Kuwait announced that they will abolish sponsorship system in their country. This is indeed a good news for expatriates in Kuwait. Whose next in Gulf countries?
Saudi Arabia? Well, I don’t think so. If they are sincere enough to abolish sponsorship system, it should have been done ten years ago.
Actually, the plan to abolish sponsorship in Saudi Arabia have been the talk of the town since year 2000 and up to now the Saudi government is still drafting its Implementing Guidelines, given the fact that the effect of the abolition of the sponsorship system could also harm its own people.
Yes, putting an end to sponsorship system can eliminate exploitation of foreign workers. Once it is abolish, employer would not be responsible for any actions of the employee outside from the worksite. That includes the freedom from restrictions. Runaway workers will then have the choice to stay in the Kingdom or find another employer but the planned system should be implemented in a way that it could not be abused by the worker. On the other hand, the said plan can minimize or totally eradicate a visa trade which is rampant in the Kingdom nowadays.
However, I have a doubt that the Saudi government is serious in this issue. Last month online news cited Prince Naif Bin Abdul Aziz, Second Deputy Premier and Minister of Interior the pronouncement that the “proposed unified recruitment companies will provide workers within 24 hours to people who need them, provided that applicants do not seek people with uncommon specializations or rare skills.” It even reported that “applicants or employer can employ the workers for two years”. Thus the creation of a government commission or a department handling recruitment jobs. In my point of view, they will not abolish sponsorship system but they will encourage employers to hire workers through a unified recruitment firms in the Kingdom. In this manner, it will gradually eliminate sponsorship in the long run and then control expatriates in the Kingdom in the hands of a government recruitment firm. Why not?
The plan to abolish sponsorship has been in the air for a decade and why up to now the implementing guidelines still in the making? Does this make sense?
Let us wait and see.