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Saudi job market reopens for Bangladeshis

The Daily Star - 2 February 2015 - Ending a six-year restriction, Saudi Arabia has decided to open its labour market for Bangladesh, generating new hopes among thousands of overseas jobseekers.

Ending a six-year restriction, Saudi Arabia has decided to open its labour market for Bangladesh, generating new hopes among thousands of overseas jobseekers.

"A high Saudi official has informed me over the telephone that the manpower market of the country is open for Bangladeshi workers from today," Bangladeshi Ambassador in Riyadh Shahidul Islam told The Daily Star at 2:30pm yesterday.

A high-level Saudi delegation comprising representatives from the ministries concerned is likely to visit Bangladesh in a week to discuss the recruitment process.

The foreign ministry in Dhaka confirmed the news with an official announcement yesterday.

The development comes a week after Expatriates' Welfare and Overseas Welfare Minister Khandker Mosharraf Hossain's visit to the Kingdom.

The Kingdom, Bangladesh's largest overseas labour market which is home to some 15 lakh Bangladeshi migrant workers, had imposed the restriction in early 2008, alleging malpractices in the recruitment system.

It led to a decline in labour migration from Bangladesh to the Kingdom. A total of 1.32 lakh Bangladeshis had migrated to the oil-rich nation in 2008 but the number drastically dropped to 14,666 in 2009, according to official data.

With the restriction lifted yesterday, however, Bangladesh's international recruiting agencies are upbeat.

"Lifting the restriction on the recruitment of Bangladeshi workers in the labour market of Saudi Arabia will play a significant role in creating more jobs for our workers," said Ali Haider Chowdhury, senior vice-president of Bangladesh Association of International Recruiting Agencies.

Referring to the high cost realised by local recruiting agencies, he said, "Baira and the government must work together to keep the cost for sending workers to Saudi Arabia at a reasonable level."

According to migration experts, Bangladeshi jobseekers pay higher amounts – ranging from Tk 3 lakh to Tk 8 lakh – to migrate to the Middle Eastern countries including Saudi Arabia.

Many migrant workers, as a result, often tend to change jobs for higher salaries, an attitude that irks their employers.

Experts believe similar reasons led to restrictions imposed on Bangladeshi workers by the United Arab Emirates in 2012, and by Malaysia in 2009.

While over 8 lakh Bangladeshis secured jobs in 2007 and 2008 in the Middle Eastern and other Asian countries, the number has dropped almost by half since 2009.

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Source: http://www.thedailystar.net/frontpage/saudi-job-market-reopens-for-bangladeshis-62784

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