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17,000 Egyptian Workers Trapped in Saudi Arabia

As many construction project come to a halt due to increasing bankruptcy in the KSA, thousands of Egyptians are out of a job and stranded awaiting payment.

Thousands of Egyptian workers are stranded in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, after several construction projects employing Egyptian labour have stalled due to soaring number of contractors declaring bankruptcy, leaving many in search of wages owed and a permit to leave.  

With nowhere to turn many are looking towards the Egyptian embassy to seek retribution from the Saudi Ministry. The legal advisor of the Egyptian Embassy in Riyadh, Khaled Hawari, has asked the Ministry of Labour to intervene and help approximately 17,000 Egyptian workers who have not been paid their entitlements, reports the Makkah Newspaper

Many of the workers have obtained court verdicts ruling in their favour, instructing that the contractor pay their entitlements. However, many are still waiting two years after the bankruptcy. Makkah Newspaper interviewed thousands of Egyptian employees who share the same story. In the case of 70-year-old Ibrahim Ali Muhammed, a security guard hired to watch the stalled school project in Batha Quraish district in Makkah, he received a verdict from the Labour Committee in 2012 which entitles him to SR23,200. Two years later he is still waiting and despite, the fact that most of the company’s employees left their jobs, Muhammad continues to show up to work, hoping each day will be the day he finally gets paid and can return home to Egypt. "I have continued to work because I was entrusted with a responsibility to guard this school. As soon as I get a clearance from the project and my financial entitlements, I will go back to Egypt. My residency permit has expired and the company's management has not bothered to renew it," he explains.

Even those in higher positions have found themselves stuck. In the case of Hamdi Hassan, a former company official, he is owed up to a SR100,000 and has requested to be allowed to transfer his sponsorship to another company as well as renew his residency that expired 18 months ago. "Me and thousands of other employees of the company face an unknown future. Our living conditions have worsened and we cannot move freely as our iqamas have expired. We have no source of income and the only help we receive are from people who sympathize with us," Hassan tells Makkah. One of the problems complicating the case is that the contract has been sold to another company who were not informed that there were financial dues to be paid at the time of deal. Equally troubling is that the embassy doesn’t have the resources to help for Egyptians caught in this nightmare as they can only issue return tickets and passports to employed workers.