The American University in Cairo Center for Migration and Refugee Studies Database
Legal Instruments
Statistics and Figures
    Kingdom of Saudi Arabia

  Legal Instruments   

This section provides a list of international conventions and regional/bilateral agreements to which each country is a signatory, as well as national legislation that deals with movement, migration, asylum and human rights. Each listing includes a PDF/ link to a publically accessible document of the convention/law mentioned.
  International Conventions:

General International Law

Vienna Convention on Consular Relations, 24 April 1963 (entered into force 19 March 1967) 596 U.N.T.S 261.

Ratified 1988



International Criminal Law

Convention against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment, 10 December 1984 (entered into force 26 June 1987) 1465 U.N.T.S. 85 [CAT].
Signed N/A, Ratified 1997


Protocol against the Smuggling of Migrants by Land, Sea and Air, supplementing the United Nations Convention against Transnational Organized Crime, 15 November 2000 (entered into force 15 November 2000) 2241 U.N.T.S. 507 [Palermo Protocol].
Signed 2002, Ratified 2007



Protocol to Prevent, Suppress and Punish Trafficking in Persons, Especially Women and Children, supplementing the United Nations Convention against Transnational Organized Crime, 15 November 2000 (entered into force 15 December 2000) 2237 U.N.T.S 319 [Palermo Protocol]
Signed 2002, Ratified 2007



United Nations Convention Against Transnational Organized Crime, 15 November 2000 (entered into force 29 September 2003) 2225 U.N.T.S 209.
Signed 2002, Ratified 2005



Slavery Convention, 25 September 1926 (entered into force 7 July 1955), 60 L.N.T.S. 253. Ratified 1973 PDF


International Human Rights Law

Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women, 18 December 1979, 1249 U.N.T.S 513 [CEDAW].
Signed 2000, Ratified 200

Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination, 7 March 1966, 660 U.N.T.S 195 [CERD].
Ratified 1997  


Convention on the Rights of the Child, 20 November 1989, 1577 U.N.T.S. 3 [CRC].

 Ratified 1996  


Universal Declaration of Human Rights, UN General Assembly Resolution A/RES/217 A (III), 10 December 1948, Art 14. [UDHR].



International Humanitarian Law/Law of War

Geneva Convention for the Amelioration of the Condition of the Wounded and Sick in Armed Forces in the Field, 12 August 1949 (entered into force 21 October 1950) 75 U.N.T.S. 31[First Geneva Convention]. Ratified 1963

Link to Conv.

Geneva Convention for the Amelioration of the Condition of Wounded, Sick and Shipwrecked Members of Armed Forces at Sea
, 12 August 1949 (entered into force 21 October 1950) 75 U.N.T.S. 85 [Second Geneva Convention].

Ratified 1963

Link to Conv.

Geneva Convention relative to the Treatment of Prisoners of War
, 12 August 1949 (entered into force 21 October 1950) 75 U.N.T.S. 135

Ratified 1963 [Third Geneva Convention].

Link to Conv.


Geneva Convention relative to the Protection of Civilian Persons in Time of War, 12 August 1949 (entered into force 21 October 1950) 75 U.N.T.S. 287 [Fourth Geneva Convention]. Ratified 1963

Link to Conv.


Protocol Additional to the Geneva Conventions of 12 August 1949, and Relating to the Protection of Victims of International Armed Conflicts, 8 June 1977 (entered into force Dec. 7, 1978.) 1125 U.N.T.S. 3 [Protocol I].
Ratified 1987

Link to Protocol.


Protocol Additional to the Geneva Conventions of 12 August 1949, and Relating to the Protection of Victims of Non-International Armed Conflicts, 8 June 1977 (entered into force 7 December 1978) 1125 U.N.T.S. 609
Ratified 2001 [Protocol II].

Link to Protocol



International Labor Law 

ILO Convention C 111 Discrimination (Employment and Occupation) Convention (1958).

Ratified 1978

Link to Conv.


ILO Convention C 29 Forced or Compulsory Labour Convention (1932).

Ratified 1978

Link to Conv.

ILO Multilateral Framework on Labour Migration (2005).

Link to Framework



International Trade Law

Protocol to the General Agreement on Trade in Services (GATS) (Movement of Natural Persons), 16 October, 1995 (entered into force 26 July 1996), L167, P. 43 [Protocol III]


  Regional and Bilateral Agreements:

Regional Agreements

Charter of the Gulf Cooperation (1981)
Link to Charter

EU and Gulf Countries Cooperation Agreement addresses cooperation in trade in services, Article 1 and 2 (1988).

Economic Agreement between Gulf Cooperation Countries addresses issues on labor migration and rights of mobility within the gulf countries (2004).

Agreement among the Gulf Cooperation Countries on jurisdictions (1997).

Arab Labor Convention No. 16 on Labor Social Services  (1983) PDF_Arabic


Protocol for the Treatment of Palestinians in Arab States, League of Arab State (1965). Link to protocol_Eg


Irregular Migration & Readmission Agreements 

None Currently Listed


Labor Agreements 

Cooperation Relations Between the Ministry of Labour of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia and Sri Lanka's Foreign Employment Promotion and Welfare Ministry (2014).

Cooperation Agreement between the Ministry of Labor of Saudi Arabia kingdom and Sri Lanka's Foreign Employment Promotion and Welfare Ministry in the Field Recruitment of Domestic Workers (2014).
PDF_AR Pg. 4

Agreement on Labor Cooperation between the Ministry of overseas Indian Affairs of the republic of India and the Ministry of Labor of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia for Domestic Service Workers Recruitment (2014).

