Many Indian workers in Saudi Arabia have returned home, their future hanging in balance

They left their kith and kin, their friends and well-wishers and crossed the seas to provide a decent life to their families. While some borrowed money, others spent their savings and some mortgaged jewellery to buy themselves the Visit ‘Azad’ Visa – their ticket to a prosperous life.

Unfortunately, things are back to square one for these men. Thanks to Saudi Arabia’s ‘Nitaqat’ rules, many have been forced to return home. Anxiety and confusion are what face these expatriates now.

Syed Awais (30) spent considerable time working as a computer hardware professional for more than three employers in the last three years. He returned home recently.

“Though what I earned was paltry, it was good if compared to what I got in India. I managed to send some money every month. Now I am confused as the same job here will not fetch enough money,” says the father of two children.

Many others share Awais’ plight.

“We opted for the Visit or ‘Azad’ visits only because small companies preferred people who had such visas. I struggled for about 12 years and managed to build a house. But now I plan to sell it and do some business here,” says Syed Rafeeq, (42) who worked as an electrician.

Companies cash in

Mirza Faiz Baig, 27, went on an Azad visa and earned a salary of 5,000 Saudi Riyal but came back after the company wanted to sponsor him, but pay him only 2,800 Riyal.

“Companies are now cashing in on the situation and recruiting people at half the previous salaries. I can earn that much in India,” he remarks.

The wait-and-watch game

A few who could save some money are now waiting in the hope of the Saudi government introducing some new policy to meet the workforce requirement.

“Industries in that country cannot survive without expatriates. I will wait for sometime and see if I can get a job in Saudi Arabia,” says Abu Baaker, who returned after working in the country for seven years. Some returnees from Saudi Arabia are eyeing other countries in West Asia for job opportunities.

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