, he said. The Ministry of Labor last month issued a report stating that there were over 1.9 million men and women workers in the country at the end of 2015. Women made up 62.4 percent, about 1.2 million, and men 726,231. The term “domestic worker” in the Kingdom includes professions under the sponsorship of individuals, such as home nurses, house guards, private drivers, cooks, gardeners and maids.
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17-03-2016
15,000 jobs offered at 1st Saudi Job Creation Forum
RIYADH: Around 15,000 jobs were offered by 50 employers to young Saudis at the Saudi Job Creation Forum in its first edition and the accompanying job exhibition, organized by the Saudi Management Association (SMA) on Tuesday. The forum was inaugurated by Labor Minister Mufrej Al-Haqabani on behalf of Prince Saud bin Salman, the honorary president of the SMA. Addressing the opening ceremony, the minister thanked the SMA for organizing the forum that promotes job creation for Saudi youths to get into rewarding jobs. The chairman of the SMA, Dr. Nasir Al-Twaim, also addressed the forum, thanking both Deputy Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, second deputy premier and defense minister, and Prince Saud bin Salman for their generous support. He also extended his thanks to other members of the SMA for their generous support of money and time to promote the association. He in particular valued two honorary members of the SMA for their generous contributions to the forum. One was Sheikh Yousuf Al-Ahmadi, a businessman who pledged a 5,000sq.m piece of land in Makkah as an endowment to set up a training and recruitment center for Saudi youths to be run by SMA, in addition to SR1 million to meet the expenses of running the SMA headquarters. The other was Sheikh Abdulrahman Al- Ghammas who also pledged as an endowment a 5,000sq.m piece of land in Madinah to set up another training and recruitment center for young Saudis run by SMA. A tour by Arab News showed how enthusiastic Saudi youths were in searching for jobs, especially young women who were seen representing almost 50 percent of those who thronged to the exhibition in search of jobs during the two days of the exhibition. Displayed jobs were by government and private sector employers. They included hospital, IT developers, banks, training providers, consultancy firms, real-estate agencies, marketing companies, and factories. Speaking to Arab News, Dr. Al-Twaim, who is also professor of management ethics at King Saud University in Riyadh, mentioned that it “was a duty for us to organize this forum which is the first of its kind.” “Apart from being a duty, this forum comes in line with the government’s move to effectively act to create jobs, especially in light of having almost 11.7 percent unemployment among our work force, mostly of young people,” he said. “So, we have organized this exhibition on the sidelines of the forum to contribute in fighting unemployment … here we brought around 50 job providers under one roof so job seekers can meet them directly and to know each other face-to-face, and it also eliminates the hassle of commuting for these job seekers,” he added. “Also, we hope that it will give some insight to Job Creation Commission, which was newly approved by the Cabinet, to generate more jobs for Saudis in this era of transformation led by Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques King Salman, and commissioned by Deputy Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, in which bringing jobs to young Saudi is a top priority,” he further said.
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16-03-2016
Labor minister launches outreach service for incoming expat workers
RIYADH: The Ministry of Labor launched an expatriate outreach service at King Khaled International Airport (KKIA) in Riyadh on Tuesday to help new incoming expatriate workers to the Kingdom facilitate their successful stay in the Kingdom. Labor Minister Mufrej Al-Haqabani inaugurated the service in the presence of Director General of Passports Maj. Gen. Sulaiman bin Abdul Aziz Al-Yahya, Director General of King Khaled International Airport in Riyadh Abdul Aziz bin Saad Abu Harbah and Saudi Telecom Company (STC) CEO Dr. Khalid Bin Hussein Al-Bayari. The program inaugurated at KKIA will be launched at other international gateways to the Kingdom in the coming weeks. It is being carried out with the General Authority for Civil Aviation and the STC. Under the integrated service, every new incoming worker will be given a new free-of-charge SIM card for his mobile at a special counter at the airport. The SIM will contain a comprehensive awareness brochure to tell the expatriate worker of his rights, obligation, duties, legal information and also how to seek assistance from the Labor Ministry in case of distress. Making a brief speech at the launching ceremony, Al-Haqabani said that the SIM card will be in several foreign languages spoken by foreign workers. He said that service will also help the worker communicate with the Labor Ministry, his or her mission in the Kingdom and also relatives back in his homeland. The whole idea of the program is to set up an effective channel between the Ministry of Labor and the worker to make his stay happy and comfortable in the Kingdom. The service, the minister said, will be available on an around-the-clock basis to enable the incoming workers to avail themselves of the service. Other features include free minutes of local and international communications and text messages. The worker can contact customer service on the toll-free number, 19911, for any assistance which he might require from the government.
