More than half a million foreign workers were reported as runaways across the Kingdom last year, equivalent to 7 percent of the more than 7 million expat workers Kingdom-wide, according to statistics reported by regional labor offices.
Reports of runaway workers were most prevalent in major cities such as Riyadh, Jeddah and Dammam, which accounted for half of all runaway cases, a Ministry of Labor report said.
In Riyadh, 151,000 foreign workers went missing from work out of a total of 2 million workers.
Meanwhile, 40,213 cases of runaway workers were reported in Dammam out of the 558,000 foreign workers in the region.
The Labor Office in Jeddah reported 71,000 cases out of more than 1 million foreigners.
Bisha registered the second highest runaway rate, with an 11 percent average, or 5,312 cases out of 48,483 workers, compared with 10 percent in Ola, the report said.
Alkhobar also registered a 10 percent rate of absenteeism, while Abha recorded a 9 percent rate and Tabuk a more than 8 percent rate.
However, cities such as Jubail, Hail and Yanbu recorded a much lower 6 percent rate, while Makkah reported only 5.5 percent, according to the report.
Reports of runaway workers are increasing at an alarming rate despite numerous measures taken by Saudi authorities to curb the phenomenon.
Workers often end up running away as opposed to taking the legal route, which can be a cumbersome process, to solve their residency issues. Absconding workers in the Kingdom are known as “huroob.”
The Labor Ministry has introduced several measures to discourage employers from applying for new employment visas after their workers have run away.
Passport authorities are tightening procedures for deportation with a view to curbing the runaway culture, which is mainly prevalent among Asian expatriate workers in the Kingdom.
According to several Asian diplomatic sources, there was an increase in the number of runaway workers reported last year…. see more