Saudi Daily ‘Al-Watan’ Reports: Saudi Arabia Now Allows Jews To Work In The Kingdom


king-abdullah-saudiThe Saudi daily Al-Watan reported this week that Saudi authorities are now allowing people of all faiths, including Jews, to work in the kingdom, and added that this was proof of the country’s openness to other religions and cultures.

It should be mentioned that the Saudi religious establishment is divided over the issue of foreign workers in the country, due to differing interpretations of a hadith of the Prophet that states, “Remove the Jews and Christians from the Arabian Peninsula.”

In this context it is also worth mentioning that Saudi Arabia is the only Gulf state that still bans the establishment of houses of worship for religions other than Islam, despite pressure from the Vatican on the matter.

Following is a summary of the report in Al-Watan:

Al-Watan stated that the Saudi Labor Ministry website, which deals with “importing [workers] for institutions and companies,” lists a number of options for foreign workers’ religions: Zoroastrianism, Communism, Judaism, Buddhism, Sikhism, Islam, Christianity, Hinduism, and no religion. The paper said that “the labor authorities in the kingdom have permitted the import of people who practice Judaism for working on its soil” and called this “a move that emphasizes openness to all monotheistic religions and to people from other cultures.”

The paper cited a knowledgeable unnamed Labor Ministry source as saying that there is no prohibition against people of any religion, including Judaism, entering Saudi Arabia, and that the Labor Ministry’s visa application process focuses on a worker’s nationality, not his religion. The source also said: “We bar entry [into Saudi Arabia] only to those with Israeli citizenship. Other than that, we are open to most nationalities and religions” and added that Saudi law does not prohibit its citizens from forming ties with anyone of any religion, pointing at the King Abdallah bin Abdul Aziz International Center for Interreligious and Intercultural Dialogue as proof. The source added: “For example, if a worker is a citizen of Yemen but practices Judaism, the [Saudi] Embassy [in Yemen] would not object to issuing him a work visa for the kingdom.”

Saudi Shura Council Foreign Affairs Committee member Sadaqa bin Yahya Fadhel expressed his support for the Labor Ministry’s decision, saying, “We Muslims have no problem with the Jews.” He added, “Our biggest problem, as an Arab and Islamic nation, is with the Zionist movement, and not with the Jews or Christians.” The Zionist movement, he explained, exploits Judaism in order to attain its goals.

He continued: “We are permitted to have a connection with Jews, and importing a Jewish worker is exactly the same as importing [a worker] of another faith. I think the Labor Ministry’s decision is correct. So long as we have no relationship whatsoever with Israelis, then there is no problem with this.”

He concluded: “It is difficult for us, as a Saudi Arab kingdom, to ban ties with a particular religion. The ban must apply only to Israeli citizens, because Israel is linked to the Zionist movement, which is an imperialist colonialist movement that exploits the Jewish faith and is therefore unrelated to Judaism and is totally different from it.”


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  1. Oh! Yemen is indeed overcrowded with Jewish engineers: many of them will be eager to apply for a senior position in Saudi Arabia. So are Pakistan, Indonesia, and countless other Muslim countries. Perhaps Daesh too.

    And, I am glad they have now an official policy with regards to Jewish travelers and workers. But hey, if they loathe so much the cooperation with Israeli citizens and with the Zionist Entity, may I suggest instead of sending out vitriolic press releases, they indeed stop it. That, if ever would come to pass, might turn out to be quite entertaining.

  2. With regards to the Vatican, yes, they indeed had pressured Saudi Arabia about churches. The concept of “freedom of religion” in the Saudi Arabian Kingdom is that non-muslims may worship in privacy, e.g. in one’s own house or room. This holds for all religions but is particularly annoying to catholics, as their services need a priest.

    I recall the answer: the Saudis retorted that there are no mosques in the Vatican nor should there be any. Of course a Muslim in Vatican would no doubt be welcome to say salat in the privacy of their room. There is no reason, either, for the Saudi Arabian Kingdom should do otherwise.

    I think perhaps in this respect, we should give a second look at the attitude of both of our “dear” cousins.


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