Go Home, but Who Will Replace You?

Economist, November 16, 2013

Millions of pious pilgrims flock to Mecca every year, but the Muslim holy city’s newest, biggest hotel serves a different clientele. Just months after opening, the Shumeisi Deportation Centre already holds more than 20,000 Egyptians, Ethiopians, Indonesians, Yemenis and citizens of other nationalities, nearly half of them women. They will not be there for long. Nearly all will soon be packed off home, joining an exodus that has seen perhaps one in ten of Saudi Arabia’s estimated 9m foreign workers leave the kingdom in little more than a year.

The number awaiting deportation has swollen dramatically. An amnesty meant to allow migrant workers to conform to new, stricter employment rules expired on November 4th. Since then, Saudi police have mounted sweeps of worksites and the districts where foreigners live. Thousands have turned themselves in voluntarily, some camped out in public, luggage in hand, awaiting arrest and a free flight home. But others prefer to resist: on November 10th two people died when a police raid targeting Ethiopian residents of a slum in Riyadh, the Saudi capital, sparked a minor riot.

The campaign has caused other disruptions. Some 6,000 street-cleaners in Mecca, mostly from Bangladesh, mounted a five-day strike to protest against harassment by immigration authorities as well as non-payment of wages and poor working conditions. With much of the kingdom’s pool of manual and semi-skilled labour afraid to show up for work, such vital services as water delivery, the pumping out of septic tanks and the washing of bodies for burial have all but halted. Wholesale markets and city souks are operating at a fraction of normal turnover. A Saudi daily newspaper, al-Medina, says that more than half of 200,000 firms registered as building contractors have temporarily closed.

{snip} The campaign aims both to regulate the flow of immigration to the oil-rich kingdom and to open opportunities for Saudi workers. It comes as part of a long-term drive towards “Saudisation” of the distorted labour market that has included enforced quotas, a ban on foreigners in some professions, and a crackdown on firms that supply imported labour, which accounts for two-thirds of the overall workforce, and a far higher proportion in the private sector.

All this is meant to lower the kingdom’s unemployment rate, officially 13% but believed to be twice as high among the young. Although trimming the foreign workforce will theoretically free up jobs for locals, few Saudis seem likely to seek them, least of all those of the menial kind, which the kingdom’s 19m citizens tend to shun. Still, some economists expect longer-term benefits, as an overall rise in labour costs makes Saudis more attracted to lower-prestige and starting-level jobs, where wages have long been kept down by the abundance of foreign labour.


Topics: ,

Share This

We welcome comments that add information or perspective, and we encourage polite debate. If you log in with a social media account, your comment should appear immediately. If you prefer to remain anonymous, you may comment as a guest, using a name and an e-mail address of convenience. Your comment will be moderated.
  • Puggg

    Somehow, Saudi Arabia can deport 9 million people, but we’re told we can’t deport 11 million people. What’s the matter, doesn’t Saudi Arabia have a Rand Paul saying that the country should find a place for the 9 million and give out lots and lots and lots of work visas?

    • IstvanIN

      The Saudi Royal family has long-term interests in “Saudisation”, in that they wish to maintain their position in the Kingdom by protecting the interests of their subjects. This is in stark contrast to politicians who only care for today and do not care if their son inherits the family business. In an American sense the Saudis are similar to the Fords, the only family-controlled US auto company and the only one that did not fail. There is much to be said for hereditary authority and responsibility.

    • David Ashton

      I know, why not deport them to the USA and UK?

    • mobilebay

      Or Gov. Christie (to Dreamers) “It’s our job to find a place for you.” Say What?

  • Max Krakah

    Somehow they don’t adhere to the belief that it is impossible to deport them all.

  • Max Krakah

    ” Saudi Worker” …now THAT is an oxymoron if I’ve ever heard one!

    • Zaporizhian Sich

      Indeed, many better off or well off Saudis regard work of any kind, even housework as beneath them.

      • Franklin_Ryckaert

        Well, that is pure snobbism. Two generations ago most of these people were poor bedouins.

        • Zaporizhian Sich

          Exactly. People who have been to the Middle East have seen how the Saudis, the ones with money anyway literally are almost like our favorite foes in that they regard any sort of work for others, not themselves. Indeed, they are very snobbish.

        • Max Krakah

          Bedouins – you mean a people that do not work but periodically raid agricultural settlements and towns?

  • Marc Zuckurburg

    Send them here. We could use a lot of Saudi workers.

    Saudi worker:

  • Hunter Morrow

    Saudis should work. Immigrants are not needed. Growth is not needed. Stagnant populations ae good things.

