Saudi Arabia and Bangladeshi Workers

Bangladesh is one of the largest suppliers of manual laborers to Saudi Arabia. Some 300 new workers used to come in every month and become everything from construction workers to tea boys.

Very well networked, they are considered resourceful and hard working. They are also infamous for having their own “mafia” that is heavily engaged in prostitution, drugs and alcohol.

Since last year, for no openly declared reason, Saudi Arabia stopped issuing visas and extending iqamas for Bangladeshi workers. Saudi Gazette quoted the Bangladeshi embassy last December:

“Starting April 2008, no domestic helpers including house maids, drivers and agriculture labor were being recruited to work in Saudi Arabia, although no official notification was given by Labor Ministry to the Embassy in this regard,”

In line with this development, Saudi Arabian airlines has reduced its weekly flights to Bangladesh from 12 to 8.

There is a range of speculation about the reasons:

  • Reduction in crime
  • As Saudization continues and some jobs that were traditionally done by foreign labor are being moved over to Saudi’s, the need for foreign workers has gone down
  • As political alliances change, Saudi Arabia might be readying itself for increasing workers from some other country