Saudi Arabian police have arrested more than 41,000 expats working illegally in the city of Jeddah in just three months.
The crackdown on illegal working and immigration was aimed at ridding the streets of the city and surrounding towns of beggars and street vendors, but uncovered thousands of expats working in violation of their visa conditions.
More than 37,000 had changed jobs without informing the authorities.
Police have reported the details of each arrested expat to the immigration services and most are expected to face deportation.
Ban on deportees
Expats deported from Gulf Council states are now banned from entering other member nations.
The six countries – Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, Bahrain, Qatar, Oman and Kuwait – have set up a shared database identifying deportees as part of a multilateral security pact.
“The authorities in the deporting country will take photographs and fingerprints of deportees and put them on the database for the use of other security and border authorities,” said a spokesman for Dubai’s General Directorate of Residency and Foreign Affairs.
The primary aim of the move is to try to curb drug trafficking and smuggling.
Drug offenders face an automatic ban, while other deportees will have their cases considered on their merits.
Expats aged 15 and over must give their fingerprints to Saudi Arabian immigration authorities.
The new regulations include expat women, who must have biometric date recorded if they want an exit or re-entry visa to the country, change their job or update their passports.
The rule brings expat women in line with strict foreign travel controls already imposed on Saudi women.
The new rules come into effect from January 21, 2015.
Saudi Arabia is home to around 9 million expats out of a population of 27 million.
Expat minimum wage fix
Also in Saudi Arabia, the government may fix the minimum wage for expats and Saudi nationals working for private businesses in 2015.
The intention is to give Saudi nationals a minimum wage that is at least double that of an expat carrying out similar work in a bid to encourage Saudis to take up jobs in the private sector.
Saudis will be guaranteed a minimum salary of £900 a month, while the level for expats is likely to be £424.
Mansour Al-Shethry, chairman of the Saudi Labour Market Committee, explained the government was stepping in to control wages because pay for 1.6 million Saudis in the private sector were less than half those paid to expats and less than salaries paid to nationals in other Gulf State countries