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Saudi Sponsorship System – Modern Day Slavery

The night was young and the cool spring breeze sent a chill down my spine as I wrapped my arms around myself and exited the warmth of the mosque. Isha prayer had just finished and I thought of my evening plans as I tried to locate my sandals among the heap of shoes and slippers at the main door. “Dude, use the damn shoe rack next time” I thought to myself, as I found my sandals and proceeded to walk home, a mere 50 meters away.

The neighborhood street was eerily quiet, but started showing signs of life as people slowly exited the mosque and went back to what they were doing before prayer. There were no birds flying around, no cars moving in sight, save for the few worshippers who came to the mosque with cars. Another sudden breeze blew leaves off the nearby trees and carried with it that unmistakable tangy smell of the nearby Arabian Sea. A little kid blew past me on his BMX bike, looking back and waving at me for approval, to which I responded with a big smile and two thumbs up.

As I walked past the houses, mothers and sisters were busy preparing dinner and the different smells emanating from the kitchen windows tingled my nose and I had a sudden craving for shawarma. I decided to call Ali and ask if he was down for some shawarma followed by some diet-killing Krispy Kreme donuts and that’s when I met Mohammed, my neighbor. He was walking back home from prayer and had just come back to Saudi Arabia from Malaysia a couple of days back. He told me that he has a long semester break and would be in Saudi Arabia for a couple of months and will renew his iqama before heading back to Malaysia. We talked for some time and had to cut our chat short as Ali rolled into my street. A couple of weeks later I went back to Malaysia.

Little did Mohammed know that he might never make it to Malaysia. What was supposed to be a couple of months turned into 4 months and he’s still stuck in Saudi Arabia as I type this.

But first, for those of you that don’t know, Saudi Arabia does not have your usual residence permit system for expatriates. Expatriates have to obtain an iqama (pronounced iqaama), a residency permit that allows them to work and live in the country, through a legal citizen of Saudi Arabia who becomes their kafeel, or sponsor. This kafala system, or sponsorship system, binds the expatriate worker to that kafeel and he has the power to alter the employment contract and/or transfer the sponsorship to someone else. The expatriate worker has no power or say and is under the mercy of his kafeel. Kafeels are normal people like you and me, so majority of them have a healthy relationship with the people they sponsor, but there are always the ones that go out of their way to wreak havoc on people’s lives.

Image courtesy of The Crazy Jogger @ Flickr

Some kafeels, in seeing that the person/people they sponsor are totally under their mercy, exploit them by blackmailing them and forcing them to pay them money. Some of them simply decide to get them deported after the pettiest of misunderstandings. An expatriate can file a legal suit against their employer or sponsor, but often times they are deported before their cases are even reviewed by judges. Other kafeels simply ignore their duty towards the people they sponsor by refusing to get their papers signed for renewing or any other legal processes. Something similar happened to my neighbor Mohammed and his family.

Mohammed’s father is a retired engineer who used to work for the oil giant Saudi Aramco and a respected member of the community who has lived in the same house in Saudi Arabia since the early 70s. Mohammed was born in Saudi Arabia and has lived his whole life there. He has nowhere else to call home. All of his friends are Saudi.

When the time came for the family to renew the iqamas, they found out their kafeel was on vacation in USA. They didn’t worry, thinking he’d be back in time for them to start the renewal process. When a week passed and he was nowhere to be found, they tried reaching him through his numbers, but to no avail. They tried his family. No luck. They tried reaching him through his company and siblings. Still no luck. As each day passed, and with the threat of deportation looming over them, the family decided to take matters into their own hands and try to obtain a new sponsor. As of this moment they are still working on that solution, and I pray it works out for them.

This kafala system is nothing short of modern-day slavery. How is it different from historic slavery where people were tied to a ‘master’? It is a primitive idea that hinders human potential and breeds hatred toward Saudi Arabia in the hearts of the millions of expatriates living inside and outside Saudi Arabia. Sadly, sometimes even children  even exposed to this ideology and understand from a young age that they are not equal with their Saudi peers.

Other Gulf nations have seen the error of their ways and have either done away with the system or ensured migrant workers get justice. Abolishing it will instantly improve Saudi Arabia’s battered image in the eyes of the world and provide it greater influence and flexibility in the global arena. Getting rid of this archaic system which is open to all sorts of abuses will not only win the hearts of the millions of expatriates who suffer the indignity of being under a Saudi sponsor’s power, but make them fall in love with the country and its people.

There’s an Arab proverb that goes along the lines of:

Write bad things that are done to you in sand, but write the good things that happen to you on a piece of marble.

Too often have the winds of time blown away the proverbial writing in the sand; the cries for equal treatment from the expatriate community. Saudi Arabia should change for the better and become a home for all, instead of a home for a few and a prison for many. Saudi Arabia, being The Land of the Two Holy Mosques and a leader in the Islamic world, should be  beacon of hope and a model for human rights and equality.

Islam teaches us the great reward for releasing a slave. King Abdullah has the opportunity to release millions.

  1. Liam
    August 28, 2011 at 8:25 PM

    I have heard of Saudi human rights violations but never really knew how bad it was. I cannot believe such a system still exists in today’s world specially in the world’s largest oil producer!

  2. Noor
    August 28, 2011 at 8:32 PM

    this is why hate saudia. I used to live there and i would hear this kind of stories everytime. I really hope your it works out for your friend

  3. Chirley
    August 28, 2011 at 9:41 PM

    Sam, I have heard stories like this a lot. If Saudi Arabia follows the Shariah laws, which Islamic ruling allows for this kind of system? Where are the Islamic scholars on this issue?

  4. Mustapha
    August 28, 2011 at 11:42 PM

    Apparently, the land that is suppose to serve as a place of refuge to Muslims (mainly) is the most appalling place to want to live, most people only prefer to go there for hajj and umrah, and com back, as a matter of fact i personally hate the place, I’ve always hate the place since what happened to someone close to me, but non the less, we just have to pray to God for mercy and guidance, the Saudi leaders as an entity are bunch hypocrites and are completely Inept to be a leading nation in the Islamic world, so far so good , they’ve been a slave of the parasitic empire (we know who they are, and hope there end will so devastating that I will enjoy or the people alive then will enjoy watching them perish in such a way it will so disastrous but anyway …. wallahu a’alam) And as for Saudi Arabia, only God knows how is best to handle them, but hopefully the scholars rise up from there slumber and speak against there mistreatment of the entire populace especially the Muslim immigrants in there country. Salam!

    • Abdallah
      September 1, 2011 at 10:18 PM

      I am Saudi. Why do you generalize all our leaders as corrupt and Inept when you dont know a single 1? The system has its flaws.. and the news report someone posted here is old. The ministry is dicussing and studying this matter right now. If something has happened to someone you know, it does not mean you hate all Saudis, becaus like every other place on the planet there are bad people here also. You do not need to wish destruction and a curse on a whole nation. We are all Muslims and should wish each other the best

      • Mustapha
        September 1, 2011 at 11:58 PM

        Mr. Abdallah i don’t hate all Saudis, its my general evaluation of your Nation, Definitely there are a lot of good pious people in Arabia, I’ve met some of them, and I’ve seen the ones that are good and the ones that are bad. I’m just gonna rephrase my statement on saying I hate the country, basically i just dislike the way things are there, I must have gotten all emotional after reading the article, but it doesn’t still change my stance about most of your leaders, they tend to sicken me a lot at times, I’m sure you also know that most of them are so corrupt and they only cared about themselves and their behavior is quite appalling in terms of Islamic virtues, surely u can’t deny that, I don’t need to know all of them,but if 50 to 75% of them are like that,or the most senior ones are that way, that’s how I’m or anybody is gonna evaluate your leadership system, even though we might know they can’t be all bad, regardless, I’m not trying to judge any Nation or anybody, my Country’s situation locally and Internationally, is worse than yours, but nevertheless i feel as a Muslim, Saudi Arabia should be a role a model in the Islamic world, but its falling very short on that. wallahu a’alam. I beg your forgiveness brother i shouldn’t say i hate any Muslim, but i could dislike their act and wish them God’s grace to deliverance. thank you!

