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Saudi study calls for expats to be integrated into society

The study said that most expat workers come to oil-rich GCC states for the sole purpose of of making money

Published: Updated:

Expats in Saudi, who make up around a third of the kingdom’s population, should be integrated into society and the sponsorship system abolished, according to a local study.

The study, by King Fahd Security College, concluded that Saudi’s sponsorship system - known as kafala - which binds migrant workers to their employer has made the kingdom less secure.

Due to the sponsorship system, expats who hold a grudge against their sponsors “turn vindictive and hence resort to crime,” according to the Saudi Gazette.

Poor treatment by sponsors also forces expats into taking the law into their own hands.

“The best remedy is to integrate expatriates into society and abolish the kafala system,” the study said.

Many Saudi expats work in senior positions in the energy and defense sectors, while others work as low-income construction workers and domestic household staff.

The study said that most expat workers come to oil-rich Gulf states for the sole purpose of of making money. It recommended spreading awareness among citizens to accept expatriates to help them overcome the feeling of marginalization.

Last month, Deputy Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman said that the kingdom was considering a US-style Green Card system which would give some expatriates permanent residency – but not full citizenship.

The planned move is part of an ambitious package of reforms to move away from oil based revenue to raise at least an extra $100 billion a year by 2020. The planned Green Card system could generate $10 billion, and another $10 billion is expected to be generated from the fees imposed to exceed foreign worker quotas.


This story is adapted from an article published May 12, 2016 in the Saudi Gazette.