Saudi Arabia: Sit-In Strategy Of Expats Pays Off


Thousands of undocumented expatriates are desperately seeking to get arrested and deported, as a last resort to end their plight.

Large numbers of expatriates in Jeddah and other cities in the Western Province are determined to leave the Kingdom as most of them have failed to meet the conditions laid down by the authorities at the Deportation Center during the grace period. They are now desperately looking for avenues that will land them in a police vehicle, the first step to going home.

Security forces detained more than 20,000 undocumented expats in the first two days of their inspection campaign in the western and southern regions of the Kingdom. Most of the foreigners arrested are from Indonesia and Yemen. In Jeddah alone, 12,091 expatriates were arrested, and the figure is increasing daily.

The Palestine overpass at the intersection of Prince Majed Street has virtually turned into a “check-in counter” for visa violators who wish to return to their countries. Thousands of expats have been frequenting this place and staging sit-ins demanding arrest for the past three days.

On Monday, thousands of visa violators including women and children from Indonesia, Pakistan, Ethiopia and Somalia staged a sit-in under the overpass requesting to be deported.

The crowd swelled by the minute with expatriates arriving in taxis with their travel bag and photocopies of their travel documents.

Speaking to Arab News, they said their attempts at the Deportation Center over the past five months of the amnesty period had failed, and this was their only recourse to return home.

Mohammed Khalid, a Pakistani expatriate, said: “They can only arrest and imprison me and that is exactly what I am looking for.”

The credit for this modus operandi goes to Indonesian expats who chose this spot for their arrest the day after the amnesty ended. They staged a sit-in for 12 hours, and were finally picked up by the police who bundled them into dozens of buses and shifted them to the Deportation Center in Makkah. The following day, hundreds of Yemenis followed the same route for arrest but in different parts of the city.

Pakistani visa violators were the next to gather followed by Ethiopians, Somalis and people of other nationalities. About 600 Filipino violators mainly women and children were arrested by security forces near the Philippine Consulate in the Rehab district and shifted to Shumaisy Deportation Center in Makkah.

Jazan and Najran in the south, both considered gateway to Saudi Arabia for Yemenis, Somalis and Eritreans, also faced similar situations with thousands of Yemeni expats gathering in various places to be arrested.

In Jazan alone, 11,000 Yemeni violators were detained in one day.

According to diplomatic sources, security authorities are dealing with illegal expatriates in a cooperative and humane way.

Undocumented expats who get arrested are transferred to the new deportation center in Shumaisy, which was opened at the end of the grace period.

“All arrested expatriate will be scrutinized by security authorities for possible involvement in any crime and their nationality will be confirmed by the consulate of their country. Only then will they be deported,” said Nawaf Al-Bouq of Jeddah police.

Arab News

Arab News is Saudi Arabia's first English-language newspaper. It was founded in 1975 by Hisham and Mohammed Ali Hafiz. Today, it is one of 29 publications produced by Saudi Research & Publishing Company (SRPC), a subsidiary of Saudi Research & Marketing Group (SRMG).

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