10 June: Several people were injured when irate Indonesian expatriate workers set fire to a part of their Consulate in the Saudi Red Sea port city of Jeddah on Sunday, apparently frustrated over the delay in processing their applications to make their stay in the Kingdom legal, Arab media reported quoting officials.
Firefighters brought the blaze under control before spreading to the Consulate’s main building. Unconfirmed reports said one woman was killed in the incident, but police said some people were only injured.
The incident followed a stampede on Saturday when Indonesian women stormed the Consulate in which at least three women were seriously injured, while several fainted.
The Indonesian diplomatic missions in Saudi Arabia are among those swamped with undocumented nationals trying to meet the July 3 deadline set by the Saudi government for “illegals” to rectify their visa status. Confrontation between expatriates, police and Consulate officials stemmed from Indonesian workers’ frustration over long delays and alleged lack of organization at the Consulate, the report said.
Workers without proper documents for their continued stay in the country are becoming increasingly concerned as violators of the immigration rules will face penalties when the amnesty period ends on July 3, with punishment including imprisonment up to two years, and fines up to 100,000 riyals ($27,000).
According to official statistics, eight million expatriates work in the oil-rich Kingdom, and it is believed that there are another two million unregistered foreign workers.
Saudi Arabia is aiming to create job opportunities for its own unemployed by cutting the number of foreign workers, although many of those are in low-paid jobs that Saudis would not accept.