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Expats worried sick as amnesty ends.

JEDDAH: HABIB SHAIKHSmall, medium and large-sized businesses have been gravely affected by the shortage of labor following the end of the amnesty period.

Hundreds of thousands of illegal expatriates have left the Kingdom and many are in hiding following the end of the concession period on Sunday.

"The shortage of labor has been felt ever since the declaration of restrictions on employing expatriate workers . Many illegal expats have left the country, while others have found new sponsors, which has affected production," said Mohammed Tahqique, a factory manager at Al-Shamrani Co. in Jeddah's industrial estate. "Our clients fail to understand why delivery times have become longer," he added.

Meanwhile, a restaurant in a busy market area in Jeddah are operating with fewer waiters.

With the shortage of waiters, customers are not being served on time and service has deteriorated. The owner, who used to visit often, is avoiding coming to the shop all together.

"Business has been affected at least by 20 to 30 percent because of the shortage of workers, as well as longer waiting times," said two people in the restaurant on condition of anonymity.

The caretaker of a building in the Faisaliyah district told Arab News that he is so scared that he has not been able to eat, drink or sleep for the last few weeks even though his application for an iqama is pending.

He said he was told to report to the Passport Department office on Sunday but that the person in charge was not present. "I am scared because I would have to leave before Nov. 4 if I don't get an iqama. I have already paid SR4,000 and submitted my paperwork," he sobbed.

The man arrived in the Kingdom nearly 10 years ago to work on a farm in a small village, but the work was difficult and the sponsor did not pay for months on end. So he ran away and came to Jeddah.

Besides working as a guard at a building, which does not pay much, he washed on average 25 cars a day. "I send the money home for household expenses and school fees for my children and only keep a small amount to survive on," he said.

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Publication:Arab News (Jeddah, Saudi Arabia)
Geographic Code:7SAUD
Date:Nov 4, 2013
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