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Saudi Arabia plans to abolish foreign worker sponsorship system

In a landmark move, Saudi Arabia is set to abolish the sponsorship system effective from the first half of the next year. More than one million expatriates are expected to benefit from the move, according to a report in Maaal online business daily.

The Saudi Ministry of Human Resources and Social Development will make an official announcement on this matter in the coming week. The aim of this historic initiative is to strengthen the contractual relationship between expatriate workers and their employers.

The sponsorship system, which has been in effect for some seven decades, will be replaced by a work contract that regulates the relationship between employers and foreign employees.

The abolition of the sponsorship system would give expatriate workers freedom to secure exit and re-entry visas, receive the final passport exit stamp without a sponsor, and gain employment without the approval from a sponsor.

With the abolition of the system, the foreign workers will also have freedom of movement according to what is stipulated in the work contract.

The abolition of the sponsorship system carries many advantages for the local labor market and supports the competitiveness of Saudi citizens against foreigners, and will halt the cases of runaway workers (huroob). This will also lead to attracting foreign manpower with extra competencies and specialties from various countries.