Monday, 25 May 2009

How typical of Saudi officials

So now Saudi has come up with a rule requiring Expatriates to register their fingerprints. Not that theres anything wrong with this law but what happens when these expatriates are not properly informed? chaos ensues!

Heres' what the Arab News had to say:

Fingerprinting confusion confounds expats

Arab News - 25 May, 2009

Saudi Arabia is undergoing an identity crisis; not its own but that of millions of expatriate workers in the Kingdom.

Saudi law now requires that all expatriate iqama holders and their dependents register their fingerprints with the government. The crisis stems from a deadline — May 25 — that has been set for registration.

That much is clear. However what happens if expatriates fail to register? It is an area of such Byzantine confusion that at 7:15 a.m. a kilometer-long queue of expatriate workers had gathered outside the registration office located behind a tiny iron door in the wall of the Saudi Oger compound in north Jeddah yesterday.

“I got the story that while I had to register, there was no need for my wife to register as she is on my iqama,” said American Gene Fulton, a naval engineer. “The official then told me that my wife could register at the airport, which rather contradicted his own information.”

The information given to other expatriates varied considerably. It included: Wives had to register separately; they had to register in the same place; they had no need to register at all; children as young as nine had to register; children under 14 were excluded; failure to register would result in the nonrenewal of iqama, or the refusal by the Passport Department to issue exit/re-entry visas; registration could be done at the airport on re-entry; registration could not be done on re-entry.

“I spent a total of nine hours on three visits and still am not registered,” said Mike B.

His attempt was at the offices located near Dallah Tower on Jeddah’s Palestine Street. He eventually succeeded when a government relations specialist bullied his way to the head of the queue and used some “wasta” (influence) on the officials. That solution seemed relatively common. Several respondents said that they asked favors from people they knew in order to speed up the process.

Confusion is compounded by a lack of communication on the authorities’ part and the failure of many companies to pass on the information — albeit confused — to their work force.

A British project manager, John T., said that he had found out by accident during a coffee break. “I registered with my wife as a result six months ago, but as yet we have not been told officially by the firm,” he said. At that time, the registration offices were empty and officials were prepared but visitors were few.

According to at least one large school’s experience in Jeddah, it is possible to make a booking for a group visit and registration of expatriate staff in one visit. It seems, however, that few organizations have availed themselves of the opportunity.

Thus the confusion continues, the queues stifling in the humid summer heat grow agitated and millions of man-hours will be lost in unproductive waiting for registration or refusal or conflicting information, turning what should be a perfectly routine piece of bureaucracy into a nightmare and possibly a crisis as well

Why they cannot learn to be more organized , I do not understand.I wonder what would happen to those of us that aren't in the kingdom. Iqama won't be renewed?


  1. Salaam sister...
    ya!! that really lacks organization!!
    and well, wats iqama??? sorry for being so ignorant.. but i really dont know....

    and hey r u writing from Sri Lanka?????
    i am from India... that makes us neighbours :)

    and im very sorry (again) if u rnt frm Sri Lanka.

  2. w'salam sis, an iqama is a residence permit that you must have to live/work in saudi .

    and yes we are neighbours! :)

  3. Assalaamu Alaykum,

    It's terrible, but we've taken a somewhat Saudi approach to this and just not done it yet! I suppose we'll just put it off until we REALLY need it and then run around like headless chickens a few hours before a flight out of the kingdom, panic, panic and hope it all works out! Well, no, it's not all our fault. Hubby's company was supposed to go in as a group and get it done but then they realised that all of their passports are held at their HQ in Riyadh! Somehow things are never straightforward here! :)