KARACHI: Saudi Arabian companies are offering free work visa to attract Pakistani workers, reflecting a slump in the kingdom’s economy.
Meanwhile, local recruiting agents say Pakistanis — mostly labour class — are still going for Saudi jobs despite the fact that thousands of workers — mostly labourers working in the Saudi construction industry — from Pakistan, India, Bangladesh and Nepal are stuck in the kingdom and have not received their salaries for months, reports the Dawn.
Work visas for KSA were once hot cakes and extremely costly; sometime the visa buyer had to pay his entire salaries of 6 to 12 months to meet the cost.
To enter and work in KSA legally, a worker needs a Kafeel (sponsor). Permission from the Kafeel is needed to leave the country, buying a car/house, and even opening a bank account.
“Fifty per cent Kafeels (Saudi individuals or companies offering sponsorship to workers) are not charging fees these days,” says Mr Mazhar, who runs a recruiting firm in Karachi.
He said local agents of Kafeels are minting money in the name of ‘Kafeel fee’.
However, sources — within the recruitment business and having links to Saudi companies — say the economic situation is not good for workers.
When questioned why Pakistanis are still going to the Kingdom, sources said those having government jobs have no problems.
“It’s only the private sector employees — mostly related to the construction industry — who are facing problems but highly educated and skilled people have faced no such issue in Saudi Arabia,” they added.
“The major reason behind Pakistanis seeking work in Saudi Arabia is that there are no jobs in Pakistan for them.
In a telephonic conversation with Dawn, A highly skilled engineer working in Saudi Arabia said he was not getting his salary for the past nine months.
A doctor working in the kingdom said most of the skilled foreign staff working in hospitals has been replaced with locals.
“Foreign physicians and surgeons are slowly being replaced too,” the doctor added.
So far, foreign doctors employed in government hospitals are getting regular salaries.
Recently, the State Bank of Pakistan said a 16pc increase was noted in the number of Pakistanis proceeding abroad in 2016. Out of these, 47pc went to Saudi Arabia. However, the SBP did not specify in which sectors Pakistanis are getting jobs in the kingdom.