Muslims pray at the Grand Mosque during the annual Haj pilgrimage in the holy city of Mecca, Saudi Arabia August 6, 2019. REUTERS/Umit Bektas
CAIRO – 14 March 2021: Egyptian working migrants in Saudi Arabia will not be subjected to the sponsorship system (Kafala) anymore after the Egyptian Consulate in Jeddah has received a report confirms the cancelation of the system as of March 14, 2021, according to a statement from the Egyptian Ministry of Manpower.
The Kafala system requires unskilled migrant laborers in countries like Saudi Arabia, the UAE, Iraq and Jordan to have a sponsor in the country, usually their employer, who holds their passports and has authority over their visa and legal status.
The new amendments to the Saudi system gave new privileges to the working migrants, including freedom of moving from one job to another without the employer's approval and during the validity of his contract with certain conditions, and freedom to travel outside the Kingdom as soon as the employer is notified electronically.
The worker has the right to leave the Kingdom permanently without the employer's consent.
The Kafeel system has been in use in the Gulf since the 1970s, forcing foreigners who wish to find employment to have a guarantor in the host country. If the government is called upon to be a guarantor, it does so by direct act; if the position is in the private sector, it is usually the manager of the company or the person who has provided employment who becomes the guarantor.
Usually, the kafeel is a partner who gets a portion of the worker's earnings, while keeping the worker's passport, so that the worker cannot leave the country without the permission of his kafeel. The kafeel system has been always criticized by the International Labour Organisation and human rights organizations.
Some Gulf countries started to move away from the kafeel system. Last December, the government of the United Arab Emirates declared that foreign workers would be able to