Local Saudis call for curb on expat residency

Local residents in Saudi Arabia have called for expatriate residence permits to be limited amid accusations that the amount of expats working in the private sector is damaging employment prospects for native Saudi nationals.

According to an online poll conducted by a Saudi newspaper, Aleqtisadia, the readers surveyed revealed that they believed the number of expats in the region was impacting local employment opportunities and that the amount of time expats are permitted to stay in the region should be limited.

Included in the poll was a question asking participants to respond to the number of expatriates living and working in Saudi Arabia: “Statistics have shown that expatriates now account for a large part of the kingdom’s population. Some have proposed solutions to tackle this problem, including limiting their stay,” the paper said. “Do you support such proposals or favor the present policy of not enforcing any curbs on the stay of expatriates?”

Amid calls to reduce the duration of visas, some local residents also called for higher taxation of foreign workers, while others still called for expatriates to be totally banned from living and working in the country.

The poll also revealed that many of the 55 people surveyed believed that expatriates living in the region were responsible for the crime levels. One reader, Sami bin Mahmoud, claimed:

“Those with low educational levels or who are illiterate are here just to earn their living by any means, including illegal means. Their presence in our country has given rise to crime,” he wrote online.

Aleqtisadia generated the poll in response to a recent report from the Zawya news agency, which revealed that 48% of people in the region aged between 20 and 24 are without employment.

At present it is believed that the expatriate population in Saudi Arabia represents 26% of the total amount of people living in the kingdom, which has a total population of 26.5 million. While the local population clearly believe that this ratio is far too high, it is—in reality—a fraction of the ratio of expatriate to local populations observed in other oil producing Gulf Co-operation Council states, where expatriates currently represent 66-70 percent of the total population.