Image Credit: Saudi Press Agency

Recent news reports in Saudi Arabia have focused on legal issues involving expatriates, including individuals from various African nations.

Unfortunately, these reports have highlighted a range of activities such as drug possession and involvement in minor thefts. These incidents have sparked discussions about the challenges faced by expatriate communities in the country and the importance of addressing these issues thoughtfully and fairly.

Part of the issue arises from the arrival of pilgrims from economically disadvantaged countries who sometimes overstay their visas in hopes of finding better opportunities. In a challenging job market, a small number have unfortunately turned to unauthorised activities to support themselves.

The Saudi authorities have yet to effectively address the challenge posed by a significant number of overstayers. The brazen street presence that many of us encounter suggests a clear awareness among law enforcement officials. However, the threat of periodic mass deportations have proven insufficient to deter the ongoing influx of individuals crossing our borders illegally.

More by Tariq A. Al Maeena

Growth and development

One must not forget that Africa is a large continent, stretching from Morocco and Tunisia in the north to South Africa in the South, from Somalia in the east to Senegal in the west. And citizens of this continent have played a significant part in the growth and development of Saudi Arabia.

For each person arrested for a crime, there are hundreds, if not thousands, of law-abiding African citizens living in the Kingdom who diligently perform their daily duties and contribute significantly to our society. These individuals play a crucial role in various sectors, showcasing their skills and dedication.

Among them are diligent teachers from Sudan and astute bankers from Kenya. Technicians from Egypt, proficient managers and accountants from Somalia, doctors from Botswana, and engineers from Senegal all bring their expertise and hard work to the Kingdom.

Additionally, professionals from Nigeria, Chad, South Africa, and many other countries have made positive contributions, reflecting well on the African continent as a whole.

Several underlying issues

However, as is often the case in news reporting, the actions of a few deviants tend to capture the headlines. With increasing transparency in our news, reports of arrests have become more frequent, highlighting the need for a closer look at the underlying issues.

Important questions need to be addressed: how do unauthorised individuals enter the country, who facilitates their entry, and what allows them to engage in criminal activities? These are critical areas that require attention and action to ensure the safety and well-being of all residents.

In the meantime, to all those law-abiding Africans, we owe our thanks and gratitude, for they have achieved well.

Tariq A. Al Maeena is a Saudi sociopolitical commentator.