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June 1999, Volume 6, Number 6

Middle East

Jordan's government is attempting to replace foreign with local workers, although many Jordanian businesses oppose the substitution and are requesting exemptions. In early 1999, the Jordanian government told foreign workers without work permits that they had to regularize their status by April 30. The deadline was never enforced according to one government official.

Saudi Arabia. Under a new regulation, foreign domestic workers will be given their exit and re-entry visas only after their Saudi sponsors have paid them their salaries and benefits; maids would have to sign an acknowledgment that they have been paid, so they cannot sue for unpaid wages and benefits in their countries of origin.

Gulf States. The Al-Hayat newspaper reports that the Gulf States have more than eight million foreign workers (non-Gulf residents). The unemployment rates of the Gulf States range from four to 20 percent, and is expected to grow as the local population increases. The current population rates range from 2.5 percent to 3.5 percent.

The National Bank of Kuwait, the Kuwait Red Crescent Society and several other private companies and individuals have provided humanitarian aid to Albanian refugees who are staying at Derous Port in Tehran.

"Ministry criticized for failure to fulfill foreign labor policy," Middle East News, May 18, 1999. "KRCS to send more aid to Kosovo refugees," Kuwait Times, 12 May 1999. Akbar Halaldheen, "Saudi gov't enforces new regulations to safeguard housemaids," Daily News, 12 May 1999. "Local unemployment-outlook," Middle East News, May 10, 1999.