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Mon 18 Feb 2008 04:31 PM

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83,000 illegal residents in Dubai

Dubai Police say in 2007 more than half requested amnesty before official grace period ended.

More than 83,000 people illegally entered or were resident in Dubai last year, Dubai's police said, reported the Emirates News Agency (WAM) on Monday.

The majority of them surrendered to the police before June last year, when Dubai held a five-month official amnesty allowing 250,000 illegal foreign labourers from to return to their home countries without penalty.

"Of this number, 51,277 presented themselves before the relative authorities during the three-month amnesty period offered to them last year,'' Lt. General Dhabi Khalfan, chief of Dubai's police said.

''The number of infiltrators who sneaked into the country illegally and were seized by the police stood at 20,633 and 8,206 people entered the country and stayed there on an illegal basis.''

Of those 20,633 illegal immigrants in the country, all were seized by the police outside the amnesty period, Khalfan said.

UAE Minister of Labour Ali Abdullah Al Kaabi in December last year sent out a stark warning to employers about the hiring of illegal workers.

"Any company that is caught employing illegal workers will face a US $13,615 (AED50,000) fine per worker on the first offence, and a $27,230 fine per worker on the second offence," Al Kaabi said.

"And if the owner of the company is an expatriate, he will be deported and banned from entering the country for life while if the owner is a national, he will be jailed for a minimum of six months."

The GCC since December last year has also been considering a controversial residency cap on how long semi-skilled and unskilled foreign workers can live in the Gulf.

The proposal has sparked outrage among expatriate communities and was widely criticised by businesses already struggling to retain staff.

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