Saudi crackdown hits food supplies

A satirical song about the Saudi crackdown on migrants has become a hit on YouTube. “Ja Jawazat” – depicting Asians without passports – has been viewed more than a million times since it was posted in June.
Saudi Arabia’s ill-conceived crackdown on migrants continues to take its toll, and one of the latest victims is the kingdom’s harvest. Arab News reports “an acute shortage” of farm labourers at a critical time for the crops. The labourers of course are – or rather, were – mostly foreigners.

The paper adds:

“Farm-related sectors have also been adversely affected by the scarcity of manpower. Many workshops for tractor repairs, water pumps and shops selling landscaping equipment and water supply pipes have closed down.”

Imports of fresh produce from other countries have also dropped as a result of the labour shortage, causing a rise in food prices.

Meanwhile, the number of empty properties for rent is growing as expatriates leave – which presumably will not please their Saudi owners. Al-Watan newspaper reported that rents in shared accommodation for single workers on the Eastern Province have 
dropped by as much as 25%.

Saudi expulsions crisis: full coverage

Saudi property agent Ali al-Nasseri said the average rent for each expatriate worker was SR1,000 ($267) a year, which has now come down to less than SR750.

"A room that is six square metres and can accommodate eight people is usually rented out at SR6,500 per annum …

"Many of these rooms are now vacant following the departure of the expatriates.”

Yesterday, police in Makkah said they have detained 4,060 “illegal workers” since the crackdown began on November 4. Nationwide, the total runs into tens of thousands and the largest group affected seem to be Yemenis – 20,000 of whom have reportedly been expelled.

On Tuesday, 11 Yemenis died in a road accident, along with a Saudi, as they were being driven towards the border. 


A group of 600 Filipinos are in the process of being 
sent back to their typhoon-hit country. Whether as a coincidence or an attempt to head off criticism of this, Saudi Arabia yesterday presented the Philippines ambassador with a $100,000 cheque towards disaster relief.

Other undocumented Filipinos have set up a tented encampment near their consulate in Jeddah, to await arrest. Arab News says:

“Many women come by taxis in the morning and stay throughout the day before returning home in the evening. Some, however, stay put in the night in the hope they will be arrested.

“With so many fresh arrivals, officials are clueless about the actual number of violators.

“Unlike other nationalities, Philippine visa violators are better organised and possess basic supplies in their stay with many of them following their progress on the internet.”

It appears they have given up any hope of staying in the kingdom and now want to be sent home as quickly as possible.


The situation regarding Ethiopians has turned very nasty. Following street battles at the weekend, anti-Ethiopian sentiment is running high – with a strong streak of racism. This is from Arab News

“I have hired maids from different nationalities but I should say Ethiopians are the most arrogant and stubborn ones,” says Arwa Al-Hilal, a working Saudi mother. “I did have two Ethiopian maids previously and both of them were too hard to handle and always spoke back to us, although we paid their wages on time.”

Mahmood Abu-Ahmed, a Saudi businessman, is firm on his decision of letting go of his Ethiopian maid, saying that the crime during the clashes pressed him to do so.

“I have always feared leaving my children under their care. After several dangerous crimes involving Ethiopian maids killing and hurting children of their sponsors, it has always bugged me.”

Such is the animosity that the Ethiopian ambassador had to issue a statement denying claims that housemaids from his country are actually witches. Most Ethiopians are either Muslims or Christians and their beliefs prevent them from practising sorcery, he said.
Posted by Brian Whitaker
Thursday, 14 November 2013