Saudi job market shrinks, workers coming back empty handed

Saddif Ovee
Published : 11:30, Oct 12, 2018 | Updated : 11:30, Oct 12, 2018

On Sept 10 last, 107 persons came back from Saudi ArabiaOn Sept 10 last, 107 persons came back from Saudi Arabia. One returnee, Amir Hossain, said, “Even after staying overseas for ten years, I had to come back after spending the last days in jail.”
Every year, the largest number of people goes to Saudi Arabia to change their fortunes but the number of workers returning from the desert kingdom has triggered alarm.
Foreign workers residing in Saudi Arabia face predicament since the Saudi government’s recent decision to create employment for Saudi citizens.
With 12 sectors earmarked exclusively for locals, 7 lakh 200 foreign workers left Saudi Arabia in the last 15 months.
In 2017 alone, 4 lakh 66 thousand workers left the desert kingdom while in the last three months, 2 lakh 34 thousand 200 workers left Saudi Arabia.
Most of the returning labourers claim that, currently, there’s no work in Saudi Arabia.
I spent Tk 9 lakh to go and managed to recoup around Tk 8 lakh, said Tara Mia, a returnee.
“The police are arresting people from mosques; after arresting, a case is lodged with 20,000 Riyal fine,” he said and added, “Sometimes, the right to remain in the country, which is called an Aqama, is not taken into consideration.”
When such a large fine is slapped, the employer is unwilling to take any responsibility, many returnees lamented.
Returnees have also languished in jail before being sent back to Bangladesh.
Bangladesh exports manpower to more than 158 countries and according to Bureau of Manpower Export and Training, BMET, around one crore 20 lakh people are employed abroad with a remittance of Tk 13 lakh crore. The highest remittance came in 2015, which is Tk 1 lakh 15 thousand crore with more than 10 lakh people getting overseas work in 2017–the highest in a year.