    • Max Krakah

      Serve to conquer. Is that it?

      • Hunter Morrow

        Well, why bring them into the country anyhow?
        Saudi Arabia is for Saudis. Work visas are vile.

  • bigone4u

    My tears are tears of joy for the Saudis, mixed with tears of disgust for us Americans. We don’t need “comprehensive immigration reform” in the US, but comprehensive political reform, as in throwing 90 percent of the bums out of office next election.

  • Homo_Occidentalis

    Still, some economists expect longer-term benefits, as an overall rise
    in labour costs makes Saudis more attracted to lower-prestige and
    starting-level jobs, where wages have long been kept down by the
    abundance of foreign labour.

    Would these be the same non-Eskimo economists who keep kicking and screaming for unlimited non-white immigration to ALL (and only) white nations? The Saudis have not yet achieved maximum enrichment. The invasion must continue until the Saudis are >0.1% of their nation’s population.

  • Spartacus

    Anyone else wishing their government was less democratic, and more like this ?

    • White Light

      Their government would collapse in a day without the oil revenues.

      • Spartacus

        And they would still be in a better position than any White country when that happened…

    • willbest

      Unless it comes from a military coup where the General/Admiral who doesn’t really want power but has had enough of snotty treason suits telling him to train up women and send his guys out to kill some brown people that aren’t bothering us so corporate donors can make a buck I doubt I would like the direction the country would be heading.

  • borogirl54

    I noticed one thing. They did not deport any Filipinos who make a good portion of the workforce there.

  • Max Krakah

    I think I spooked the Saudis. I have been posting all over the web about how SA could be taken out by taking out their desalination plants and deep aquifer wells, and I have been pointing out that 1 in 5 people in SA are badly treated foreign workers that will rise against the Saudis when they know that the Saudis will make them die of dehydration first.

  • IstvanIN

    I agree. I believe most societies would be better of with a hereditary monarch who had real constitutional powers, in Europe a Christian monarch, in other countries in accordance with their own traditions. Universal suffrage, which is what most people really mean when they say “democracy”, has proven to be rule by the least competent to decide anything.

  • ssviking

    If the saudis can deport their immigrant scum back to their home countries why couldn’t the Israelis do the same? Why send them to European countries anyone think this wasn’t intentionally done to genocide whites?

    • Zaporizhian Sich

      Because the rulers of Israel never pass up an opportunity to harm, threaten, dispossess, displace, oppress and kill whites. That is why they send them to European countries, that is why I regard Israel as an enemy nation and anyone with dual American-Israeli citizenship as enemy aliens too. The fact they do this is the best argument imaginable for banning dual-citizenship without exception.

  • Zaporizhian Sich

    Godless market economics are indeed a major factor behind the threats to our very existence. A very important point that was not lost on the Founding Fathers.

  • Massif1

    Saudi Arabia wishes it can go back when enslaving Africans was normal. Keep them in chains since they don’t know how to act.

  • Kit Ingoldby

    ”Immigration will not be so easy in future; wages are likely to rise.”

    And there you have it. The problem the Economist is really worried about is that wages will RISE if immigration is curbed.

    And higher wages combined with lower unemployment would be a terrible thing of course……

  • GeneticsareDestiny

    This is wonderful news for the Saudis! I’m glad the open-borders madness hasn’t spread everywhere. Wages for Saudis will rise, unemployment will fall, and menial work will regain the respect it deserves since those jobs will no longer be able to pay dirt poor immigrant wages.

    The Saudis will probably also lose at least a little of their disdain for work, since they will no longer be able to shove it off on immigrants, which can only be a positive thing for them. The oil money can’t last forever and a good work ethic will serve them long after it dries up.

  • Strider73

    Interesting scenario, but unfortunately it will not happen until after the Yankee Empire falls apart. Way back in 1973 the US agreed to prop up the Saudi regime, in exchange for that regime accepting only US dollars for their oil and coercing the rest of OPEC to follow suit. Now Israel is in on the act because the Sunni Saudi royals are the blood enemies of Shiite Iran. At the same time, the Saudis make sure the Sunni minority in Bahrain (where the US has a major naval base) continues to oppress the Shiite majority. Bottom line: if a popular uprising ever threatened to overthrow the House of Saud, the US and Israeli military forces, working with the CIA and Mossad, would do whatever it took to smash it.

    I have said it many times, but it needs to be repeated here: the Mideast is Exhibit A for the Founders’ warnings against entangling alliances.

  • Truth Teller

    The Arab spring people are even more women hating and want to spread extremism everywhere. I don’t think the billionaires should have to share their money to the “angry underclass”.