Saudi Arabia’s departing illegal workers open up about their lives

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Many expatriates, who are leaving the kingdom for good at the end of the amnesty period granted to them to rectify their residency status or leave without facing penalties, have spoken about their stay in the country.

Speaking to al-Madinah newspaper, Egyptian national Ahmad Ibrahim said he came to the country to perform Umrah after which he did not go back and remained in Saudi Arabia to look for a job. He went to Jeddah to stay with some of his friends and worked as a painter.

Whenever his wife asked him about his job, he told her that he was a manager, as he did not want to lose her trust in him. Mohammad Fawwaz, another Egyptian who came to the kingdom to perform Umrah and overstayed, said he has a commerce degree but no companies would hire him as he did not hold a residency permit.

Fawwaz said as he could not legally work, he learned to be a barber, which has provided him with a decent income. He also used to lie to his family, telling them he worked as an accountant in a large company and whenever he received visitors from Egypt he would take a few days off work until they left, he told the newspaper. Mohammad al-Jawadi, also Egyptian, said he too was in violation of residency regulations and has worked many odd jobs. He worked as a butcher, supermarket attendant and a tailor.

Jawadi said he expects to benefit from the knowledge and experience he gained working in the kingdom when he finally returns home. Saleh Askar, a Yemeni, said he worked as a carpenter for one and a half years in Jeddah and would go home in two days. Mohammad Abu Saleh, also from Yemen, said he has four children and he told them that he would surprise them in three days, as he was leaving the country. He expressed his gratitude to Saudi Arabia and its people for their hospitality.

Egyptian Husni Fathi said he spent three years in the kingdom and is now preparing to return home. He also thanked the people for their good treatment and hospitality. Mohammad Edrees, a Sudanese national, said the decision to rectify expatriates’ status was a correct one and the kingdom has many work opportunities for legal residents.

This article was first published in the Saudi Gazette on Nov. 4, 2013.

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