      • September 2, 2011 at 4:14 AM

        Abdalla with all due respect , The ministry has been revising this issue for as long as I remember. I was a resident of Saudi Arabia from birth till last year. And my family and I just like so many other families fell victim to this horrible system. But the problem is not entirely from the seniors, it is those desk clerics that are responsible for the processing. I should not have to bribe anyone for what is my right. But that is the case . This article was actually lenient on the issue of Iqamas and how much expatriates suffer because of it.

  5. Walter
    August 29, 2011 at 12:17 AM

    That is a heart breaking story! The problem is the people got used to the system that they can’t imagine living under another system. I am sure Saudis enjoy what power they have over the foreigners that they are afraid to let go of that power. But that is no excuse to continue with this behaviour. This is a cloaked version of slavery. If the other neighbouring countries have realised the negative aspect of it stopped this behaviour, why hasn’t Saudi Arabia done so as well?

  6. Naveen
    August 29, 2011 at 10:09 AM

    Until when will this slavery continue in where Islam originated? Why hasn’t the world heard of it? Expat workers feel they have no rights in the country. I used to live there years ago and can personally say I understand what your friend is going through. I remember many things in Saudi Arabia can be done with connections. So I am sure your friend’s family has connections and hopefully it will be sorted out.

  7. Asma
    August 29, 2011 at 12:59 PM

    Sadly most of those affected dont have connections and they fall through the cracks of the system and go unheard. these poor people in the low income range make up majority of the deported and mistreated foreigners. They are rounded up during raids and are kept indefinitely in jails while they await their deportation date. The courts never hear of them and the authorities do not check on whether they are mistreated because everyone sees it as easier to send them away instead of the hassle of hearing out their stories and sorting out their problems. Many times the sponsor would use his influence through a relative and literally prevent the poor worker from voicing their complaints. The connections a Saudi has are more powerful and beneficial to him and it even though there are plenty of good Saudis who will do the correct and moral thing and help the victim, it depends on the foreign worker’s luck.

  8. Expat in KSA
    August 29, 2011 at 11:19 PM

    I just found this article while searching more about the sponsorship system that says the system won’t be scrapped anytime soon. The original link is at the bottom of the page and is in Arabic but the title alone is enough to send a message that the system is here to stay. I’m just glad my kafeel is a nice guy

    http://www.loc.gov/lawweb/servlet/lloc_news?disp3_2486_text

  9. August 30, 2011 at 2:30 AM

    Has anyone complained this to the UN? It’s a breach on a basic human right.
    I realize having oil sort of relieves one of any responsibility, but it’s worth a try. If anything the world will know what Saudi Arabia is doing, and I have a feeling that altering politics (sponsorship) is much easier than altering decades of culture (treatment of females).

    Inshallah khair, we’ll make dua for your friend and all muslims under hardship and suffering injustice!

  10. Rosh
    August 30, 2011 at 3:36 AM

    I found your post on another blog! I cannot begin to understand what your friend is going through and can only pray for him. Whats worse is this is just the tip of the iceberg. Alot goes on in saudi arabia and the news rarely picks the stories up because the victims are either to scared or silenced in other ways. And when the news does get out, it is too late and the person is locked up and awaiting deportation. It baffles me why the scholars are not speaking about this issue.?

  11. Angry Arab
    August 30, 2011 at 4:00 AM

    somalieren, the UN is a joke. The human rights offices in the country are useless. They have no way of helping people except by providing shelter or care after the crimes are committed against them. There is no freedom of speech, and even scholars who criticize the high ministries such as the ministry of interior can be arrested. Even Sam’s story here can land him in trouble since he is an expatriate I believe. Rights activists and bloggers are arrested constantly for voicing their cries for freedom. You can find all of this kind of news on the Human Rights Watch Saudi Arabia website.

    The UN has no power over these kind of issues. Other countries can do nothing but watch as this happens. This does not happen to those carrying western nationalities, as their embassies are powerful, but it mostly happens to those hailing from third world countries who really have no way of pressurizing Saudi Arabia. The west is content with their contant supply of oil flowing from Saudi Arabia, so they too don’t want to sully this cozy relationship.

    I see no hope in the near future for the poor mistreated foreigners living in Saudi Arabia.

    • Jake
      March 23, 2012 at 12:16 AM

      Actually, westerners do suffer from these very same problems. I know of some personally.

  12. Angry Arab
    August 30, 2011 at 4:08 AM

    Some countries voice their concern through their embassies and when things don’t change in Saudi Arabia they take matters into their own hands. Take Indonesia for example. Their embassy filed numerous complaints to resolve the issue of the many Indonesian maids that are abused by families and when nothing was done to curb that, Indonesia started prohibiting its women from going to Saudi Arabia to work as maids.

  13. Sultan
    August 30, 2011 at 7:24 PM

    Sam, I am deeply saddened by what is happening to your friend and his family. It hurts me to know that this is being done by a fellow Saudi and this is what gives us Saudis a bad image around the world. I am a Saudi studying abroad and I am one of the many Saudis who are against this kafala system.

    Other than it being used to prevent expats from moving around easily or having full rights, it is also detrimental to us Saudis. Companies prefer to hire non-Saudis because they KNOW they can keep them in check and somewhat keep them from abruptly quitting and moving to another job, because in order to do that the expatriate worker will have to file several documents and have the sponsorship transferred to another kafeel and his previous kafeel must process the documents for transferring. A Saudi can easily quit one day and start at another location the next day and the employer has no power or influence on them.

    For this reason most companies prefer foreign workers and this makes it hard for Saudis to get a job which is why the Saudization program was started in the first place. If the sponsorship system is abolished, expatriates and Saudis will both be free to work where they wish and this creates a competitive environment where we all have equal footing.

    This is not to say the system should be abolished solely for this reason though. The system has too many flaws and I have read my fair share of abuses in the system. Many Saudis agree that this should be stopped. I hope your friend’s situation improves. Keep us updated!

    • Ahmad
      October 3, 2012 at 1:44 AM

      I am the victim too almost the same story. Upto 2 years has been passed and my education, degree and future is almost destroyed just in the hide and seek of sponsor and jawazat or their red/yellow/green (recently introduced drama for expatriates) system. Stucked even till now. NO use of help from any department… This is the reward I got of being born here! Some day will come when Allah will end my pain of which I am suffering until now.

  14. Radek
    August 31, 2011 at 11:07 AM

    When I used to live in Saudi Arabia, what I hated the most was the iqama. There is a green one for muslims like the one in the picture and the red one for nonmuslims. I hated carrying it with me everywhere because it was a small booklet. I have been told that some people steal them and sell them in the black market so I used to guard it with my life! I hope your friends problem is solved soon.

    This problem you mentioned is very widespread but it does not get much media attention which i am not surprised at. Most foreigners are afraid to speak up and lose their jobs for speaking and those that speak up are the ones that have nothing to lose.

    How does the system work in Saudi Arabia? How are laws enacted and such policies abolished? I don’t have much understanding about this. Do people go about meeting at city halls? Or does the minister of interior affairs decide everything on his own or from the command of the king?

  15. Saudi born & Sudanese national
    August 31, 2011 at 12:37 PM

    sam, is so sad when you hear such story form a country like Saudi Arabia ! the country where the light of ISLAM came out to the earth planet ! i am Muslim and i believe that Islam has nothing to do with Slavery and Racism but Unfortunately Saudi iqama’s system is all about that!
    Is also sad when you see people who were born and raised in Saudi , grow up with the country’s culture and language still suffering of this “Modern Day Slavery” as you named it, and i agree with you it is a modern slavery with no doubt, or its even worst.
    lot of Similar stories heard of those who lost their semesters, money, and even their minds and the main reason is they processing or fall to renew this iqama (Saudi Permanent visa)
    i can only say Iqama system that’s running in Saudi Arabia is a joke and i hope they can manage to get better system that’s fits the people who lives there and gives them their rights and FREEDOM not SLAVERY in the century 21.

