Saudi projects to be delayed by expat exodus

Construction projects in Saudi Arabia are set to be hit by delays due to labour shortages as tens of thousands of illegal workers leave the country under a government immigration amnesty, according to an industry expert.

Raed Al-Aqeeli, vice chairman of the Contractors Committee in the Jeddah Chamber of Commerce and Industry, said that as much as 80% of construction projects could be affected as a result of the measure.

With only 10% of the labourers who have committed violations able to correct their status, Al-Aqeeli believes that the lack of labour could cause a major setback to the sector and result in project completion delays.

“With only a few days remaining for the amnesty period to end, we still can’t see the government apparatus gearing up to accommodate and clear the large numbers of paperwork and transactions which are estimated at 450,000,” he told Arab News.

Al-Aqeeli added that projects would have to be put on hold since both employers and workers wish to avoid the potential for punishment if they carry out violations of the incoming law.

Earlier this year, Saudi Arabia warned immigrants that they could be jailed if they were found to be working illegally in the country. Expats have been given until July 3 to obtain a work visa or leave the country.

by CW Staff, Jun 18, 2013