Monday, June 19, 2017

Law protects Indian expats in Saudi but people do get laid off

Law protects Indian expats in Saudi but people do get laid off: Saud Al Sati

Jun 18, 2017, 01.00 AM IST

Saudi Arabia is in the news mostly for the wrong reasons. An ongoing crisis with Qatar, a battle for regional power with Iran, a war in Yemen, Daesh and al-Qaida at its doorstep, Pakistan's close ally, daily reports of guest worker abuse ... Yet, as India's top oil supplier and a security partner, it counts for a lot. As Delhi prepares to host King Salman in the coming months, Saudi ambassador Saud Al Sati clears the fog in a chat with Indrani Bagchi

What is the likely outcome in the Saudi Arabia-Qatar crisis?

Saudi Arabia decided to sever diplomatic ties with Qatar to protect its security. Qatar over the years has been supporting extremist groups like Hezbollah, Muslim Brotherhood and Houthi militias, which have been behind attacks in the region. Qatar has also been duplicitous — on one hand, they pretend to make assurances of combating terrorism, whilst simultaneously support and fund an array of terrorist groups, as well as interfere in Saudi Arabia's internal affairs.

Kuwait is engaged in a mediation effort. We hope Qatar can end support to terrorist groups and remove terror leaders like the head of Muslim Brotherhood from their country. Qatar attended the anti-terror summit in Riyadh, but afterwards took positions contrary to the summit declaration, for instance, that Iran is a sponsor of terrorism, which they later disagreed with.

How are you combating Islamist extremism?

We have formed multiple alliances and coalitions to eradicate this menace. In 2005 we launched a national public awareness campaign against extremism, which is ongoing. We have implemented one of the world's most strict financial control systems to combat terror financing. Donations in mosques and public places are prohibited without public approval.

Why do Saudi charities fund madrassas and mosques in India to spread Wahabi Islam?

This is not true. I have not seen any official reports that say this. Saudi charities are prohibited from transferring money outside the country. There are strict financial controls, and action has been taken against violators, including incarceration. We are cooperating with India to check illegal transfer of funds and money laundering.

Why are you targeting Iran? Is the war against terror a cloak to fight Iran?

Iran is the leading state sponsor of terrorism. It has been reiterated by our foreign minister, Adel al Jubeir. If Iran were to contribute to our collective war on terrorism, it should get rid of all al-Qaida terrorists who get safe haven inside Iran, stop funding groups like Hezbollah, and Houthi militants in Yemen.
Why are there continuous reports of Indians being treated badly in Saudi Arabia, getting thrown out of jobs, etc?
We have not seen any significant change in numbers of Indian nationals working in the kingdom in 2015-16. There are now 3.04 million Indians working there and over 400 Indian companies. However, companies restructure during difficulties and people do get laid off. But we are trying to ensure guest workers have an accessible redressal system to protect them.

We see a number of false news reports in the Indian media. I urge that journalists/family members should contact us for accurate information. Saudi law provides full protection to all expatriates, which includes a unified labour contract and provisions that prohibit employing persons in jobs different from the profession stated in the contract. Rules prevent workers from being made to work longer than five hours at a stretch. Whenever Saudi authorities are provided with valid information, detailed investigations ensue, and violators face action. This is why Saudi Arabia remains a popular destination for job seekers.

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