    • Ahmad Al-Otaibi
      September 3, 2011 at 1:44 PM

      u can argue about iqama problems but not about citizenship coz its the nations choice to give it and it choose not to . every1 has his own country so they go back when they finish working in ksa ! also u mention people not fail to renew iqama but that is usually their problem coz they go to late from the country they are studying and they face the penalty for comin late! And then every1 puts the blame on the Saudi government coz of that

      • Sam
        September 4, 2011 at 8:34 PM

        Ahmad, even though I don’t understand why Saudi Arabia makes it technically impossible to obtain citizenship, no one is talking about it here. My topic is about a friend who is a victim of the kafala system. And please, speak with others as you would like to be spoken to. Your statement about people deserving to be kicked out after investing decades of their life working to improve Saudi Arabia is simply arrogant and ignorant. How would you like to spend 20+ years in another country and then be told to go back to wherever you came from?

      • Jake
        March 23, 2012 at 12:27 AM

        Typical, ignorant, small minded, Saudi. You are the type that just loves to play with the lives of others, aren’t you? let’s see if you are still singing that same song if the situation is reversed.

  16. Abu Yasir
    August 31, 2011 at 4:16 PM

    This problem you mention is one of the negative side of the system. But this system is meant to keep safe the jobs of the nationals. There are many retirees who keep collecting their benefits and also some income from jobs they do after retiring.. so they are collecting money from the company they use to work for and the new work they find after retiring. Is this fair to the young Saudis who canot find jobs.? Their are many Saudis who have no jobs even though they have university degrees because who is taken their jobs? the retired men who are still taken in other jobs because of their experience instead of those ones who need them most to start a family! so what is the solution that can satisfy both sides?

  17. Sam
    August 31, 2011 at 6:23 PM

    Liam – This should be in Ripley’s Believe it or not.

    Chirley – Policies like this come from the ministry, and they, or the king, can abolish this system.

    Mustapha – A lot of people hate the place, but it’s really good. You can’t judge a people by the government and can’t wish such a destruction on them. Saudis in general are great people and many of them hate such policies. It’s those in power in certain offices that cause people to hate Saudi Arabia. And you’re right, we hope the scholars can speak up against this. A fatwa maybe?

    Walter – I don’t know why Saudi Arabia hasn’t abolished this system. But whatever the excuse, it’s not enough to warrant such policies.

    Asma – You’re spot on! Those that are victims in these abuses are usually the less fortunate. And the sad thing is, 9 times out of 10, the citizen wins over the expatriate, even though the crime is as clear as day and night.

    Expat in KSA – I have never come across this. This is a big blow to the expatriate community. I hope the idea of abolishing this system is still on the table. Thanks for the link!

  18. Sam
    August 31, 2011 at 6:23 PM

    Somalieren – I don’t think the UN can do anything about this. Those that can do something are the ones that buy oil from this country since without it, Saudi Arabia is in trouble. I’m sure the human rights groups have exhausted all avenues and I’m sure the UN was one of them. And yes, this seems easier to change than the various issues regarding women, but this thing is beneficial for the Saudis, so they keep it.

    Rosh – I myself can’t begin to imagine the depression and anxiety he and his family are going through. The thought of possibly getting deported is scary to say the least.

    Angry Arab – I remember the Indonesian incident, and they had every reason to stop sending their women to work as maids. Sadly, every country can’t stop sending their people to work in Saudi Arabia. Although it would be nice to see Saudi Arabia try and function for a minute without a single expatriate working.

    Sultan – You have a point, and I never really saw it like that. I appreciate your cool headedness in replying, as I’ve seen my fair share of hate mail and comments from angry Saudis in the past. I fully agree with you and this would give both expatriates and locals a fair chance at working together without the stigma and hate.

  19. Sam
    August 31, 2011 at 6:24 PM

    Radek – Today they have electronic smart card in place of the old booklets. I guess they had enough of people forging them.

    Saudi born & Sudanese national – That is my greatest concern in Saudi Arabia. A great percentage of expatriates in Saudi Arabia were born there or have been living there for over 15 years, and yet Saudi Arabia won’t give them citizenship. Many expatriates who were born there are sent sent to the country their parents are from, knowing no one there and not even speaking the language. Let’s hope it all works out for the better.

    Abu Yasir – You are right; some retirees do work again after 60, but they are legally living there with a valid iqama and another sponsor. The authorities can’t just deport them if they are working and living legally not matter what the age. If the employer decides to hire a 65 year-old instead of an inexperienced 24 year-old, it’s their choice. And usually these retirees are hired for a couple of years to train the necomers or train a replacement. However, if the government now issues a new policy of not hiring anyone above retirement age….

  20. Surej
    August 31, 2011 at 11:13 PM

    I have heard of this too often when I was in ksa.. it happend to someone I know who was mistreated by his kafil. Many kafils want to make more money by getting more workers under there name so because they make the workers pay them an amount each time to stay registerd under their name.. and most workers have no degree and do low pay jobs and are scared if they stop paying or complain thet will be deported

  21. Vikram
    September 1, 2011 at 12:27 AM

    I understand your friend’s story. I am an accountant and have no problems with my company/sponsor but I know some people who are affected. The problem with Saudi arabia is that there are no unions. In other countries if there is unfair treatment the union carries out demands or strikes and the government has to listen to them. here even though everyone is in the same situation yet each person feels like he s fighting alone. i cant read arabic. What did the link above say? What is the reason why they are not canceling this system

  22. Rasheed
    September 1, 2011 at 6:08 PM

    The news story says that basically the the ministry has no intentions of canceling the kafil system because they need to do more studies on the matter. the rest is all talk about forging visas and documents

    I found your blog through the Somali blogs page. I enjoy reading your stories and i hope your friends problem is solved soon!

  23. Wael
    September 2, 2011 at 7:57 AM

    You raised an important issue facing the international community in Saudi Arabia Sam. I used to live in Saudi Arabian and even though this never happened to me I would always hear of someone being victimised by the system. and as you mentioned they usually go unheard which is why this problem is not heard of by the rest of the world. Now I live in UAE and here the system is just like Saudi Arabia. The company is your sponsor and that is a UAE citizen. But here in UAE the government made a vow long time ago to improve quality of life so if anyone is victimized no matter what nationality they complain to the government and get justice…..even if the oppressor os a UAE citizen. I truly hope your friend gets justice

    • Sam
      September 3, 2011 at 12:02 AM

      My friends from UAE have told me the same thing. Even though they also have some bad cases, it is not as widespread as in KSA, and they actually try to do something about it.

  24. Yasmine
    September 2, 2011 at 10:05 AM

    My uncle used to work in Saudi Arabia and since he had no higher education he used to work house jobs such as plumbing or tiling or other repairs. He worked directly under a sponsor like most uneducated workers and his stories would make me cry. He used to tell me how little he had each month because the sponsor had to be paid money, the iqama reneweal took half his salary, and his family was left with a quarter of his earnings which were already too low.

    Now he is living with us in France and working as a security guard with full benefits and respect as a CITIZEN. I think the only khaleej country to stop this system is Bahrain.

    • Sam
      September 3, 2011 at 12:19 AM

      I’m happy your uncle got a chance at a better life. Sadly, I’ve been told Bahrain’s change to the sponsorship system is mainly symbolic, as the expatriate worker still has to be under a company to stay legally in the country.

  25. Chris
    September 2, 2011 at 12:46 PM

    saudis get equal treatment like everyone else in our countries. i wonder how they would feel if they were treated the same way they treat the poor foroeign workers. i wonder how they would feel if they pay was witheld or simply deported without notice. They enjoy full benefits like citizens by freedom of speech, religion, right to fair trials and equal chances of getting jobs when in our country

    • Anon.
      September 3, 2011 at 8:48 PM

      great point. I lived in Saudi Arabia for half of my life and my experience is that while I met a lot of great Saudis, there’s something deeply racist about the culture. The country’s only redeeming qualities are those good individuals who go against the norm.

