Manama: Deportation rules will be strictly applied on all foreigners charged of committing crimes or breaking residency rules even if they come from conflict zone countries, the head of passports in Saudi Arabia has warned.
“There will be no exemption or exception for foreigners who come from conflict countries,” Sulaiman Al Yahya, the general director for passports, said. “The same rules and regulations will be applied to all foreigners. Saudi Arabia does take into consideration the difficult conditions in some countries afflicted by conflicts, but it also insists that full compliance with the Saudi laws is the only guarantee for foreigners to remain welcome in the kingdom.”
Nationals from conflict zone countries on the deportation list are given the choice between going home or heading to another country of their choice.
“They are given time to apply for a visa to the other country, and there were instances of foreigners who obtained the visas and left Saudi Arabia,” Al Yahya said.
The official said foreigners who arrive in Saudi Arabia on a visit visa need to be careful about their departure dates.
Those who overstay their visa validity will be fine up to 30,000 riyals (Dh29,357) he said.
Saudi Arabia and other Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) countries have been working on solutions that will address the plight of thousands of expatriates who do not wish to return home, but no longer meet the requirements to stay in the region, including the possession of a valid passport.
In September, reports in Kuwait said some Syrian expatriates who overstayed in the Gulf country would be granted long-term residency permits as a way out of legal wrangles.
“Regarding the Syrian nationals who have entered Kuwait through visit visas, but were not able to leave on time, we will grant them long-time visas within the confines of the law,” Abdullah Al Hajiri, the acting head of the General Directorate for Residency Affairs, was quoted as saying. “As for Syrian expatriates whose contracts have ended, but who have not been able to renew their residency permits because they could not renew their expired passports or because they could not present the required documents, we facilitate the administrative procedures for them and grant them special residencies.”
The visa extensions are based on the directives of the country’s leaders and on the appreciation of the general directorate, Al Hajiri said.
The Syrian community is believed to be the second largest among the Arabs with around 120,000 members.
Since the start of the armed conflict in Syria in 2011, several Kuwaiti activists have urged the authorities in Kuwait to exercise the highest levels of flexibility with Syrians, arguing the situation in their country required granting them special status.
Syria reopened its embassy in Kuwait in 2015, three years after shutting it down, alongside its diplomatic mission in the Saudi capital Riyadh.