Over 10,000 Indian workers facing ‘food crisis’ in Saudi Arabia

Over 10,000 Indian workers facing ‘food crisis’ in Saudi Arabia

New Delhi, July 31 (IANS) In what has come as a shocking development, over 10,000 Indian workers in Saudi Arabia are facing a “food crisis”, External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj said on Saturday.

“The number of Indian workers facing food crisis in Saudi Arabia is over Ten Thousand,” Sushma Swaraj said in a tweet.

“It is not 800 as is being reported,” she said.

Appealing to the over three million-strong expatriate Indian population in the Gulf kingdom to “help your brothers and sisters”, she said: “There is nothing mightier than the collective will of Indian nation.”

Earlier on Saturday, she said that a large number of Indians have lost their jobs in Saudi Arabia and Kuwait.

“The employers have not paid wages, closed down their factories,” she said, adding that Minister of State for External Affairs V.K. Singh would be going to Saudi Arabia to sort out the issue.

She stated this in response to a tweet from a man who said that over 800 jobless Indians have been starving for three days in Jeddah.

“We have asked the Indian Embassy in Saudi Arabia to serve you food in Jeddah,” Sushma Swaraj said.

“My colleague @Gen_VKSingh is reaching Saudi Arabia to sort out all such matters,” she stated.

She said that while the situation in Kuwait was manageable, matters were much worse in Saudi Arabia.

Minister of State for External Affairs M.J. Akbar would be taking up the issue with the Saudi and Kuwaiti authorities, she said.

“I assure you that no Indian worker rendered unemployed in Saudi Arabia will go without food,” Sushma Swaraj said in another tweet.

“I am monitoring this on hourly basis,” she added.

Following this, the man who had tweeted about the situation in Jeddah, again tweeted pictures of Indians queuing up for food.

Meanwhile, an Indian community member who has been actively involved in the food distribution work told IANS over phone from Jeddah that there are at least seven distribution camps around that Saudi city.

“We have provided food to four camps around Jeddah in the last three days and the remaining three camps will be covered in a day or two,” he said.

He said that in the last three days, Indian consulate officials and community members in Jeddah have provided 15,475 kg of foodstuffs besides cooking ingredients and 1,850 readymade food packets.

Food was distributed among about 3,000 Indian workers on Saturday, it is learnt.

These workers have been laid off by Saudi Oger, a leading Saudi construction company.

The community worker said that there has been a slowdown in the Saudi construction industry because of the fall in global crude oil prices.

“Not only Saudi Arabia, it has been happening in all Gulf countries,” he said.

While Saudi Arabia has over three million expatriate Indians, there are over 800,000 of them in Kuwait. Most of them are blue collars.

800 jobless Indians starving in Jeddah, Swaraj steps in to help

New Delhi (PTI): Nearly 800 Indian workers are reportedly starving for the last three days in Saudi city of Jeddah after losing their jobs and Minister of State for External Affairs VK Singh is traveling to the Gulf nation to sort out the issue.


External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj said the Indian Embassy in Saudi Arabia has been directed to serve food to them and that she was monitoring the situation on an hourly basis.

Her response came following a tweet by a man who said around 800 Indians are starving for the last three days in Jeddah and sought her intervention.

“We have asked @IndianEmbRiyadh to provide free ration to the unemployed Indian workers in Saudi Arabia,” she tweeted.

Swaraj said Indians in Saudi Arabia and Kuwait were facing various problems relating to their work and wage and that the “matters are much worse” in Saudi Arabia.

She said MoS External Affairs M J Akbar will take up the issue with Kuwait and Saudi authorities.

“My colleagues @Gen_VKSingh will go to Saudi Arabia to sort out these matters and @MJakbar will take up with Kuwait and Saudi authorities.

“I assure you that no Indian worker rendered unemployed in Saudi Arabia will go without food. I am monitoring this on an hourly basis,” she said.

Swaraj said a large number of Indians have lost their jobs in Saudi Arabia and Kuwait and that their employers have not paid wages and closed down their factories.

“As a result, our brothers and sisters in Saudi Arabia and Kuwait are facing extreme hardship,” she said, adding while the situation in Kuwait is “manageable”, matters are much “worse” in Saudi Arabia.

Later, Swaraj posted pictures of food being provided to the Indian workers.


  1. I must say that Mrs. Sushma Swaraj along with Gen. V.K. Singh have performed their duties well in getting each indian citizen from trouble effected countries. Hats off to you Madam & Sir. None of the congress members have ever taken such lead in protecting fellow indians on a forgien land.

