Why the crackdown? They don’t want the cheap foreign laborers competing with Saudi citizens for jobs, and they are concerned about the amount of remittances ($$$) being sent out of S.A. (take note Gang of Eight!).
Longtime readers know that we have often mentioned the fact that Saudi Arabia takes no refugees and immediately deports any who sneak into the country.
In this case, the foreign workers may, at one time, have had visas to work in S.A., but now they are given the boot.
From Reuters via Yahoo.news (emphasis mine):
RIYADH (Reuters) – Saudi Arabian police clashed with foreign workers in a poor district of Riyadh on Saturday, nearly a week into a visa crackdown in which thousands have been detained and one man killed by police.
Security forces in riot gear fired into the air and used truncheons to disperse large crowds as scores of men ran through the streets, some throwing stones and other objects at cars and police, according to Reuters witnesses.
Two people were killed of which one was a Saudi while the other one was unidentified, the Saudi police said in a statement late on Saturday after it detained 561 people involved in the disturbances in the Manfuhah neighbourhood of southern Riyadh.
The police added that 68 people were injured.
Most of the foreign workers involved in the clashes appeared to be Africans.
In a previous statement, the police did not refer directly to Saturday’s clashes, or say how many had been injured or detained, but said that in light of “what has happened”, the authorities had designated a location for people to surrender voluntarily.
Authorities this year said they would no longer turn a blind eye to foreign workers breaking visa rules by working for companies that had not sponsored their entry into the world’s top oil exporter.
The intention is to end a black market for cheap imported workers, cut the foreign labour force, reduce the flow of remittances to other countries and make more private sector jobs available for Saudi citizens.
And, I bet there is some ethnic nationalism going on here too!
There is more, read it all.
Will the camel crackdown be next?
Meanwhile a Saudi camel has been found to carry the deadly MERS virus. Imagine the problems ahead if the virus can move back and forth between the camel population and the human one.
The Saudi government said Monday that a camel has tested positive for MERS, in the first case of an animal infected with the coronavirus that has killed 64 people worldwide.
A camel owned by a person diagnosed with the disease had “tested positive in preliminary laboratory checks,” the health ministry said in a statement carried by SPA state news agency.
The ministry said it was working with the ministry of agriculture and laboratories to “isolate the virus and compare its genetic structure with that of the patient’s”.
Yikes! There might be as many as a million camels in S.A. says this wildlife website.
We have written about the MERS virus here and how it might threaten the annual pilgrimage to Mecca.