  26. September 3, 2011 at 12:27 PM

    No system is perfect.. and what your friend is going through can easily be solved by changing kafeel.. even though it is not easy and quick. But majority of problems with the kafalah system is abuse such as forcing the worker to pay money to get something done for them. This always works because the worker agrees to pay the bribe instead of going to the police or the labor office to complain.
    The worker is the one who comes to Saudi Arabia so he should know all the contract requirements and what is required from the sponsor such as things like renewal. If the kaffeel asks the worker to pay then the worker should know that he should not pay and should report to the police the bribery. But if he pays then that means he broke the contract agreement and so did the kaffeel and the kafeel will see that as a chance of making more money

    • Sam
      September 4, 2011 at 8:42 PM

      It’s true; no system if perfect. However, many of the workers who hail from 3rd world countries cannot read Arabic or English and are hired mostly for labor. They are truly desperate for any income in order to feed their families back home, as the amount they will make in Saudi Arabia, although still little, is better than what they could earn in their home country. Thus, they would sign into any contract they are given, so long as they can send money back home. When blackmailed by their sponsors/bosses, they have no choice but to pay up, because that is better (and safer) than complaining to the authorities or the labor office and then getting deported with no chance of getting back in the nation to support their families. The sponsors clearly know this and exploit their desperation.

      Thus, you can argue that the worker is partly to blame, but truth is, they are put between a rock and a hard place, with paying up being the only way out.

  27. Saudi born & Sudanese national
    September 3, 2011 at 4:00 PM

    Ahmad Al-Otaibi, let me tell you there’s no such thing called ” work and when u finish go back !” because if u know how rude this statement is u wont tell it. you know what this sounds to me? its human investment which’s not really what anyone looks for, is not like let me use you and when you got expired and u became useless then go back to where u from! do u think this is how it Suppose to be Mr. Al-Otaibi ?! its not about someone who came to saudi recently and work but its about someone who was born in the country and grow up there learn language and culture, some one who sing National Anthem every morning at school from 7 years until 20.! do you think its fare simply telling this person “please finish ur job and no thank you go to where u from” ! i don’t think this would look nice to u and anyone else. i don’t know what the difference between this person i just mentioned and the saudi citizen ?! is it the papers, color and race or something else ! even in islam there’s no difference of colors and race is saudi is where islam came from!! well let’s take it the way they wanted it and say yes that one got iqama and the citizen is who should have (al aseri, al otaibi, al gamdi and so on ).. its name names anyway.
    about the people who fail to arrive “5 MINUTES” before the iqaram Expire, usually that happens for reasons like (they are overseas studying and their iqama’s renewal time clashed with exams time, they can prove that to the saudi immigration by providing a letter from the university that they had exams at the renewal time but saudi immigration wont accept that! this happened to some guys and they lost the iqama just like that! also this happened to someone who went to the saudi embassy 1 month before his iqama expired and ask if they can allow him to finish his exam and fly to saudi after he’s done, they told him yes sure, the guy finished his exams and got ready to fly to jeddah but unfortunately he was unable to make it while his visa its all over and the embassy has nothing to do for him to help his situation even they promised him that he wont face any problems.
    this is how it works with saudi gov.

    • Ahmad Al-Otaibi
      September 8, 2011 at 6:17 PM

      i might have seemed rude but its the truth coz not all countries give citizenships and my country is one of them. so even if u lived in one of those countries u would be complaining. it is not ur fault but ur parents who knew that saudi arabia country does nt allow foreigners to become saudi. EVERY foreigner knows this before they come but they still complain why? i cant say its a perfect system but its truth and the saudi govetnment doesnt want to have all foreigners become saudi and then it spend so much on them

  28. September 3, 2011 at 5:32 PM

    It’s interesting how one of the comments above said “Do your job and leave” . it not only is distasteful , it is the very ignorance that will keep this country on a standby until these ideas and opinions change. It’s also interesting how most of the arrogance and Ignorance is from the youth to the mid 30’s age group of the country .the very people who will be the leaders of tomorrow.
    How can you feed off another human’s sweat and blood and then when they have invested all they had in your country , ask them to leave ?. I just do not understand. And another comment that said “go to the police , do not pay the bribe” . How are you so confident in the police system ? . 4 years ago I was still a high school student and walahi I knew of little boys about my age who got away with drugs simply because they were “friends” with the chief.
    Is this the very system you want me to go to for help ?? The very ones that will ask for bribery themselves? .

    I understand Saudi Arabia is your home, and you are outraged everytime it is mentioned in a negative manner . But instead of getting angry and bitter and blinding yourself to what is in front of you, take a moment to really consider what these issues are . They are very much real for many people. Patriotism is beautiful in theory but when practiced to extremes , the result is loss of respect for other human beings.

    • Ahmad Al-Otaibi
      September 8, 2011 at 6:21 PM

      my comment sounds rude but im only saying whats true. u said to look at the issues but u dont know the issues. im sure the governmnt has thought about this but decided not to give citizenship so easily. why? Because they dont want more people to feed for free. saudi is just like any other country and they already have problem with unemployment now so making foreigners become saudis will give more troubles to solve. its not easy task so everyone who is working here should remember that they have to go back some day and be prepared.

      • September 8, 2011 at 10:43 PM

        I am sorry Ahmad but you completely missed the point. I do know the issues at hand because I was a resident of the kingdom for 19 years. I not once referred to citizenship or the likes of it . However you and I clearly know nobody feeds for free in Saudi Arabia , certainly not the foreigners.

        and How can we forget that we are only “Working” in Saudi Arabia when we have you and the sponsorship system to remind us every now and then.

      • Manaf
        September 9, 2011 at 7:40 AM

        I’m a Saudi born Arab but studying outside. When you are born in a country and live there your whole life and you inherit the culture, that country becomes YOUR country and should rightly give you equal treatment as a normal citizen. How would you like it if you lived in a country and have all your family and friends there and even have cousins who are citizens and still not be a citizen? Just thank God for whatever blessings you have and stop being so ignorant to other people’s problems.

      • Sam
        September 10, 2011 at 6:32 PM

        Ahmad, I disagree with your reasoning. The Saudi government has no reason to fear naturalizing expatriates. In fact, it is beneficial to the nation and economy. Naturalized people will feel more patriotic and work more diligently and honestly in order to improve the place they can now call home. They will contribute even more to the economy and Saudi Arabia will see a great portion of their income being spent in the local market and less remittance. They will buy lands and houses and boost the real estate sector greatly. They will be able to invest in local companies under their own names without fears of getting played by ‘kafeels’. The local police force can benefit from some diversity because we all know they can use some English speaking cops. I could go on forever…

        There are a lot of pros but few cons, but yet you still stick to your one and only reason: more people to feed for free. Come up with a better argument…

      • Saudi born & Sudanese national
        September 10, 2011 at 8:14 PM

        Dear Al-Otaibi, r you saying the government is feeding someone for free!! Me personally i have never heard of this free feeding you r talking about, and why for free?? If what you are talking about this that new rules (2000 RS for jobless citizens of the kingdom) then you are opening another topic. Firstly you have to ask your self a question ” what does primary school certificate makes you work nowadays”?? SECURITY GUARD? not even that!
        As i said this is another topic we gonna start right here but i prefer to follow the title up there and talk about this sponsorship joke!
        And hey do you think foreigners who are living in Saudi are not prepared?! haha this is so interesting! now doctors, teachers, engineers, and those who are taking high positions in the kingdom became unprepared!!! woow i don’t know who’re unprepared now! this successful group i mentioned just now or that group of citizens who’re holding primary school certificate as a highest education level, being jobless ,seeking the (2000 RS) from the government and thinking they are the best because they are citizens of the kingdom! what kind of mentality is that! well, i will leave it for yu and the other readers to determine and guess!
        A lot of other countries don not accept foreigners to hold their nationality but at least they have HUMANITY SYSTEM to manage the foreigner’s life and treat them more politely.

