Jeddah: Irfan Mohammed ARABNEWS
Authorities have drastically reduced the number of seasonal employment visas to bring in temporary workers from abroad into Makkah and Madinah.
Several businesses are feeling the pinch of this visa cutdown, leading to a collective loss of SR600 million. About 70,000 seasonal employment visas are issued every year in the holy cities to cater to the needs of Hajis.
Authorities tightened the rules for importing foreign labor following last year’s incident involving a cleaning company selling 2,200 seasonal visas to Bangladesh-based agents.
Saad Jameel Qureshi, chairman of the transport committee and director of the Makkah Chamber of Commerce and Industry, told Arab News on Tuesday that delays in issuing seasonal visas are deplorable. He said that food supplies to pilgrims will be affected, as there are not enough workers to oversee the production of around 26 million packets of food required daily during the Haj season.
The Ministry of Labor is insisting that companies recruit unemployed Saudis to fill seasonal job vacancies. Yet companies are finding it virtually impossible to hire Saudis willing to work for long hours in the transport, cleaning and cooking professions