Advancing the rights of migrant workers throughout the Middle East

Return to research Posted on May 6 2010

Below is a letter we received from the president of the Federation of Kerala Associations in Saudi Arabia (FOKASA). FOKASA is a social organization of Indians working in Saudi Arabia that regularly provides assistance to Indians deprived of their human rights. The letter brings to attention an issue rarely discussed: forcing workers into a runaway status, which deprives workers of any rights, to make a profit of punish the worker.

Here is the letter (some minor edits were made for clarity):

The FOKASA wishes to make you aware of a very serious social issue concerning the expatriate workers from the South-East Asian countries, especially from India.

There is a provision in the Saudi Labor Laws (for expatriate workers) that states that a sponsor has absolute freedom to declare his/her workers “runaway” (Huroob in Arabic) if he is absent from duty for few days without permission from the sponsor. When the sponsor informs this matter to the passport department, the worker will become a runaway person. The consequences of becoming runaway are disastrous. The runaway person cannot go out of Saudi Arabia through normal channels like airports or seaports. He can leave to his country only through the deportation centres, and this only happens if the sponsor wishes to allow his worker to leave. Practically the life of a person becomes hell if he is made runaway. At present there is no solution to the Huroob.

This is a weapon as well as a business to many Saudi swindlers. They procure work visas from the Saudi Ministry of Interior to recruit workers to Saudi Arabia. They sell these visas to local agents in South-East Asian countries and make a nice profit. As soon as the worker lands in Saudi Arabia, the agent will declare him as a runaway, so that the Saudi man can approach the interior ministry and ask for the same number of visas that he made huroob.

A Saudi employer may declare his employee as a runaway if he feels that the worker is trying to approach the labor office to settle a dispute with him. There are innumerable occasions where the Saudi sponsors can punish their workers by making them a runaway. This is in fact a very very sharp weapon in the hands of unscrupulous Saudi employers. They use this weapon any time, even for minor issues.

We’ve documented scores of cases in our records where the Saudi employers declare poor workers runaway and make their life hell. The sponsor in this country is “owner” and the worker his “slave”. He has absolute freedom to inflict maximum damage to the worker.

I earnestly request you to look into this issue and take up it with utmost concern.

Thanks and best regards.

R. Muraleedharan
President, FOKASA

Abusive employers, Research, Saudi Arabia, Sponsorship, Working conditions

25 thoughts on “Saudi Sponsors Punish Their Workers by Declaring Them as "Runaways"

  1. The president of Fokasa has addressed one of the long standing issues in Saudi Arabia in the right perspective. Slavery appears to be abolished from the world, but the mentality to make the weak as slave is always there as the hidden agenda of the strong. Article 1 of the Declaration of Human Rights adopted by the UN in 1948, says: “All human beings are born free and equal in dignity and rights. They are endowed with reason and conscience and act toward one another in a spirit of brotherhood.”
    But, in Saudi Arabia, such spirit of brotherhood is more often invisible when it comes to expatriate workers. Even though the Saudi press brings in focus the pathetic conditions of the expatriate workers now a days, the result-oriented settlements or solutions do not arrive in full swing. The sponsor is the determining factor to the destiny of the workers. The Saudi Labour law guarantees many benefits to the expatriate workers. But the nexus between the sponsors and the vested interest sabotage to exploit the workers here. This is the issue to be taken care of by the top authorities in the government. The government has to issue stringent directives to punish the sponsors and their accomplices as and when they breach the existing labour law. It has to appoint a special wing to monitor such human violations.

  2. na says:

    STOP going to work there !

    do not leave your country unless you have a decent contract.

  3. Abdulla says:

    If anybody can force Jawazat office to remove huroob, it will a great great help work for poor Indians. I am also in Huroob.

  4. I am also a victim of Horoob. I was locally hired in Saudi Arabia and worked in a company for 4 years and My sponsor terminated me with one months notice. After finishing the notice period I secured a Job in Binladin Group and this company gave me a release letter to change my sponsorship but unfortunately Binladin group could not change the sponsorship as they were having problems with the labor office. But after 5 months my previous company complained to passport office saying I have escaped and put my name in Huroob. Anyone who knows how to get rid of this Huroob please call me [censored for worker's safety who was contacted by]

  5. MOHAMMED says:

    [Writer was contacted by]

  6. Ali says:

    How to remove huroob can anybody help in this regard, my sponsor also placed me in huroob while taking transfer from him. How come I can resolve this issue its unbearable situation I never broke any rule whether it was India or in Saudi Arabia but suddenly it is my sponsor who made me illegal without any fault of mine so please anybody who can help me in this regard he can help me by providing information of how to process and remove the huroob jazakallah hu khairan

  7. abdullah says:

    Who became huroob…. he lost his career future…
    I am facing a big trouble…
    Once I removed huroob by giving SR.10,000 to sponsor..
    Then after two months… it automatically again huroob…
    Allahu aalam… who worked behind huroob issue.. they cannot die normally…

  8. ALI says:


  9. MT says:

    Go to the Embassy and complain them that your sponsor is lost and company is closed. They will send you giving out pass. Huroob cannot be removed as per todays notice. Before it was getting removed but Saudis made this as business so they stopped removing huroob.

