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Filipinos in Saudi Arabia

Filipinos in Saudi Arabia are either migrants or descendants of the Philippines living in Saudi Arabia. Saudi Arabia is currently the largest hirer of Overseas Filipino Workers (OFWs), and has the largest Filipino population in the Middle East. Filipinos make up the fourth-largest group of foreigners in Saudi Arabia, and are the second-largest source of remittances to the Philippines.


Filipinos first arrived in Saudi Arabia in 1973, when a group of Filipino engineers migrated to the country. Today, staff at the Saudi Arabian embassy in the Philippines process between 800 and 900 jobs for Filipinos daily. In 2008, Saudi Arabia had 300,000 job orders for Filipinos. Later, in the first time hiring Filipino medical professionals, Saudi Arabia announced intentions to hire 6,000 Filipinos as doctors and nurses between 2009 and 2011. In addition to medical professionals, Filipinos work as automotive workers, construction workers, and engineers, as well as in the fields of desalination, petroleum production and processing, telecommunications, and transportation.

There are 24 Filipino international schools in Saudi Arabia, 18 of which are found near Riyadh or Jeddah.


Every year, an unknown number of Filipinos in Saudi Arabia are “victims of sexual abuses, maltreatment, unpaid salaries, and other labor malpractices,” according to John Leonard Monterona, the Middle East coordinator of Migrante, a Manila-based OFW organization. Some Filipinos are attracted and transported to Saudi Arabia illegally, where they are left stranded without work. Between January and August 2008, approximately 800 throughout the country sought help at Migrante chapters, and 922 others were deported to the Philippines in the first three months of 2008 after overstaying their visa requirements. At one point in early 2008, 103 Filipinos stranded in Jeddah lived in a tent camp under a bridge before being able to be processed for deportation.

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