Saudi police arrested some 12,800 foreign nationals last week for staying illegally in the kingdom, a security official was quoted as saying Thursday, September 13. Brigadier Hassan Rashwan, head of Haj and Omrah (pilgrimage) at the Passports Department, told Al-Iqtisadia business daily a majority of those detained had entered Saudi Arabia to perform pilgrimage but never left.
The arrests came during a crackdown on illegal residents launched in various parts of the vast oil-rich kingdom, home to Islam's holiest shrines. Rashwan said those arrested, all of them Arabs and Asians, will be deported and people who provided them with shelter will be penalized.
There are around seven million foreign workers in Saudi Arabia and the government has launched a campaign to reduce their number by hiking fees on their recruitment and offering incentives for nationals to work in the private sector. ― (AFP, Riyadh)
© Agence France Presse 2001
© 2001 Mena Report (www.menareport.com )