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September 1998, Volume 5, Number 9

Middle East

Gulf. The governments of the Gulf oil-exporting countries have announced crackdowns on illegal foreigners, and new policies to substitute natives for foreigners in work forces in which foreigners are 70 to 90 percent. For example, there are six million foreigners among Saudi Arabia's 18 million residents, and foreigners are 98 percent of manufacturing workers, 97 percent of construction workers and 93 percent of service sector workers.

In the summer of 1998, the Saudi government announced that 752,000 illegal foreigners had left the country after a four-month amnesty expired in October 1997, and that 485,000 had legalized their status during the amnesty. New measures were implemented that would restrict the employment of foreigners in government ministries and in state-owned companies.

An amnesty in Qatar ended August 20, 1998, and the Interior Ministry announced that raids would begin August 21, 1998 to find illegal workers, who can be fined 4,500 riyals ($1,236). Qatar reported that about 15,000 of the estimated 25,000 illegals in the country had legalized their status, and 3,000 had left Qatar.

Lebanon. On August 3, the Lebanese labor minister announced that all foreign workers must present insurance policies when they seek to obtain work permits or renew expired ones. The policy must cover health care and accident compensation, deportation fees and the return of the corpse in the event of the worker's death in Lebanon.


"Saudi Arabia repatriates 750,000 foreigners--paper," Reuters, August 5, 1998. "Foreign workers ordered to get insurance cover," Daily Star, August 4, 1998.