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Eye of Riyadh
Government | Friday 13 March, 2015 3:41 am |
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Restaurants, groceries close shop in anticipation of raids

Several restaurants, grocery stores and other shops have closed their doors since the government launched its latest crackdown on illegal workers, Arab News has found.
The campaign is aimed at arresting workers working without permits or in jobs not stated on their residence permits. Many small shops are staffed by workers who have not transferred their sponsorship to the owners of these establishments.
The inspection campaign has reduced the number of illegal expatriates but this has created a shortage of workers at small stores, which also have problems getting visas for other workers. Few Saudis are interested in working at these stores.

Abdullah Sultan, a customer, told Arab News on Sunday that stores always close once an inspection campaign is underway. This has affected him because the laundry shop he uses is no longer open.
Many Saudis and expatriates are also struggling to find electricians to fix problems in their homes, because most expatriate electricians and technicians have gone to their home countries. There is also a shortage of car mechanics and auto-electricians.
Meanwhile, some car repair shops and restaurants have raised their prices because they claim that they now have to hire legal workers who want more money and benefits.
Abdul Aziz Al-Asaad, a Syrian resident who manages a restaurant in Al-Sharafiah district in Jeddah, told Arab News that he was forced to increase his prices because expatriate workers want higher salaries and medical insurance.

“In November 2013, I closed my restaurant to avoid the raids because I had three illegal workers. I have now hired legal expat staff to avoid penalties,” he said.
Ahmed Marzouq, a former member of the restaurant committee at the Jeddah Chamber of Commerce and Industry, told Arab News that small businesses need Saudis.
“Small businesses in the Kingdom will not develop unless Saudis start working in this sector. There are too few Saudis willing to take up jobs at stores, restaurants and workshops. This sector would depend on expatriates for many years to come, he said.
“The frequent closure of these restaurants and shops creates problems for many customers who cannot buy basic items.” He said something must be done to ensure Saudis are employed in the sector, because this would help protect small operators.
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