IMPACT – MEDIUM

Saudi Arabia has dramatically stepped up enforcement operations, arresting 24,000 foreign nationals on immigration or labor violations last week.

According to widespread media reports:

  • Saudi authorities arrested 24,000 people in a three-day period last week, including 15,702 for violations of their residency (iqama) regulations.
  • More than 40 percent of the arrests were made in Makkah and nearly 20 percent in Riyadh. Arrests were also made in the Asir region, Jazan and in the country’s eastern provinces.
  • Authorities also arrested 25 Saudi nationals for transporting or providing shelter to foreign nationals in the country illegally.

Background: The enforcement campaign follows an extended amnesty period during which foreign nationals with irregular immigration status were given the chance to either correct their status or leave the country without penalty. The amnesty ended last week and authorities subsequently launched a strict enforcement effort.

BAL Analysis: The enforcement campaign is a sign of how serious Saudi Arabia is about enforcing its immigration and labor laws. It comes amid a broader effort to ensure that companies are doing more to provide job opportunities to Saudi nationals before filling jobs with foreign workers.