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15-03-2016
Riyadh records over 35,000 huroob cases
RIYADH: According to a recent report of its key achievements over the past year, the Riyadh Passport Department reported recording 35,661 cases of "huroob" (expat workers failing to report for work) last year. The department also deported 33,511 foreign workers for violating labor and residency laws, and made 2,952 administrative decisions punishing violators of the law. Additionally, the Anti-Forgery Department at the expatriate division considered 3,466 cases of forgery. These were among the department's greatest achievements in last year. The annual report of the Riyadh Passport Department, which was published by a local newspaper, also explained that the department released 5,115 expats after investigating them in different cases. The report said that the number of expats who left the Kingdom through King Khaled International Airport was 3.6 million, while about 2,584 of them were sent back from the airport due to their involvement in criminal cases. The number of arrivals through the same airport was 3.9 million expatriates. The report said that the number of Yemenis who corrected their status in Riyadh and the affiliated provinces was 93,966. Of them, 71,021 were in Riyadh, 7,024 in Karj, 5,610 in Wadi Aldawaser, 1,893 in Aldowadmi, 3,347 in Almujammah, 1,405 in Quieyiya, 1,024 in Shaqra, 1,652 in Darma and 990 in Zulfi. The department also undertook about 7 million transactions in total, according to the report, including issuing renewed Saudi passports, printing residency cards, issuing new passports, along with single exit/re-entry visas, multiple exit/re-entry visas, permanent exit visas, transfer of services and recording people's bio-fingerprints. A number of services were also extended to escorts, in addition to a range of other transactions. The department listed the opening of the new reception lounge and passport issuance hall in Riyadh, the inauguration of a passport branch office in Malaz, the launching of the Passport Department at the Ministry of Interior and expanding the women's department in Riyadh among its major achievements of the year. The report said that the department issued new passports for approximately 100,000 citizens, of which women accounted for 51,000.
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15-03-2016
SR15,000 fine for overstayer and sponsor
RIYADH: The government will impose a penalty of SR15,000 each on the sponsor and visitor who overstays his visa in the Kingdom. Gen. Sulaiman Al-Suhaibani, Riyadh Region director of passports, said that such a host will be prevented from traveling abroad, and the overstaying visitor will not be allowed to enter the Kingdom for three years from the time of his last departure. Al-Suhaibani explained that it is the responsibility of the host to see that his visitor leaves before his visa expires, and at the same time, he added, the visitor also is liable for punishment since staying here after visa expiration is a violation of law. A visitor to the Kingdom is normally given a month’s entry visa. However, this can be extended on a request made by the sponsor who can process the extension on payment of a nominal fee. Business visas are issued to foreign businessmen depending on their needs and on the recommendation of local sponsors. Haj and Umrah visas are not extended unless on medical grounds.
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15-03-2016
SR15,000 fine for overstayer and sponsor
RIYADH: The government will impose a penalty of SR15,000 each on the sponsor and visitor who overstays his visa in the Kingdom. Gen. Sulaiman Al-Suhaibani, Riyadh Region director of passports, said that such a host will be prevented from traveling abroad, and the overstaying visitor will not be allowed to enter the Kingdom for three years from the time of his last departure. Al-Suhaibani explained that it is the responsibility of the host to see that his visitor leaves before his visa expires, and at the same time, he added, the visitor also is liable for punishment since staying here after visa expiration is a violation of law. A visitor to the Kingdom is normally given a month’s entry visa. However, this can be extended on a request made by the sponsor who can process the extension on payment of a nominal fee. Business visas are issued to foreign businessmen depending on their needs and on the recommendation of local sponsors. Haj and Umrah visas are not extended unless on medical grounds.
