by Arab News
Saudi Arabia has hosted around 2.5 million Syrians since the beginning of the crisis in that country in 2011, the Foreign Ministry has said.
In a statement issued to SPA, the ministry said the Syrians have been leading a decent and normal life in the Kingdom like other expatriates. “The Kingdom does not deal with Syrian expats like refugees. They are living in a normal environment not in special camps.”
According to the ministry, the Syrians have been granted legal residence permits and full freedom to travel inside the country.
“Moreover, they are allowed to study in Saudi schools as per the royal order issued in 2012.
A total of 100,000 Syrians are registered in public schools,” the ministry clarified, reacting to reports about the Kingdom’s role in tackling the Syrian refugees crisis. “All Syrians in the Kingdom receive free medical treatment. They are allowed to work in the private sector like other expatriates,” the ministry added.
Saudi Arabia has spent $700 million to help Syrian refugees, according to figures made available during the Third Intentional Conference of Donors in Kuwait in March this year, the ministry said.
The Kingdom played a vital role in helping Syrian refugees in Jordan and Lebanon through humanitarian aid including food, medical treatment, medicines and clothes,” the ministry added.
An online publication quoted a source as saying that the Labor Ministry has excluded Syrians from labor inspections being carried out to correct expat status. “This will be a great help to my fellow Syrian visitors,” said a Riyadh-based Syrian expat. “We have lived here for many years and benefited not only financially from this country but also from free education for our children,” he observed.
The visitors residing with their families here feel that the gesture would help them put their skills to good use and benefit from their stay, he said, adding that it will be a win-win situation for them and the host country.
The directive by King Salman aims at letting the departments that face skills’ shortage to benefit from Syrian visitors, many of whom are experienced and highly qualified to make a qualitative change to the local market.
Western countries have realized the advantage of absorbing refugees with a wealth of talent and skills, which is a cost effective solution for them amid the global economic slump.
Similarly, these Arab refugees could be a blessing in disguise for the Kingdom in the face of declining oil prices. Their professional skills, along with knowledge of Arabic, will give them an edge over non-Arabic speaking expats.
This year, the king also ordered rectification of the residential status of Yemeni illegals to let them work in various sectors.