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Relief for expats as Saudi extends Nitaqat grace period

Relief for expats as Saudi extends Nitaqat grace period

Riyadh: In a big relief for Indian expatriates, particularly those from Kerala, who are on the edge of uncertainty following the Saudization programme called Nitaqat, Saudi Arabia's King Abdullah on Tuesday extended the Nitaqat deadline by four months.

A royal order cited by a Ministry of Interior statement and carried by the Saudi Press Agency said the original three-month grace period, which ends on July 4, will be extended to the end of the current Hijra year 1434, equivalent to Nov. 4, 2013, Arab News reported.

The royal order comes amid uncertainty, with only two days left of the grace period earlier issued by King Abdullah. There have been calls for extension of the programme considering a large number of applications that are yet to be sorted.

With this new deadline, the Ministries of Interior and Labor urged all undocumented expatriates who have yet to register to come forward and have their status corrected.

According to the new Nitaqat policy - or Saudisation programme - of the kingdom, 10 percent of jobs are to be reserved for locals. The policy is aimed at expanding employment opportunities for Saudi nationals.

Over two million Indians are currently working in Saudi Arabia. India had conveyed its concerns to Saudi Arabia over possible job loss to a large number of Indians in the Kingdom due to its new labour law.

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