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14-03-2016
Passport Department opens drive-in service outlet for the handicapped
RIYADH: Gen. Sulaiman Al-Yahya, director general of the Passport Department, on Sunday inaugurated the outlet for drive-in services for the handicapped at Riyadh Passport Office (RPO). Following the inauguration, which was attended by top officials of both the PD and RPO, Al-Yahya toured the headquarters of RPO to see those areas which serve citizens and residents as well. During the tour, Al-Yahya met many citizens and listened to their remarks, complaints and suggestions. He ordered some of the problems to be solved on spot, and asked all who have suggestions or unsolved complaints not to hesitate to approach him in person or via e-mail, social media, and ordinary mail letters. Speaking to journalists, Gen. Sulaiman Al-Suhaibani of the RPO, said: “People with disabilities are our brothers and a important segment of our society and we should take care of them. This is according to the teachings of our great religion of Islam, and orders of our leadership, in particular Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques King Salman and Crown Prince Mohammed bin Naif, to make all citizens and residents happy by providing them the best services we can. “This drive-in outlet for the disabled is the first-of-its-kind in the Kingdom and was set up with direct supervision from Gen. Al-Yahya. I hope other passport offices follow suit in setting up similar outlets to serve this segment of our society. “The outlet is still in its pilot stage and we will see how it works and to what extent people with disabilities can benefit from it. Once it proves to be totally successful, similar outlets will gradually be set up in other passport offices around the Kingdom.” Al-Suhaibani said that this outlet is part of the overall efforts by the government to make its public serving premises accessible by persons with disabilities. “The outlet for the handicapped here is was designed to service the disabled while they are in their vehicles. They just go into the drive-way and stop next to the serving window. Then well-trained and qualified personnel, provided with modern office equipment, will be at their services,” he said. He mentioned that this new outlet will complement online services provided to all citizens and residents, including those with disabilities. “Sometimes people with disabilities need to be present in person, so we set up this outlet to provide them with services as hassle-free as possible,” he pointed out. What's happening around Saudi A
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14-03-2016
New e-services, iqama for five years hailed 
RIYADH: Citizens and expat workers are upbeat about the electronic services introduced recently for government-related transactions such as issuance or renewal of the new five-year iqama (residence card), work permits, driving licenses and exit and re-entry visas for them or their dependents. Adel Hanafi, vice president of the Union of Egyptian Workers, said the new facilities have tremendously minimized paper work and saved time as it is no more required to go to the passports department. He appreciated the efforts of the Saudi government to support the residents and make their lives more easy. Mahmoud Talaat, an IT manager, said the new-five year iqama is more useful for him as he suffers from stopping his bank account until the renewal of the iqama). A female school teacher said she was hoping that the new iqama would give her and her family a free pass to travel to all GCC countries without having to take exit visa, which, she said, used be irritating if someone wanted to go on short vacation. Nagwa Mousa, a quality control consultant, also hailed the five-year iqama rule because she won’t have to renew it every year now. She also expects the new iqama will allow her to visit Gulf countries on a short vacation without having to obtain an exit visa. A foreign journalist appreciated the pace of e-service development in the Kingdom. “Saudi Arabia has outperformed developed countries in the field of e-services
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14-03-2016
Kin want death for killer maid
RIYADH: The relatives of the Saudi woman and her daughter killed by their Moroccan maid last week have called for the application of the full force of the Shariah law against the killer. “Our only demand is that laws prescribed by Allah should be fully enforced,” said the woman’s son. “The maid had already confessed to her crime.” According to a report, the Moroccan maid, who had worked for the family for two months, killed the woman, a mother and her daughter, and then attempted to flee. Upon seeing the maid fleeing with blood-stained clothes, the neighbors reported the matter to the police. The maid was questioned and she confessed to the crime. Legal counsel Ahmed Al-Juhaimi said the case would go to the Bureau of Investigation and Prosecution after investigation, and then to the Criminal Court, then to the Appeals Court and then to the Supreme Court.
