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Saudi Arabia denies abolishing sponsorship system

Image of the Shura Council in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia [Bandar Algaloud / Saudi RoyalCouncil / Handout/Anadolu]
Image of the Shura Council in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia [Bandar Algaloud / Saudi RoyalCouncil / Handout/Anadolu]

Saudi Arabia’s ministry of labour and social development denied on Sunday rumours over its intent to abolish the sponsorship (Kafala) system for foreign workers, according to the ministry’s statement on its official Twitter account.

The statement came in response to the news spread on social media recently, claiming that the kingdom is set to cancel the expatriate workers’ sponsorship system.

Responding to a tweeter who was asking whether the news he had received in this regard was true, the ministry said that “no decision had been taken to this effect”.

The sponsorship system, applied by Gulf states, obliges all foreign workers to have an in-country sponsor. The sponsor is usually the worker’s employer, who looks after the expatriate’s employment visa and legal status.

According to the Saudi General Authority for Statistics, the kingdom’s population amounts to 31.7 million people, with 20 million Saudis and 11.7 million foreigners, who represent 37 per cent of the total population.

Last month, Qatar abolished its foreign workers’ sponsorship system replacing it with a new system based on employment contracts. The Qatari government said that the new law would “guarantees greater flexibility, freedom and protection to Qatar’s more than 2.1 million salaried workforce”, according to the Qatar News Agency (QNA).

Bahrain also plans to cancel the system in April.

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