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Kuwait deports four expats for driving without licences

Kuwait is deporting four foreigners who were arrested for driving without licences.

The move is in line with a decision by Interior Minister Shaikh Mohammad Al Khalid to deport any expatriate caught driving without a licence.

Under the decision announced this week, the driver faces deportation within hours for breaking the country’s laws.

The sponsor is informed about the deportation and he is requested to hand over the expatriate's passport and to buy him a one-way ticket, local daily Al Rai reported on Tuesday.

Kuwaiti authorities said they wanted to ensure full compliance with the law and to address chaotic situations on the roads.

A study commissioned to look into the status of foreign drivers in the country has recommended raising the fee to obtain a driving licence for expatriates to KD300.

An initial recommendation was KD500, but the interior ministry suggested lowering it.

The move aims to limit the number of foreign drivers on the country’s increasingly congested roads.

Around two thirds of Kuwait’s total population of 3.2 million are foreigners, mainly domestics helpers and unskilled labourers from Asian countries working in the service and construction sectors.

A traffic official said that around 9,000 driving licences have been revoked from foreigners, mainly stay-at-home wives who took up jobs and who under the new rules have to submit new applications.

Kuwait has launched several campaigns to address deficiencies and abuses on the roads that have gained an unwanted notoriety as chaotic and dangerous in the absence of an adequate driving culture and full compliance with rules and regulations.
  • Published in Kuwait

Expat hopes dashed as nationality rumor quashed

The Ministry of Interior’s civil affairs department on Tuesday dashed the hopes of thousands of expats when it denied a report that had gone viral on social media sites that children born in the Kingdom to Saudi mothers and foreign fathers would be given citizenship.

“There is no truth to the report,” said Mohammed Al-Jasser, spokesman of the department that processes citizenship applications. He also denied reports that the Council of Ministers had amended the citizenship law to this effect. “All these reports are totally false,” the spokesman said.

This would disappoint many expats, especially Arabs, who were overjoyed by the report, thinking it would end their family problems.

Al-Jasser urged the public not to follow rumors and ensure the authenticity of reports before circulating them.

The video report, quoting MBC channel, said all those born in Saudi Arabia would be given citizenship when they reach puberty. Then they would be given a grace period of a year to either select Saudi citizenship or keep their original citizenship.

Some of the report’s portions had been removed to mislead public. Saudi analyst Badr Almotawa said it was unrealistic to think Saudi Arabia would liberalize citizenship regulations. “Western countries that provide citizenship to foreigners get financial benefits in terms of taxes. There is no tax in Saudi Arabia and the government provides many services such as water, electricity and oil on heavily subsidized rates,” he told Arab News. “We should be realistic when we talk about citizenship in the Kingdom. It implies so many things, such as additional economic burden and pressure on public utilities,” he said. However, Almotawa pointed out that the Kingdom had given citizenship to thousands of people in the past.

The rumor stated that men would be given citizenship immediately while women would only get identity cards, with full citizenship granted when they marry Saudis. “This measure was taken to prevent her foreign husband from benefiting from her citizenship such as opening business ventures,” the report said.

Arab News found the same report on Al-Arabiya.net, which was published on March 31, 2007 quoting Maj. Gen. Abdul Qader Kamal, a member of the Shoura Council’s security committee.

At least 10,000 foreign children are born in the Kingdom annually, the report added.

In September 2013, the Cabinet decided to give foreign mothers of Saudi children permanent residence in the Kingdom without sponsors.
  • Published in Saudi Arabia

Expats’ fingerprinting expedited

Riyadh: The Passport Department has expedited the fingerprint registration of sponsors and residents accompanied by dependents above 15 ahead of the Jan. 21 deadline.
“Those who have failed to get their fingerprints registered risk denial of access to all passport department services including the request for an exit-re-entry visa during an emergency,” said the spokesman of the department, Maj. Ahmad bin Fahd Al-Luhaidan.
He added that the only service that could be availed without fingerprints was the iqama renewals for female members of the family but even this would be required after the deadline is over. “All services will now be fully online,” he stressed.
Al-Luhaidan told Arab News that the department has completed linking the fingerprint registration with all passport services including iqama issuance and renewal, exit-re-entry visas, change of profession and information transfers.
The department has mobilized all its passport offices across the Kingdom to take fingerprint registrations, he said.
It also worked to deploy mobile units for this purpose to facilitate people living in remote locations in addition to providing an online fingerprint checking service for residents, he said.
  • Published in Saudi Arabia

624 illegal expats held in Riyadh

Riyadh: The Ministry of Interior has arrested 624 illegal workers over the past few days in Riyadh.
This was the combined total from two separate raids carried out this week. On Wednesday, the police carried out a predawn raid in four districts of the capital. A senior police officer said those arrested included 82 Ethiopian women and 13 men wanted for various crimes in the Kingdom. 
A total of 236 were from Manfouha. Besides Asian expatriates, Manfouha district has many Ethiopian and Yemeni residents. The police conduct frequent raids in this area to arrest illegal expatriates. Riyadh Gov. Prince Turki bin Abdullah bin Abdul Aziz personally led a raid in the district a few months ago. 
The police also raided the areas of Ataiga, Rawdah and Al-Miqla, the officer said. Most of those arrested carried forged documents and were working as construction workers and pavement vendors. Officers also targeted people involved in various crimes including theft, sorcery, employing illegal workers and brewing liquor.
The ministry announced that it had arrested more than 100,000 illegal foreigners over the past year in the Eastern Province.
According to official sources, most crimes in the Kingdom are committed by illegal residents who have overstayed their visas. During the amnesty period that ended on Nov. 1, 2013, illegal residents were allowed to leave the Kingdom without any penalties.

