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Kafala System in Saudi Arabia

If you’re an expat here in Saudi Arabia, you might have heard the term “Kafala.” Not everyone knows this important word so you might want to understand how significant it is during your stay here in the country. There are a lot of strange terms in this Islamic country and it is better to start learning about them so you won’t get confused when you hear everyone talks about it.

Also Read: Punishments for Violating the Labour Law in Saudi Arabia

Expats should understand how systems work in Saudi Arabia. If you’re planning to work or live here, understanding the systems is a strategy you can use to familiarize yourself with the environment and how the government operates. It is true that this country implements strict rules but a better way to get a good grasp of the laws and regulations is to embrace the change you’re about to face. For instance, there is such a system called Kafala in Saudi Arabia. In this article, you will learn more about it.

KSA Kafala System

What Is Kafala System?

  • Kalafa is an Arabic term that means “to guarantee” or “to take care of.” Therefore, the Kalafa system in Saudi Arabia is a framework that supports the responsibility to take care of foreign visitors here in the country. As such, it serves a social purpose to highlight the nature of expats, which is temporary. This means that even if you stay in the country for a long period of time, you won’t be able to acquire citizenship rights unless there is an exception.

Also Read: Understanding Your Saudi Labour Contract

What Does The Kafala System Imply?

The following are the significant points you have to consider under the Kafala System:

  • Foreign workers or expats are bound to what they call “kafeel” or employer or sponsor until the contract period expires. The expat cannot move into or out of the country without the permission of kafeel through a letter.
  • The expat cannot transfer from one employer to another without written notice from kafeel.
  • Kafeel takes advantage of the Kafala system so they can have excessive control over the expat through confiscating their passports and other legal documents. If you ever experience this in Saudi Arabia, you should not hesitate to report your sponsor to the authorities.
  • There are also cases when kafeel takes advantage of the system by underpaying foreign workers, not paying them at all, giving excessive jobs that are not scoped in the employment contract, and physical and mental abuse. Again, if you are experiencing any of this, don’t hesitate to ask for the authorities’ help or your embassy’s advice.
  • Some foreign workers are forced to run away from their employers and seek help. Remember that it is illegal to abscond in the Gulf region. If you don’t want to get detention and be deported, try to seek the legal help first.

The Kafala System in Saudi Arabia has bad and good results. This is good in the sense that it improves the social system of the country by not allowing foreigners to take over the right and privileges of the citizens and bad in the sense that employers are using the system to manipulate expats. Share this article to raise awareness!

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