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14-03-2016
Labor Ministry to go after brokers who manipulate recruitment prices
JEDDAH: The Ministry of Labor will prosecute brokers who violate the recruitment and domestic labor laws by manipulating prices. A ministry spokesman was quoted in the local media as saying that the ministry was working to stop unlicensed recruitment offices, and would take punitive action against all such market manipulators. He said that there was ongoing coordination between the ministry and Saudi embassies and consulates abroad to identify the offices that send domestic workers to the Kingdom. The government wants to ensure that the offices in foreign countries follow all the applicable regulations. He added that there was ongoing cooperation with the Foreign Ministry to register and take legal action against those who violate the domestic recruitment laws, adding that the Foreign Ministry was in the process of following up with the concerned parties which involves the inspection of recruitment companies and offices where licenses may be suspended for illegal behavior. Yahiya Al-Maqboul, chairman of the Recruitment Committee at the Jeddah Chamber of Commerce and Industry (JCCI), said that the recruitment rates in some countries were overestimated because of brokers who hike up prices to unprecedented levels. He admitted that prices have increased in various countries such as Vietnam, and added that the recruitment cost from that country is no more than $4,000, equivalent to SR15,000, despite some brokers charging fees much higher. Regarding recent accusations against members of the National Recruitment Committee, he said: “The committee was dissolved last year because of differences between the members which led to resignations. The accused members should come out and state their positions regarding price hikes.” He called on citizens not to work with dishonest brokers. One recruitment office owner said that it was shameful that these brokers had made their work harder; he called for greater organization within the sector. A top official at the Council of Saudi Chambers (CSC) confirmed that the work of the National Recruitment Committee was halted in May 2015, and that it is now the Labor Ministry which is handling recruitment files and that he hoped that all problems in the recruitment system would be solved.
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12-03-2016
MOL to train Saudis in technological fields
RIYADH – The Ministry of Labor is set to enroll young Saudis in four vocational and technological programs in the telecommunications sector, Saudi Press Agency (SPA) said Thursday. The ministry has taken the decision in view of the recent announcement to Saudize the telecommunications sector in partnership and in cooperation with the ministries of commerce and industry, municipal and rural affairs and communications and information technology. The training program will be carried out through the Technical and Vocational Training Corporation (TVTC) in the fields of client service, sales management, basic mobile maintenance and advanced mobile maintenance. Through this, the ministry hopes to increase the Saudization percentage in this vital sector. Inspectors from the Ministry of Labor will carry out tours and field visits to mobile companies and shops to ensure full implementation of the Saudization decision. In the drive, the ministry will involve some other ministries and institutions. Four ministries will jointly monitor implementation of the decision restricting work in the sale and maintenance of telecommunication devices and their accessories to Saudis. Recently, Minister of Labor Mufrej Al-Haqbani issued orders for the total Saudization of all sales outlets and maintenance shops of mobile phones and their accessories within a period of six months.