  10. Ali says:

    Assalam walaikum

    Dear All Reader’s

    Iam also in huroob….
    I am facing a big trouble…
    Once I removed huroob by giving SR.8,000 to sponsor and 15,500 to agent, He remove my huroob.Then after 15 days it automatically came again in huroob…Allah Akbar.
    One thing i got from this people they think them only human being and rest are animals especially to these Countries (Bangladesh, Pakistan, India and many more).
    Pray for all Huroob brothers

    Everyone come legal in this Country and become illegal and all other countries illegal entry and become legal

  11. Mohammad says:

    Can Huroob be removed in Saudi Arabia. The officer of my father’s ex company put huroob on him because he refused to pay an exhorbitant sum to get a release for transfer.

    Please advise how this can be removed. Kindly contact me.

  12. Khan says:

    I need advise if huroob can be challenged or removed in UAE.

  13. meera says:

    i have problem help me

  14. hasan says:

    if aperson gets final exit and still the date not expiry. What happened if the peson do not leave the country.Can huroob be given before the last day of exit visa expiry

  15. praveen says:

    How to remove huroob in legally?

  16. hakim says:

    i m worked soudi for years after i came for vacation i did not return . now i want to know my passport status how

  17. mohammed says:

    Dear Sir, i was worked in saudi for 10 yrs before one year i runway from my company and come to my home country on fake passport with help of local saudi. I runway becoz my saudi claim that i have done SR 500,000 scam in his company but this is not correct. He handover my original passport to jawazt but right now iam in my home country. I want to know wheater i can visit to saudi again. Thanks pls advise Jazak Allah

    • dave says:

      hi there my friends im a filipino..i have the same problem with yours and i was put in jail for 1 month until the police ask me to have a kafala…i paid a saudi national tos erver as my kafala… my friends can i ask for you ehlp i want to go out from this country…can u tell me how?and who should i contact?please email me i need your help pls

  18. Mohammed Afzal says:

    As Salam Alaikum,
    i am here in saudi arabia since three years almost and the profession on my iqama is private driver but i found a good job for myself and my sponsor also had no objection with that but because of my profession i wasnt able to transfer my sponsorship but now when the government of saudi arabia gave chance to do so i asked my sponsor to give me release and he agreed upon it he asked for money and i gave him then he gave me the release letter and after that when my co took my documents and my passport to jawazat they returned my documents saying that my previous sponsor reported run away on me. when i am trying to contact my sponsor his cellphone is swiched off.
    please tell me what should i do in such type of situation.your help and suggestions will be very much appreciated.
    Thanks & Best Regards
    Mohammed Afzal

  19. Sajjad Ahmed says:

    Dear All,

    I would like to know, how to clear the status of Haroob “Runaway” if someone know please advice including admin.


  20. imdad ali says:

    If i work with the christen and jews in canada or america i hve been respected considered and valued human but our muslims hve become animals these saudis who are custodian of our two holy mosques and world’s muslims direction hve forgotten islam and made the same rules before prophet p.b.u.h. we r all slaves for them they can kill u punish u and u can not see even in thier eyes…contracts almost nothing for them they can do any thing they want, why still day of judgment far …i never purchesed any thing for my home even the veggetable came here for laboratory work but no such work for me all the day i m labouring with labours cant do anyy thing if i run then hurroob i dont feel saudis a muslim bcz our prophet p.b.h.told different things for muslims that i dont find on them i even stoped praying salah after seeing injusticee in this country myy heart has broken our prophet said no any arab is superiour than non arab but these people made it if u even see any saudi with anger u r dead saudi can do any thing. I can not even go back as i hve invested lots of money to come here and my familiy eyes are on me to change thier poor states my humble requuest to saudis u people madde us muslims thank u for that but now r u willing to quit us this religion this really is bad impression to non muslimss to make fun of us….even tears coming in my eyes seeing above comments of people how ruthless life they are surviving for thier families they are almost killed dead in hell bcz of saudi’s millions of peoples expats in saudia crying living suffering painfull life i think our animal politician little good then human saudi’s ya Allah this country is not only for saudi”s its for all the muslims in the world our heart our faith our islam is here all the muslims crying in love of masjid nabvi and masjid haram and in love of Allah and his prophet p.b.u.h depthly lost but sauidees hve created this anarchey on our earth of faith unity equilibirim ….oh Allah

  21. malik ibrar hussain says:

    i have problum from my kafeel
    i am sufring from 10 months by my kafeel
    so now what i do and where i go pls, advise me

  22. malik ibrar hussain says:

    this is my kafeel number 0541561500
    i came from pakistan 23 may he give my iqama after 5 months
    and i send him demond letter from one company for tnazal paper but he give me tanazal paper after 1 and half months now he have to do some work by internet to transfer my sponsor ship he hve to click yes but he is not doing this since from more then one weeks so now i am suffring and i am in saudia from 10 months with out work and i have lots problums in pakistan with my family becouse my work so please can some one tell me what i do and i complain to who and what the law for my problums

  23. dave says:

    please do help me guys i want to escape from saudi arabia

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Advancing the rights of migrant workers throughout the Middle East