Thousands of Asian workers in Saudi Arabia are in fear of unemployment and deportation as the Saudi government goes ahead with ‘Nitaqat’, its new job nationalisation drive.
Under the Nitaqat law, it is mandatory for local companies to hire one Saudi national for every 10 migrant workers.
The deadline for implementing the Nitaqat law passed on March 27.
Authorities in Saudi are now fervently hunting down companies that have failed to achieve the required job nationalisation target.
Many expatriates have reportedly been booked for residency law violation in the past week and more are expected to be declared as illegal residents.
250,000 small and medium-sized enterprises have been identified by the labour ministry as failing to comply with Nitaqat. Most of these businesses are run by expatriates who give their Saudi owners a specific amount on an annual basis.
According to local media reports, nearly 2 million expatriates are likely to lose their jobs as a result of Nitaqat. The workers are mainly from India, Pakistan, Bangladesh, Sri Lanka, the Philippines, Egypt, Yemen, and Indonesia.
Indians constitute the majority of expatriates in Saudi Arabia, and among them workers from Kerala form the largest group. According to a report, in 2011, 2.28 million Keralites were working abroad, of which some 570,000 are in Saudi Arabia.