      • Jake
        March 23, 2012 at 12:57 AM

        You really seem to be taking the defensive route on this topic. Could it be because you are of those who abuse the system,therefore you’d like to see it remain unchanged? Many companies hire expatriates to work for them because Saudis themselves aren’t very keen on working or coming in ontime. I know of a Saudi who works in an airline here and never does any work, nor does he have the experince for the job he was hired for. And when asked why he’s even there, he replies saying, “It’s my right”. Such arrongance is the real reason that Saudi Arabia is still progressing.

    • Ahmad
      October 3, 2012 at 2:10 AM

      Well said Fatima… I think this man doesn’t know that how ******* is “to leave”. If a person wish to leave then several new issues are also waiting there to welcoming you before you “leave”!!!

  29. Tariq
    September 4, 2011 at 6:44 AM

    Imagine my surprise when an American friend of mine pointed me toward this blog. I am Saudi and studying in the States. I cannot argue with Sam and he has shown restraint and respect by not going and attacking the people like many would be inclined to in times when they are affected by a certain individual in the system. On behalf of my people, excuse the comments that some ignorant ‘Saudis’ might have/or might post here, but those are a minority and like to stir things up hidden behind computer screens.

    In USA, I have seen my fair share of discrimination, but it is nothing compared to the friendliness and love most have shown me who make me forget that the few haters out there even exist. Every society has its bad apples, but my country’s bad apples are a bit worse since they actually affect poor people’s lives. There are many progressive and pro-change Saudis like me and inshallah things will change in the years to come. I’m don’t follow politics but I am sure there are parties in Saudi who are trying to make changes for the better.

    In regards to the corrupt police as sister Fatma spoke about, sadly it’s true. Saudis thrive on ‘connections’ and don’t think twice before committing felonies because they believe their father or friend can get them out of it through a friend in the department. This is specially true when the victim is not Saudi, because it makes the choice easier for the corrupt cop to choose who’s side to pick. There are some corrupt police, but many are actually decent God fearing men. I would suggest any expatriate worker who does not have connections of his own to go to his local mosque and speak with the head imam and tell him of the situation. The head imam will surely see your dilemma and guide you to a cop he knows and trusts to be honest. Even for non-Muslims who fear that they maybe unfairly treated can go to the head imam of a nearby mosque or the Islamic center of the city you live in. The imam (leader) will be glad to help since in Islam one does not discriminate according to religion.

    Sam, I hope your friend’s situation improves. Please keep us updated! And I’m glad I stumbled upon your blog!

    • Sam
      September 4, 2011 at 8:47 PM

      Brother Tariq, thank you for your kind words. Your idea of seeking the help of an imam is a great idea. I will update you with news of what happens with Mohammed insha’Allah.

  30. Michael
    September 5, 2011 at 5:44 PM

    Personally speaking, I have never lived in Saudi Arabia. But I have heard a lot about its policies toward non-Saudis. I heard they also show double standards by respecting westerners while treating those from third world nations poorly. This is the 21st century and slavery has ended ages ago. Perhaps it still lives in other forms?

    My prayers are with your friend Sam.

    Michael

  31. Nadia J
    September 6, 2011 at 1:44 PM

    I used to live in Saudi Arabia and studied in their schools and have seen firsthand the attitude Saudi children grow up with. Many parents make their children feel entitled to better treatment than foreigners. That thinking that ‘I am Saudi’ and ‘this is MY country’ is what they are raised with. That is why most Saudis feel that they can easily get out of any legal case dealing with a foreigner. And when they grow up the mentality turns into ‘the government can get me a job’ like the current Saudization program going on. And for some Saudis, they know how to play the system and start sponsoring expat laborers and live off the money they get from them. You will not believe the number of expat business owners who have to pay their sponsors lots of money under the table each year because the sponsor threatens to cut them off and they see it as easier to pay them then change sponsors.

    • Sam
      September 7, 2011 at 7:40 AM

      There are many great issues with the sponsorship system, and a lot of abuse goes under the radar. A friend of mine was chatting with me a couple of nights ago and while on the topic of Saudi Arabia and sponsorship, he told me about how the father of his friend has to pay his sponsor around $10K a year in ‘fees’ because he runs a successful business and it’s a lot cheaper and less of a hassle than reporting his sponsor and goind through the process of licensing his business and getting a new sponsor.

      As for the Saudization, it’s in full effect now as the government is forcing companies to hire a certain percentage of Saudis or risk getting rejected when the time comes to renew the business licenses.

  32. Rachel Tansey
    September 7, 2011 at 12:10 PM

    Correct me if I’m wrong but isnt the iqama or residence permit like a greencard? Then shouldnt the government department in charge of renewing it understand the situation and do something about it?

    • Sam
      September 10, 2011 at 5:03 PM

      It is like a greencard, but the system requires the sponsor’s approval and there’s no use in trying to reason with them. It would be easier to coax a cow to fly than to convince the immigration officer to approve your papers without the kafeel’s approval…unless there’s monetary exchange under the table…

  33. moayad almahi
    September 10, 2011 at 7:32 PM

    Mr. Ahmad Al-Otaibi,take it back and think for a while if these forigners are not in the Gulf, I dont think your people can achieve your countris economic goals. I937 start saudi aramco but still forginers are doing the jobs because saudis still not capable to do themself this world biggest oil company, also if saudis never study in USA or UK I dont think you can a have better education. Only Gulf countries are the bad smokers and night club players. Paying less salaries for the employees coming from south asian countries and giving more facilties for USA, Europeans and Arabs who came from other arab countries even their not qualified. If there no south asian your country will never ever going stand. Tell your government to deport all of them immediateley and see what will going to happen to your country. You will eat nothing accept your body.

    • Osama
      September 12, 2011 at 8:38 PM

      It is clear you hate Saudi Arabia ,then why are you still here? Saudis are educated and capable of working for themselves. Thanks to our great King he made many steps to give our people the best education and now Saudis are very qualified for any job! You are wrong .. even if foreign people leave our country will still stand.

      • moayad almahi
        September 13, 2011 at 5:06 AM

        Mr.osamah,yes i hate saudis even more than u can imagine. i lived in saudi for 5 years, now im not in saudi anymore. This saudi is the worst part of earth believe me ! the saudis were uneducated people, we were the people who teached them , made them strong. your (great) king cant even read or write Not only that… he almost forgot how to say Bismillahi AlRahmani Raheem!. i wonder how can this man be a leader.and for all those who are now showing descrimination . Read the history and try to understand the word ” Saudi ” and learn how this name was born .

      • truth teller
        September 13, 2011 at 5:57 AM

        Mr.osama this is the only thing that you can’t do! standing without foreigners is IMPOSSIBLE for Saudi Kingdom ok. you got to get it! even your (great king) personally is in real need for foreigners and he can’t stand without them ! his last visit to the US was a big prove for that! ur king couldn’t find any Saudi who can be wear white coat and care of his health! what a big shame! that’s why he had to fly to an EDUCATED & TRUSTED people to care of his health.
        you got me homie?? one more thing yu should know is Saudis mindset is all about (sleep, eat, sex) when they r living within the kingdom. but when they live overseas it get even worst. a lot of missin activities will be included (clubing, smoking, homosexuality and all that rudey rudey stuff).
        Saudi mindset needs to be regenerated and reprogrammed from the 0 point!
        you guys needs an urgent prayer for really! and am always praying for yall!

  34. Bandar in USA
    September 10, 2011 at 8:37 PM

    moayad I can from your name see your arab .then you know we arabs have only one culture and dont like to have others culture mix with ours . Thats why you dont see other nationalities practice their celebrations in our country or holidays because to preserve our culture and let the children grow in it . And that is why most khaleejees dont marry from outside. ALso now Saudi Arabia has more educated people than before after the King sent hundreds thousands to USA and Europe to study and come back to work so even if it happens we can survive without the foreigners. Its not like before when we needed them for everything , And you should not say all Saudi are smoking and going to clubs . I will not say that all people from your country are smokers and do drugs because its not polite. Most Saudis are nice people who are Islamic and behave well.

