Victims of Saudi Crackdown on Undocumented Workers

Abdul Rahman al-Rashed:

The campaign to correct illegal workers’ status has been successful so far, but it has created victims. Some were born and have lived in Saudi Arabia for decades. Many countries across the world give citizenship to people like these. Some of them have lived in Saudi Arabia for 40 years and became Saudis, though not in the legal sense of the word. We do not know how many there are, but regardless I do not think it is a big number compared with that of contemporary violators.

Those who have lived with us and worked tirelessly should, along with their families, at least be granted the right of residency—or simple documentation acknowledging a right they have enjoyed. These residents deserve their status to be corrected because we are confronting an issue that recurs a lot in society as citizenship becomes a fait accompli.

Smart Move

Abdul Rahman al-Rashed praises the latest series of decisions taken by the Saudi government to deal with illegal foreign workers:

On one hand, the sudden announcement of the decision to suspend deportation and grant foreigners a chance to correct their situation is an act of humane justice as well as a legal necessity. Most of these foreigners came to Saudi Arabia to work, and the country continuously needs their services. Thus, the need for them is certain as their activity has been ongoing despite its illegality.

On another hand, deportation is not an easy solution. In order to find illegal residents and deport them, the government’s current capabilities may not be enough unless the government decides to use the assistance of the entire armed forces. This task will pressure the state’s different apparatuses. We are talking about arresting millions of people, checking their residencies, gathering them and keeping them in camps bigger than the Syrian refugees’ camps!

Give Loans, Not Homes

Abdul Rahman al-Rashed on Saudi government options to solve the housing crisis:

The housing promise is a developmental, economic, social and—of course—political project. If the government fulfills its pledge, it may be one of the largest such projects ever undertaken in the world. There are two ways to ensure its success: either give citizens the money, or give them a pre-built house. It would be better if the government grants each citizen SAR 500,000 and lets them be in charge, while ensuring that the price of basic construction materials is regulated. The less favorable option would be for the government to handle the entire construction process.

The lack of proper housing is finally taking center stage as one of the main problems facing the country.

Don’t Call Shoura a Parliament

Abdulrahman al-Rashed says as long as the Shoura Council are appointed and not elected then it is not a parliament. He calls for partial election of Shoura:

I believe that the Shoura Council being a mixture of recruited members with extraordinary talent and elected representatives of different social groups raises accountability for the growing state, which is justified because the state has more responsibilities and thus the expectations of citizens have grown.

No Excuse

Abdulrahman al-Rashed on the Saudi budget:

Oil-producing countries have greater responsibilities, for they have no excuse when one of their citizens has no job, or when a citizen is sick but cannot get treatment, or when a citizen lacks insurance or does not feel safe in his home. It is the government’s duty to provide citizens with these services. When officials are upset at being criticized, they forget that it is their job to serve the people and the budget is how a government expresses its plans to serve the people.

‘Explosive’

Abdul Rahman al-Rashed on Saudi unemployment:

The problem has been caused by a number of reasons: The first is poor education that does not qualify young people for field work. The second is the tremendous increase in population that makes about 60 percent of them under the age of 30. The third reason is the government’s mismanagement of its resources and poor future planning. This is easy to prove given the fact that there are about six million foreign workers and tens of thousands of its citizens are without jobs.

Al-Rashed, at the end of article, quotes his previous self where he says that the Saudi government is lucky because they have ample resources to tackle the problem. What he doesn’t say is that they are failing to put these resources to good use.