  • Published in Saudi Arabia

Runaway expats allowed to avoid jail and go home

Jeddah: In a major concession for hundreds of expats classified as runaway or huroob cases, the government has announced that they can avoid jail and go home provided they have no criminal cases pending, settle outstanding fines, pay for their tickets, and have an undertaking from their consulates that they would leave in 72 hours.
These are the conditions contained in a circular sent out to all consulates by Muhammad Abdulwahab Nugali, representative of the Foreign Ministry at the General Services Center at Shumaisi, the deportation center near Makkah.
Arab News obtained a copy of the circular, dated Nov. 18, from Pakistan Consul General Aftab Khokher. He said this concession being granted by the Saudi government was first proposed by the Pakistani mission because of the many distressed workers from his country.
“Such cases will now be processed by the consulate,” said Khokher on Wednesday. “Those who have been declared huroob will not have to spend time in jail as was the case in the past.” Khokher said the government’s conditions say the workers must be taken by their consulates to the Shumaisi center for fingerprinting. They should also have passports issued by their consulates.
Khokher said the consulate would now start registering these workers and find out if they are facing any criminal charges or have to pay fines. 
“Once everything is clear, we will take these workers in groups to the deportation center for fingerprinting and get their exit papers processed,” he said.
Khokher described this as a major relief.
“Sometime back we had a meeting with passport officials at the deportation center and I pointed out that those caught up in huroob cases face immense difficulties and that consulates should be allowed to take up their cases just as with Umrah, Haj and visit visa overstayers,” he said. “The authorities saw reason in our argument and have now given the consulates permission to take up huroob cases.”
Khokher said that in the past there was no relief for huroob cases. Even during the previous general amnesties, huroob cases were not considered. 
An expatriate who was declared a runaway had to go back to his sponsor and police to sort things out. The consulate had no role to play. 
“This concession is therefore very significant,” said Khokher.
Many expatriates, especially from South and Southeast Asian countries, had complained in the past about being declared absconders by unscrupulous sponsors eager to settle scores or obstruct lawsuits.
Once an expatriate was declared an absconder he or she could not go home through regular procedures. The Saudi police had to arrest and detain the person at the local deportation center.
According to experts, the huroob clauses in current Saudi law have been abused by some sponsors. Government rules allow sponsors to declare employees who have not shown up for work as absconders. The sponsors would register these workers as runaways at their local deportation center by providing their iqama and passport details, which are then registered on the Passport Department system.
  • Published in Gulf News

Saudi Arabia: Fingerprinting is Must for expat Family

The Passports Department has made mandatory for dependents of expat workers including women and children above 15 to have their fingerprints taken at its offices across the Kingdom.

In Jeddah, special arrangements have been made to register the fingerprints of expat women and children as part of the second phase of the registration program.

“All expat women and children above 15 must record their fingerprints,” Khalaf Al-Tuwairgi, director of Passports department in the Makkah region, told Arab News in an exclusive interview.

The director advised expat women and children to bring their original passports and iqamas with them for the registration.

“The biometric scanning will be recorded at the main Passport office in Shaikh Ibn Jubair Street (Indonesian Consulate road) in Rehab district from 7:30 a.m. to 2:00 p.m. and in the evening at the Red Sea Mall from 4:30 p.m. to 10:00 p.m.” he said. He added that additional centers would be opened up in other parts of the city if needed.

He said the new measure for expat dependents will be implemented from Nov. 23.

Expat dependents should get biometrics done to avail Passport Office services, he added.
  • Published in Saudi Arabia

Expats manning mall’s women-only shops held

Jeddah: In a major crackdown, the Labor Ministry launched on Tuesday an inspection campaign targeting a leading mall in east Jeddah where expatriate men were engaged in selling women’s accessories.
The campaign is in line with the implementation of the third stage of the feminization of women-only stores in Jeddah. The mall, housing a large number of women’s accessory shops, is dominated by Bangladeshis and Yemenis, according to sources.

Inspection teams, backed by security forces, clamped down on the mall and found scores of men engaged in jobs meant for Saudi women. The teams also found a large number of expatriates doing jobs contrary to the profession mentioned in their iqamas.“We won’t spare any mall or shop employing expatriate men to sell women’s accessories,” said Abdul Monem Al-Shahri, director general of the ministry in the Makkah region. 

Al-Shahri said the ministry had all the data of women-only stores being run and managed by expatriates and would continue conducting inspections to weed out the unlawful practice.The inspection also uncovered a Yemeni with a Saudi ID pretending to be a citizen. He later confessed he was cheating, according to officials.Similar raids were conducted simultaneously in leading markets in Yanbu where pharmacies selling women’s items were targeted besides regular shops that sell perfumes and women’s items.

The ministry also stated that men and women will work at different times of the day separate from each other and that women’s working hours will be from 9 a.m. to 11 p.m. Additionally, shops that employ three or more Saudi women will have to employ one Saudi woman as their supervisor or manager. All violating shops will be categorized in the red zone of Nitaqat. Employment of expatriate women at these stores will lead to a fine ranging between SR3, 000 and SR10, 000 for each non-Saudi female employee. 

The employer will also be banned from obtaining visas or renewing the iqamas of their employees. Furthermore, any Saudi woman who helps a business by agreeing to register her name without working there will be deprived of the financial support provided by the Human Resource Development Fund for at least three years if it is her first violation. And if she repeats the offense, she will be deprived of the support for five years.  The ministry plans to achieve its goal of feminizing all shops selling women’s accessories by October 2016.

  • Published in Saudi Arabia
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