  35. Javed
    September 12, 2011 at 10:05 PM

    Saudi government will never stop this inhuman kafeel system because if this system is stopped, many saudis will not have a chance to exploit foreigners either by money or work. I have been there since I was a child and wished to call it my home.

    – 90% of Saudis kafeels are feeding on foreigner income by forcing them to pay up or else.
    – most kafeels mistreat the people they sponsor and many time dont pay them
    – millions of expats were born in ksa and grow up in the culture and language but are denied birth rights and are kicked out easily if they make felonies
    – Saudi police and those in charge are fully biased and will always side with the Saudi and the expat has no chance of justice
    – the deportation methods are the worst inhumane type
    – worse there are hundreds of thousands of refugees from Palestine and other countries who have been there for over 2 generations but still regarded as refugees

    This is suppose to be a model of Islam but I see Islamic behaviour in Western nations in how they treat people, Muslim or not!

  36. Kasim
    September 13, 2011 at 12:15 PM

    I can’t understand why you Saudis hate expatriates instead of being appreciative. We expatriates are the ones who made you go from riding camels to driving Cadillacs. If it was not for expatriates, Saudis would still be living in tents and mud houses. And yes, you have oil, but what use is it if you can’t even pump it out by yourselves? If you say ARAMCO, then you know that the company was run by expatriates from the beginning until now. Who runs your factories? Who drives the long-haul buses? Who runs the gas stations? Who builds your houses and apartments? Who takes your kids to school? Who prepares your kabsa? Who brings your shisha? Who do you go to when your Camry or Accord needs an oil change or tune up? Who washes your GMC? Who do you go to when you are sick?

    I do not hate Saudis. I lived there since I was 3 years old. I am blessed to have many Saudi friends who treat me as an equal, like any other Saudi even though I am Pakistani in origin. They are among the many Saudis who see the wrong things in the country and want good changes unlike the few comments I read here which just show how ignorant some can be. Hopefully something good can come out of the king sending hundreds of thousands of students abroad for studies. Hopefully they will experience how other countries embrace and welcome all other cultures and come back home with a better appreciation and understanding for other people. For Saudi Arabia to advance toward the future it must stop this backwards bedouin mentality and embrace people from other cultures. After all, we are all Muslims and Allah created us into different tribes so that we may know each other, not belittle each other and look down upon others.

  37. Fatimah bt Saleh
    September 14, 2011 at 4:26 PM

    Bandar, are you serious? Thats a load of crap.. Are Arabs afraid they allow foreigners to become citizens? Foreigners won’t have any bigger effect than what Saudis already watch on TV. Every other country manages to maintain its culture and traditions while welcoming foreigner. I am from Malaysia and we welcome all other people and still keep our Malay culture. We are Muslim and a very cultural people and at the same time respect others cultures. Also I heard there is a very large percentage of Saudi women who are unmarried. This would not be the case if you treated foreigner like equal and allowed them to marry Saudis. It is even against Islam to reject a person because of race or ethnic background! All this while Saudi men are marrying non-Saudis. So whats your solution?

  38. reynald0matias
    September 17, 2011 at 8:08 PM

    I’m sorry to hear about your friend Sam. But as you know Saudis will not change at all. For decades human rights organisations have been asking them for better treatment of expats. The way I see it, Saudis actually want to get rid of expats and this is evident in their new draconian Saudisation policy where they are forcing private companies to hire a certain percentage of Saudis or else get shut down. So this iqama business is to simplify the process of expelling the workers. The only way to get help is connections.

  39. stuckinsaudi
    October 16, 2011 at 8:48 PM

    for heavens sake, good Saudi people dont exist year long. Ramdaan, yes I sea lot of benevolescence. Then we hae the pride of being Saudi, with our slave lash around our head and our walk like phirauns. Saudis I love you as a muslim and hate you as a human.

  40. noneed
    March 25, 2012 at 3:31 PM

    my frined just explained a part of what is in saudi arabia there are alot of things have not been explained in here the cruelity reaches to the extent that sponsor ships can abuse sexually their sponsories if they are ladies and may hand them over to other friend as a gift for sexual use alot and lot of things are out there and the us is quite for the sack of oil fuck us and saudi

  41. April 1, 2012 at 6:11 PM

    Saudi Arabia close to abolishing the sponsorship system for expatriate workers

  42. 3AZAAQ son of Yushja3
    July 2, 2012 at 10:11 AM

    Like Mr Bandar says we are Arab , we don’t copy other cultures , we gulf people don’t marry others….. Sounds Interesting , Well everyone who gonna read this read it carefully i need to point out some very interesting facts behind this “Arab” and it culture. here we go;

    Arab : In present world it represents anyone who speak Arabic as their 1st language,their mother tongue. but be-careful my dear readers the word “ARAB” in real goes for a specific race to which only certain group of people belongs.so its a racial word.

    The Arab Geologists have divided Arabs in 2 groups ; One who are the REAL ARABS and one who are the Arabised Arabs ( Wanna be arabs or Fake Arabs).

    The REAL ARABS are the people who are the children of AL QAHTAN ibn Heber ibn Sam , These arabs are known as ” ARAB A’ARIBAH” meaning the pure arabs.they came from Yemen.

    The Fake Arabs or Arabised Arabs are the children of Prophet Ismael ibn Prophet Ibrahim, these people are known as ” ARAB MUSTAAREBAH” meaning the ARABISED arabs or people who were not arabs , became arab by adopting arabic language and the culture. as we all Know Prophet Ibrahim was not arab and so does his son Ishaaq (Father of Israelis) and Ismaael (Father of Arabised Arabs).

    The interesting fact is that the mother of ismael was HAJAR , who was an ethopian slave of Egypt King and he gave her as a gift to Sarah the 1st wife of Prophet Ibrahim , and both Sarah and Ibrahim kept HAJAR as a Slave and a maid servant. Hence Hajar was originally a SLAVE ( 3BEEDAH ) and also a maid ( KHADAAMAH or SHAGAALAH ).

    So, hectically the Arab Mustareebah (Banu 3dnan ibn Ismael )are the Blood of a Slave (3BEEDAH ) and a maid.. The famous preset Arab Mustareebah tribes are AL ANIZZAH , AL OTAIBI , AL MUTAIRI , AR RABIAH etc. So Mr.Al Otaibi you are generation of a 3BEEDAH .

    Now talking about Inter Marriages , lol prophet ibrahim married Hajar who was from another nation , then his son ismael married a girl from the tribe of Jurhum who was also from another nation (Yemeni) , when the origins of Arab Mustareebah are of mixed origins , what the hell they talk about strict code of marriages between same race, this makes me laugh.

    Some Interesting Fact , throughout the time until now the Pure Arabs (ARAB A’ARAIBAH) they hate the Arabised Arabs (ARAB MUSTAAREBAH ) , thats why there was many wars between the two groups because they ARAB A’ARIBAH (Banu QAHTAN) have always looked down upon the ARAB MUSTAAREBAH because of their lineage coming from a slave and maid hajar. the Isarelis also looked down upon these ARAB A’ARIBAH because of their lineage and so do romans and persians looked down upon these nomadic JAHILEEN.

    Talking about culture lol , who eat KFC , Herfy , Mcdonalds , Pizza , Shawerma (Turkish food) , Pasta , Lasagnia , Pies , Cakes , Baskin Robin , (All Western Food) , who wears t-shirts , jeans , apply french perfumes , italian hair styles , who drink pepsi , Coke , Barbican , – all these are adopted by Saudis and it became part of their culture. So Mr.Bandar stop this 1st for your society , then think about expats culture lol, ur a typical USA brainwashed slave minded.

    But my friends give them a chance to be a bit cruel , because all through the time since prophet ismael till just 1950 these people were soo poor that they used to live in extreme heat in desert , live on dates and little water for a whole day , sometime when the water was not available they used to drink the Urine of Camel , they used to fight within themselves for a piece of small pasture of land for their cattle and camels. Now when they got some money after more than 4000 years of hunger , poverty and patience , we shouldn’t be surprised if they are behaving like animals because of intense happiness from money .

