By Andy Sambidge
Labour Market Regulatory Authority says 52,000 expats in country without proper paperwork
Bahrain has launched a new crackdown on illegal expat workers, following similar moves in Saudi Arabia.
The Labour Market Regulatory Authority (LMRA) estimates that 52,000 expats are now living in Bahrain without the proper paperwork, Bahrain's Gulf Daily News reported.
"The number of illegal workers is going up compared with past few years," said LMRA chief executive Ausamah Al Absi said in comments published by the paper.
"We are doing everything we can to reduce the affect on people and only those who insist on being illegal will be caught, deported and cannot come back again."
He said the government did not want to resort to "brute force" or "harsh measures" to solve the problem and was keen to give illegal workers a chance to rectify their status.
Al Absi was quoted as saying he was not a big fan of Bahrain offering another general amnesty for illegal workers.
"What I am saying is that if someone (illegal worker) comes forward and wants to go home, we will assist on getting his passport from the employer, arrange travel documents with the embassy and purchase an air ticket."
The illegal expatriate worker will later be welcomed back to Bahrain for any subsequent legal employment.
Tens of thousands of foreign workers have been trying to leave Saudi Arabia recently after the government said they would be forgiven any fees or fines for visa violations such as overstaying or switching jobs.
Riyadh is pursuing sweeping labour reform that would tackle domestic unemployment by pushing firms to hire Saudi nationals - who now hold only about one in 10 private sector jobs - instead of some of its roughly 9 million foreign residents.