Authorities in Saudi Arabia said that they have deported more than 70,000 foreign workers from the country since an amnesty ended on November 4.
According to figures disclosed by the General Directorate of Passport, 71,118 expatriates have been removed from the Gulf kingdom so far due to irregularities in their visa status.
The deportations are part of a crackdown on illegal workers in the world’s largest oil producer, where for decades authorities had turned a blind eye to the matter.
In a sudden announcement this summer, Saudi authorities gave a deadline for all resident foreign nationals to either get their paperwork in order or leave the country. Saudi Arabia’s punitive sponsorship system has historically been rife with abuse, with numerous reports of citizens setting up bogus companies in order to sell visas to foreign workers on the black market.
The campaign to reduce the kingdom’s reliance on overseas labour, which accounts for about one-third of the country’s population of 22m, is part of a broader strategy to provide more jobs for Saudi citizens.
The official unemployment rate among Saudi nationals is put at 12 percent, but is probably significantly higher.