    Lastly , a day will come when these gulf people will fight each other soo furiously that 1 man will be left in every house and then they will go and seek help from a man from the generation of prophet MOHAMMED PBUH who will be called as AL MAHDI (The Guider ) , and this man together with Prophet Isaa will fight and dajaal (Anti christ ) and the world will be with such peace and harmony like it was never before.

    Note: Saudi is meant only for the people from AL -SAUD tribe , Mr.al Otaibi you’re from the tribe of BANI 3UTAIBAH , and like many others you all are from other tribes ,call yourself from the name of that tribe , don’t call yourself SAUDI ,because it mean Ur the SLAVE OR 3BEED OF AL SAUD TRIBE .

    • Ahmad
      October 3, 2012 at 2:42 AM

      You made me become your fan! <3
      What a classic reply… Well said!

  43. Saber
    July 21, 2012 at 4:26 PM

    From October 2009 until now, July 2012, accounts for three (3) years shy of a couple of months, yes? …
    Well, this is how long I have not been able to hug my three (3) children who are living outside of Saudi Arabia while I am stuck here due to the injustice of the sponsorship system which I have fell victim to.
    My story began in 2006 when a Saudi sponsor brought me into the country to work in a very senior position and after two (2) years I was retained by a well-known Saudi family business to work as an advisor to the President. My sponsorship was ‘internally transferred’ to this new sponsor and we had signed a two (2) years closed contract. Only one (1) year later I was in labor disaccord with some of his old time senior management who worked to sideline me through what they claim to be “Saudisation”, or bringing on board a Saudi to replace me in this senior position.
    I accepted their decision but asked for my rights in accordance with the closed term contract. According to the Saudi labor law, this would have entitled me to either full or partial compensation due to the fact that the employer initiated ending the contract. The President of the company did not have cash flow to pay me and was paying all employees their monthly salaries 2 months late.
    Realising that they would have to pay me they asked me to stay on but work as secretary to the president! I hold a post graduate degree from a North American university and have always worked in senior advisory positions, so I refused and submitted my resignation asking them to look into compensating me according to the contract.
    They resorted to the dirtiest game in the book by reporting me absent from work, and this is punishable by deportation according to the Ministry of Labor and Ministry of Interior.
    From the Fall of 2009 to date, I have been battling deportation staying in the Kingdom trying to find every imaginable solution and take any venue that includes me being subject to pay a very large sum of money to people who know people-who know people, etc. Even though I have put up the money, I have been waiting and waiting and still waiting. I parted away from my friends because they told me I was mad to endure this and should just move out of here.
    I know deep inside me that I have been subjected to a shameful act of human indecency that has little or no regard for what happens not just to one individual but to all family members attached to the person they hurt.
    I am leaving out other details but it will not be difficult for any of you to imagine how tragic and demoralizing this very true story is to me as a father to two girls and a boy. Why should I have to miss the graduation of my children from school? Why do I have to be deprived from seeing my elderly mother before she passes away?!
    If this thing can happen to a senior man, both in age and education, and to someone wh so much valuable experience; then something is definitely wrong with this sponsorship system, and I am a living example of how badly wrong it is. Something drastic and quick must happen so that no more people will be subjected to horrible suffrage like I have been subjected to.

  44. August 27, 2012 at 5:04 PM

    You know the guy who advised to go to the police does not have a clue that what sort of arrogant people are there in the police station. Personally I have seen real discrimination from police in the cases which were clearly on the side of expatriate but was discriminated because his case was against a Saudi citizen. I can mention thousand cases where the expatriates are discriminated and expelled from the police stations and their complaints are not even heard.

  45. August 27, 2012 at 5:16 PM

    There is no contract even written with me by the company which i am working for. I have been promised that my salary will increase and still after passing 1 and half year with the company here in saudi arabia, I am being deprived of basic rights. There is no written contract with me and every time i ask for contact the company hesitate to provide me with that. For the past 1and half year I am working on the wage of labour although I am Engineer. I am being exploited because i have some personal problems in my home country. I am the only supporter of my family in homeland. I got offers in other companies for good wages but i cannot switch my job because my company is not giving release. We cannot do anything unless this system is fully wiped out and even we cannot complain about this system otherwise we will be arrested.

  46. syed
    September 23, 2012 at 10:31 AM

    Saudi arabs people are muslims and all we are brother but the Sponser System are Bad
    If Saudi government finish it then good but they cannot done because some People
    will be unhappy as their income related to it. Many people come to saudi arab but the iqama system make them very disappoint.

  47. December 5, 2012 at 10:39 AM

    oops ova biarch

  48. Azhar
    March 22, 2013 at 8:18 PM

    I have been living in Saudi Arabia for past 9 years with one Kafil and every year at the time of Iqama renewal I pay my Kafil a Hefty amount for my Iqama renewal. Once I got a good job in a multinational pharmaceutical company and the company gave me a demand letter for my transfer, I went to my Kafil with the demand letter and requested him to give the needed documents along with my passport he asked 25000 Riyals in return to release me. I didn’t have that much money to pay him and went back dejected and later I was asked to leave the job at Glaxo Smith Kline as I was unable to transfer my sponsorship to the company. Eight months back my Kafil asked 8000 riyals and at that timeI was jobless for a long time and I told him the same thing that I am jobless and I cannot pay you anything and requested him to give me final exit. He insisted me to stay till validity of my Iqama. Now when there is only one month left in my Iqama to expire I am running around him like anything to stamp me final exit on my passport so that I can leave the country but he isn’t responding my cry. Last week I went to one of the agents outside the Jawadat office in Riyadh to check the status of my passport and there I found he has put me on Haroof and now my kafil is asking me to pay 15000 riyals to remove Haroof from my passport. I feel so dejected and helpless I don’t have money for my survival and how am I going to pay him 15000. Everything looks doomed for me. If anyone willing to help me out and has any good suggestions please contact me immediately.

    • Saber
      March 23, 2013 at 1:00 PM

      Dear Azhar,

      I am sorry to hear about your sad situation. “Horoob” or “Escape” will mean that you get deported and cannot return to Saudi Arabia for five (5) full years. You did nothing against the labour law but your sponsor decided to exploit you and submitted this malicious “escape report” to Passports office. You don’t have the money and you also lost alot of money because he did not give you transfer. He is the one who did something wrong against the labor law. Either you pack up and get deported and he wins or submit a complaint to the labour office that he sponsor mistreated you. It does not cost you money but you need to be strong and patient. You will have to choose between these two options or borrow money and pay him with no gurantee that he will not trick you again! This is so unfair and God will punish him for this … there is no doubt about it that he will lose big time in this life and the life hereafer. Something very bad will happen to him and his family because he mistreated you this way.

      • Azhar
        March 23, 2013 at 1:42 PM

        Dear Saber,

        Thanks for your kind reply. Actually I did evaluated all the options you mentioned. Whatever happened to me was destined to happen and I can’t blame anyone but wholeheartedly accept I am the culprit and at the first I should have not boarded the flight to this hell on earth. This place has been a worst nightmare for me and I pray Allah to erase these 9 years from my life so that I can pretend nothing wrong has happened to me and carry on with my future life. Here is a story where a hungry stray dog did not had anything to eat the whole day and in the evening he sat beside a railway track and a train went off cutting his tail. The dog got mad and ran after the train and when he catches the train he tried to bite its wheel and in the meanwhile he loses his head, so the moral of the story is never lose your head over a piece of tail. I don’t have the means nor resources to stay here and put resistance and I don’t want to run around the labor courts and lose anything more. The other option of paying him more to remove Horoob is also not viable, first I don’t have the money and even if I pay then as you said what is the assurance that he will remove Haroob on me. All I want is I have 12 more days left in my Iqama and my only wish to him is to remove Haroob and stamp final exit on my passport so that I can go back with some broken pride.