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11-03-2016
India, Bahrain agree on action to curb human trafficking, help victims
MUMBAI (Thomson Reuters Foundation) - India and Bahrain have agreed to take steps to curb human trafficking and cooperate more closely on the rescue and repatriation of victims, an official statement said on Thursday. The memorandum of understanding is expected to be signed when Indian Home Minister Rajnath Singh visits Bahrain in early April, and follows an anti-trafficking pact between India and Bangladesh last year, India's government press bureau said. South Asia, with India at its centre, is the fastest-growing region for human trafficking in the world, and the second-largest after Southeast Asia, according to the United Nations Office for Drugs and Crime. More than 150,000 people are known to be trafficked within South Asia every year, but the trade is underground and the real number is likely to be much higher. Under the bilateral accord, India and Bahrain will "increase bilateral cooperation on the issues of prevention, rescue, recovery and repatriation related to human trafficking, especially women and children expeditiously", the statement said. India has said it is considering similar agreements to curb human trafficking with other Gulf nations and Nepal. India is both a source and a transit country for trafficking to Bahrain. People from South Asia often migrate voluntarily to Bahrain and other Gulf nations for jobs as domestic workers or in the construction and hospitality industries. After being promised good salaries and working conditions, some face forced labour after arriving in Bahrain - their passports are withheld, their movements restricted, their wages unpaid and they are subjected to threats and physical or sexual abuse. Domestic workers are among the most exploited people in the world, and some Asian countries including Indonesia have proposed banning women from moving to the Middle East to do domestic work. India and Bahrain will aim to ensure speedy investigation and prosecution of traffickers in either country. Measures will also be taken to prevent trafficking, and repatriation of victims will be done quickly, the statement said. A joint task force with representatives from both sides will be set up to monitor the working of the memorandum.
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10-03-2016
Asians who robbed construction warehouse arrested
Abu Dhabi: The police in Sharjah arrested seven Asian expatriates in connection with a robbery targeting a construction company. The gang broke into the firm's warehouse and stole equipment, electrical cables and steel pipes worth AED130,000 after attacking the security guards and tying them up. Further investigation revealed that the thieves were also wanted by the Directorate of Search and Criminal Investigation in connection with a spate of other crimes.
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10-03-2016
Two Asians arrested for attempting to sell a ‘rented’ vehicle
Abu Dhabi: Police arrested two Asians who attempted to sell a rented Nissan Patrol in the Emirate of Ajman. Al-Nuaimia Police Centre Chief Major Ghaith Khalifa Al-Kaabi said that the two men asked for AED140,000 for the vehicle which was in fact owned by a car rental company. They were caught red-handed as they were receiving the money after they cut a deal with an undercover policeman who posed as a buyer, reported local Arabic daily Emarat Al Youm. Police referred the duo to the Public Prosecution.
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10-03-2016
Indian govt gets 787 complaints from labourers in Qatar Qatar PTI
New Delhi: As many as 787 complaints from Indian labourers in Qatar have been received by the government this year, External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj on Wednesday said even as she asserted that there was no pattern to indicate an increase in cases of torture and exploitation overseas. Giving statistics about labour complaints received by various Indian Missions abroad, she told the Lok Sabha that up to February 2016, there were 630 such complaints from Saudi Arabia. 787 complaints were received by the Indian Mission in Qatar up to March 7, while the number stood at 414 in Kuwait up to January this year. The number of complaints received at Indian Missions in UAE and Oman stood at 383 and 330 respectively till February. Citing information made available by the Indian Missions/ Posts in ten Middle East countries including six GCC nations, Swaraj said "There is no general pattern to indicate an increase in cases of torture/exploitation of Indian workers". She was responding to a query whether cases of torture or exploitation of Indians abroad, particularly in Middle East countries, have been reported. Swaraj said most of the complaints were addressed by the Indian Missions by taking them up with the concerned foreign authorities. "Complaints pertaining to employment were taken up by the Indian Missions with the concerned foreign employer/labour department officials in the country," she added. Meanwhile, Swaraj said 652 complaints have been received against fraudulent recruiting agents looking to hire people for jobs overseas in nearly four years. These complaints were received from 2013 till February 29, 2016 and the central government sanctioned prosecution with respect to 24 cases. This year, 15 complaints have been received till February 29 against fraudulent recruitment agencies. There were 272 such complaints in 2013 and the number stood at 170 and 195 in 2014 and 2015, respectively.
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10-03-2016
Market clamp on ‘free visa’ workers...
A NEW regulation is being introduced at the Manama Central Market in a move to clamp down on “fre