  2. Since quite sometime, the economic condition in the Arabian Gulf countries has been going from bad to worse. simply because the oil prices have plummeted. One has to realise that the incomes of these countries are dependent on production of crude oil and refining it. Thereafter, they export crude, refined oil and petroleum products. They just do not have anything else to boast of, i.e. industries, tourism, film industry, agriculture, educational facilities to attract foreign students, services, thriving software or pharmaceutical industries nand other things that will bring them assured sources of income. They could get some income by export of dates and flavoured camel’s milk, marketed in cute and attractive packages. Further, research on solar energy is making much headway.

    I am very sad to hear about the plight of Indians in Saudi Arabia and Kuwait. As far as I know, the economic environment of Bahrain is very bad. The salesmen in shops are just twiddling their thumbs, yawning and scratching, in anticipation that things will improve. Many businesses have closed down.

  3. Indians form the single largest majority in all Gulf countries, and since most of them are in low paying jobs the government of India should enact and most importantly enforce laws through their foreign counter parts. If any of them do not fully co-operate then they should be able to go up to the highest law of the land to seek justice. But the problem is so huge because local laws just do not support foreign workers rights, and there is no basic concept of human rights in any of those countries.

    In the West our entire legal system and human rights are for all (though we do have our rotten apples) by and large everyone is protected and so there is no need to seek redress from the Indian missions here. Hence, India needs to have a special ministry with a large workforce that would investigate all cases and seek justice for those who have been effected.

    As a last resort the defaulting companies and individuals must be made to sign cash bonds through our banking system to ensure that monetary compensation is made available, and if they continue to default in large numbers then a temporary ban should be put until a solution is found. If still no solution is found, make the ban permanent.

    I’m 100% they will not find any workforce anywhere in the work where they are exploited to the hilt and on top of that they could go without pay.

  4. Pointing out that about three million Indians including people from all faiths are working and living happily in Saudi Arabia, they said sacking of employees by some firms due to crisis is a rare case.

    “I do not know why media is portraying as if all Indians in Saudi Arabia are starving to death,” ?

    “Private firms in India like Kingfisher, Sahara and many others went bankrupt and their workers lost jobs. Has the Indian government given them jobs?

    “If the situation had been alarming for Indian workers, how come remittances sent by NRIs from the Kingdom is highest?”

    Does Indian mass media report the crisis in the same tone in west when fortune 500 companies sacked thousands of employee in short notice?

    If the condition is alarming why the employee didn’t ask for termination of contract and seek job back home instead of starving as reported by the media?

    Why is there no focus on the rising crime rates in the world especially in Western countries despite their huge law enforcing machinery and generally good economic conditions? Does it not point to the inefficiency of their law system and the prevalence of social conditions leading to crimes?

    Jai Hind

  5. To the best of my knowledge, no one lives happily in Saudi Arabia. Some expatriates live there, because they earn good money and the avenues to spend are limited. Others by skills, experience and qualifications, do not have the parameters to get good jobs or look for good jobs to brighten their future and so stick to the jobs they have. In case of western expatriates, they stay in Saudi Arabia as the money is good and during the two Eids, Christmas, New Year, etc. that come during the year, they go to Thailand, Philippines and other places for fun and frolic, especially those who are on single status employment contracts. Most western expatriates work for two to three years and then they quit either in quest of greener pastures or to settle down in their country.

    For a male, marrying is an expensive proposition which all Saudis cannot afford. So, they go to the Philippines and Thailand and marry there and set and finance small businesses for their spouses, so that they are self-employed. They visit them once in four months. In short, a normal Saudi’s motto is, “Cheap and best.” They even come to India’s Hyderabad to marry Muslim females and there are cases they have married underaged females and then take them to Saudi and some of them face torture and ill-treatment.

    There are two countries with no human rights at all: Saudi Arabia and North Korea.

    Today, with the oil prices having plummeted, Saudis are in a very bad shape. What else do they have to export? Maybe, the dates grown in the oasis of Al Hassa and they could export camel’s milk, either plain or favoured, in jazzy or neatly designed tetra-packs and plastic bottles. However, there should be takers for that stuff. There is no scope to export camel’s meat, as it is hard and tastes and smells awful.

    However, there is one who prefers to play the Abbas numbers, saying that life is fantastic in Saudi Arabia. Life is good in Saudi Arabia! My foot! Why will Saudis run around the world seeking fun and frolic? As per me, the best places amongst the Arabian Gulf countries are the Sultanate of Oman and the Kingdom of Bahrain.

  6. SMR – “3 Million Indians of all faiths are working and happily living in Saudi Arabia” ????

    Perhaps, they all could be happier if ALL faiths were allowed to construct their very own places of worship all over the kingdom, in particular Mecca & Medina? Why are only Christians are allowed some freedom inside Aramco camp?

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