      • Saber
        March 24, 2013 at 6:08 PM

        Dear Azhar,

        Please do not consider yourself as Culprit or wrong doer. Your decision to come into KSA seeking work is no different from 15 million other expats working here who came to earn honest living by using their needed skills. Leaving here will cut your loses but it also leaves you feeling hurt and angry about the injustice done unto you by very unfair sponsor who does not fear God. Go ahead and return to your homeland where your family and friends will understand exactly what happened to you and will not find it in their hearts to blame you but rather to provide you with their love and support once they see you back amongst them. God will take care of providing for you and your family and don’t forget that “what goes around comes around”…trust in God and he will take care of things you could not take care of yourself. Never look back … try to have a positive outlook and breath with a sigh of relief that you will be free from the malice of your sponsor and all others like him. Stay proud in your abilities and your contributions and remain hopeful for a good future. Human beings can never control your destiny neither can they be the source for your financial stability. There is a God after all and because you are amongst the weak and disadvantaged individuals who fell victim to an outdated system , you can rest asured that one day not long away God will claim definate and supreme victory over this injustice .

      • Azhar
        March 24, 2013 at 8:27 PM

        Thanks a lot for responding me with so wonderful replies and you really make me feel like I am talking to someone who is very close, compassionate and have a great deal of understanding towards me. I have read your story and my assumption is, unlike me you have a very high caliber background and seems like no one is immune to this desert venom, and I really feel sorry for what all has happened to you. To be honest I disliked this place not Saudi in particular but whole of Arabia, right from my childhood day, as I have on hand seen most of my animated relatives turn out into mortals once they fly to Middle East for their living. I really had some different plans for myself and never wanted to come here and I was working accordingly to pursue my goals in my own ways. But destiny had stored something else for me and due of some unavoidable circumstances lack of proper planning and recklessness, life forcefully compelled me to take a wrong decision which unknowingly threw me on a wrong trajectory which turned out to be a terrible nemesis for my life. The more I tried to come out of this peril I am into now the deeper I got into it. I have really tried hard to pull myself out of this quagmire and have monetarily put in everything I have with hope someday things will change and life will become better for me – but it didn’t. I am not just sharing with you my helplessness and my sad situation but using this forum to reach as many innocent people as I can, to make them understand and let them know who unknowingly gamble their lives in search of pasture in this simmering desert and to educate them how hapless this place can turn out to be. I know I am not the only one who is suffering and grilling through this rotten hell filled with insane towel heads, but there are many many people like me and some of them I know them personally have been ruined by these mad towel heads.

  49. Azhar
    March 24, 2013 at 8:27 PM

    Dear Saber,

    Thanks a lot for responding me with so wonderful replies and you really make me feel like I am talking to someone who is very close, compassionate and have a great deal of understanding towards me. I have read your story and my assumption is, unlike me you have a very high caliber background and seems like no one is immune to this desert venom, and I really feel sorry for what all has happened to you. To be honest I disliked this place not Saudi in particular but whole of Arabia, right from my childhood day, as I have on hand seen most of my animated relatives turn out into mortals once they fly to Middle East for their living. I really had some different plans for myself and never wanted to come here and I was working accordingly to pursue my goals in my own ways. But destiny had stored something else for me and due of some unavoidable circumstances lack of proper planning and recklessness, life forcefully compelled me to take a wrong decision which unknowingly threw me on a wrong trajectory which turned out to be a terrible nemesis for my life. The more I tried to come out of this peril I am into now the deeper I got into it. I have really tried hard to pull myself out of this quagmire and have monetarily put in everything I have with hope someday things will change and life will become better for me – but it didn’t. I am not just sharing with you my helplessness and my sad situation but using this forum to reach as many innocent people as I can, to make them understand and let them know who unknowingly gamble their lives in search of pasture in this simmering desert and to educate them how hapless this place can turn out to be. I know I am not the only one who is suffering and grilling through this rotten hell filled with insane towel heads, but there are many many people like me and some of them I know them personally have been ruined by these mad towel heads.

  50. alex
    January 15, 2014 at 8:41 PM

    Still hoping that tomorrow will a new brighter day for me my collegue and to our beloved family.thank you.

  51. Saumu
    January 20, 2014 at 8:48 AM

    My nephew has a kafeel who has put him in police for more than three weeks for having an accident.he forced him to sign a document in Arabic which states that he did the accident intentionally(Allahu ya allam) of which is not true.he also stated my nephew ran away from home for three days……which is also a lie.now he wants us to pay him a new Mercedes car which we cannot afford.only then will he let him out of custody.it hurts knowing that he had finished his contract and was waiting for a new driver to start work so he can go home.i am feeling so frustrated because the police station also says that unless the kafeel signs him out,he will have to stay in custody.my efforts to negotiate with the kafeel have not been fruitful.i don’t mind him deporting him…..accidents do happen everywhere.

  52. October 18, 2014 at 9:28 PM

    If you are new to Saudi Arabia or does not know in detail about the Kafeel (sponsorship) system here, this is a perfect guide for you. I have narrated all the powers, rights and duties of Kafeel (Sponsor) in this link. I have also listed the tricks and tips through which one can avoid the wrong attitude from Kafeel’s side. It is a must read especially for the newcomers in Saudi Arabia.

    http://life-in-saudiarabia.blogspot.com/2014/02/kafeel-system-in-saudi-arabia_13.html

  53. September 3, 2011 at 12:34 PM

    Chris.. those who abuse the system are a small number compared to the majority of good Saudi people. The system needs adjusting but in every country there are people who get mistreatment in salary or other ways.. most foreign workers in Saudi Arabia enjoy all benefits and good life and they get help when mistreated. I know many Saudis who were mistreated in USA but I am not saying all Americans are bad people,, so dont look at the few bad Saudis who give us a bad impression but see the good ones. Come to Saudi Arabia any time and I will show you true Saudi hospitality.!

  54. noneed
    March 25, 2012 at 3:34 PM

    gademet you are just stupid saudi only 2% of the population is nice and law ful while the remaining 98% they are almost satans you you are forced to pay them from 4000 to 8000 every two years except the government fees and you may be asked to serve them in man power if ladies they may be required to serve them sexually which is very irritating to hear even i have been there for 3 years and was really mad with the sys. so you say it the same like in the other world may be i think there will not be such abusse in the hele even

  55. Saber
    September 20, 2012 at 3:45 PM

    Thank you Mr. “S3oodi”. Yes, not all Saudis are to blame for the abuses of the sponsorship system. Yes, there are very nice and hospitable Saudis. Yes, it is good to forgive and forget because there is a God who looks after justice and will judge the abusers . For those who made me suffer for 3 years, those who did not pay me US85K in entitlments and caused me to pay US13K to remove a block from passport office on my travel outside of KSA….I say “May God Forgive You and Guide You…Please do not do it what you had done to me anymore, and please stop hurting people without just cause…” Thank You God for taking care of me throughout my 3 years of continuous suffering…

  56. December 5, 2012 at 11:04 AM

    im a kuwaiti live in new zealandi hv heard dat saudis sponcers are cheatin wid foreignerz.its not gud to do bad wid anybody Allah sees erythn.ma msg fa saudis be lyk kuwaitis n stop oll dat dumbaz work..

  57. 1FriendInNeed
    February 20, 2013 at 11:57 PM

    Mr. Saber, can I contact you for more info, a friend of mine is in similar situation and we all are worried but we don’t know what to do as we work for the same sponsor..now are you safely out side KSA??

  58. Saber
    February 21, 2013 at 9:59 AM

    Dear Mr. 1FriendInNeed, few months ago I was able to obtain a residency on a new sponsor after a very heavy financial burden paid to a number of facilitators whom I have never met; but upon return from one of my business trips I was asked by the passports office at the airport to go and check my status with the immigration office. When I went there I found out that I am black listed again and I am now unable to travel out of KSA. I am going through the same hell all over again !!! I know exactly why this happened but I will keep it to myself until I am safe from the malicious people behind it. It’s like a horror movie in series 1,2, 3…

  1. May 25, 2013 at 11:26 PM

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