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HVK Archives: 'Unofficial' policy bars Hindus from jobs in Saudi

'Unofficial' policy bars Hindus from jobs in Saudi - The Free Press Journal

Jitendra Satpute ()
16 February 1997

Title : 'Unofficial' policy bars Hindus from jobs in Saudi
Author : Jitendra Satpute
Publication : The Free Press Journal
Date : February 16, 1997

The Saudi Arabian government has for some time now been
implementing a policy to deny employment opportunities to Indian

While no written directions have been given to the concerned
ministries, it is reliably learnt that the Saudi Embassy officials
in India have been verbally instructed to strictly follow this
policy. Advertisements which appear in the national dailies in
India clearly state that "Muslims will be preferred."

This has created a problem for the recruiting agents in Saudi
Arabia as well as in India, since they are falling short of
educated and skilled labour because of the ban on recruitment of

In fact, an urgent meeting was called by the Saudi Arabian
industrialists on this issue with their government to discuss this
issue. But no information could be gathered from the Saudi Arabian
Consulate in Mumbai as it is closed till Feb 16.

There is big money involved in the recruiting business. With
recruitment having drastically fallen thanks to this policy,
recruiting agents have now begun advising Hindus to change their
names so as to get jobs in Saudi Arabia.

Almost 99 per cent of expatriates from India to the Saudi kingdom
in recent times are Muslims, the rest being Christians.

This 'unofficial' ban on Hindus came into force after the Babri
Masjid demolition in 1992 and gained momentum some six to eight
months back, it is learnt. In fact, immediately, after the Babri
Masjid incident the military hospital in Riyadh summarily sacked a
large number of Hindu employees.

Further, the issue of work permits called 'Iqama,' which allow an
expatriate to change his job in Saudi Arabia, has come to a virtual
halt for the minuscule population of Hindu employees. All
employees have to surrender his passport to the employer in the
Saudi kingdom to get the Iqama, which itself is illegal according
to international law.

The informal category of 'Free Visa Holders,' which was an illegal
verbal agreement between the employee and the employer or the
recruiting agent to allow the employee to change his job on
reaching Saudi Arabia at frequent intervals without having to
change his Iqama, has ceased. Because if a person is caught he is
fined heavily and also harsh physical punishment is also awarded.

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