Agreement between Saudi Arabia and France on the Exchange of Labor expertise (2008)


Social Security Agreements 
None Currently Listed 

Other Relevant Agreements 

 Agreement on cooperation in higher education and scientific research between the Government of the French Republic and the Government of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia (2008)


  National Legislation:

Saudi Nationals

Saudi Arabia nationality law of 1954

The Travel Document Law No. M/24 of 2000
Link to Law_ArLink to Law_Eg

General Framework
The Basic Law of Governance of 1992, Articles 36, 41-43 and 47 related to migration
Link to Basic Law_ArPDF_ArPDF_Eg


Entry and Exit 

Law No. 17/2/25/1337 of 1952 concerning entry of foreigners 
Link to Law_ArPDF_Eg

Council of Ministers Decision No. 406 of 2012 concerning special arrangements for the children of Saudi women married to foreigners


Labor Migration
Council of Ministers Decision No. 50 of 1994 on Saudisation

 Council of Ministers Decree 166 in 2000  issued by  King Fahd bin Abdul Aziz Al Saud abolishes the sponsorship system and safeguarded certain rights of migrant workers. This includes explicitly prohibiting the confiscation of migrant workers’ passports

Council's decision No. 166 of 12 July 2000 regulates concerning the relationship between employers and foreign workers.
(no citation. no PDF find it)

Royal Decree of 2001 imposes a 1000 Royal charge on worker occupation change
(PDF unavailable. Umm Al Qora Gazette, 2001-11-09, No. 3868, p. 36) 

Council of Ministers Order No. 257 of  2006 provides that an amount of 1000 Saudi Royal should be paid for each working permit in Saudi Arabia
(PDF unavailable. Umm Al-Qura, 2006-12-29, No. 83, No. 4129, p. 5)

Ministerial Decision No/ 1/2835 of 2006 on complaints 

Ministerial Decision No. 3826 of 2006 on working hours

Ministerial Decision No. 2833 of 2006  on work injuries

Ministerial Decision No. 399 of 2007 on housing conditions for workers

Ministerial Decision No. 2832 of 2006 on overtime hours

Decision No. 310 of 2013 on domestic workers

Ministerial Decision No. 1/400 of 2007 related to Saudi labor law

Royal Decree No. M/51 issuing the Saudi labor law

Royal Decree M.1 issuing the Foreign Investment Law

Ministerial Decision No. 1/4687 of 2011 on quota of Saudis in Saudi labor market

Ministerial Decision No. 4040 of 2011 adapting Nitaqat Program

Law of 2012 on implementing regulations of the Foreign Investment Law

Regulations on recruitment companies, 2012

Royal Decree M/73 of 2014 regulates seasonal and temporary work
PDF_Ar pg. 7

Ministerial Decision No. 1/4985 of 2011 on establishments and entities 

Royal Decree No. M/51 issuing the Saudi labor law as amended by Royal Decree No. M/46 on 2015

Royal Decree No.M/15 issuing the Law of real estate ownership and investment by Non-Saudis
Link to Law_EgLink to law_Ar

The Health law, article 13 extends to non-Saudis 
Link to law_EgLink to Law_Ar

Royal Decree No. M/31 issuing the imprisonment and detention law
Link to law_Ar

Royal Decree No. M/33 issuing the social insurance law, Articles 2, 4, 5, 28, 30-37 pertain to non-Saudis
Link to law_EgLink to law_Ar

Income Tax law of 2014, Articles 1, 2, 3, 6 and 7 pertain to non-Saudis 
Link to Law_Ar



Smuggling and Trafficking Laws
Anti-trafficking in person law of 2009
Link to Law_EgLink to Law_Ar



Refugees and Asylum Seekers
The Basic Law of 1992 states that the State will grant political asylum, if so required by the public interest
Link to Basic Law_ArPDF_ArPDF_Eg




  Statistics and Figures:   

This section provides links to regularly updated sites that provide statistics on migrants and refugees in different countries around the world.

Below are links to various databases that provide statistics and figures relevant to the movement of people in and out of Saudi Arabia:  

UNFPA Migration Indicator 

UNHCR Statistics Database

Internal Displacement Monitoring Centre
IDMC-Saudi Arabia


This section includes a comprehensive list of sources and links to journal articles, books, webpages, etc. for each country in the database that address migration and refugee topics within the context of education, health, legal, psychosocial, political, among others. Each listed source includes a brief description of the material and a link.


Link to Researchers

 Bel-Air, Françoise De  “Demography, Migration and Labour Market in Saudi Arabia.” European University Institute, Migration Policy Center Gulf Research Center (2014). Link to PDF

Keyword: migration, labor, market, Saudi Arabia, deportation, citizenship 

This report provides extensive details on the outward and inward migration flows and stocks of Saudi Arabia. 

Nadim, Waseem, et al. "Depression among Migrant Workers in Al-Qassim, Saudi Arabia." Journal of Affective disorders 206 (2016): 103-8. Link to Article

Keyword: depression, migrants, mental, health, migrant, workers

This research examines the correlation, if any, between conditions and duration of work for migrant workers, and depression in Al Qassim, Saudi Arabia. It finds that depression was common among the population, however, it did not vary with the conditions and duration of work.

Okruhlik, Gwenn, and Patrick Conge. "National Autonomy, Labor Migration and Political Crisis: Yemen and Saudi Arabia." Middle East Journal 51.4 (1997): 554. (Summary adapted from link) Link to Article

Keyword: autonomy, labor, migration, political, crisis, Yemen, Saudi Arabia

In this article, the authors examine how the struggles of state to assert their autonomy affect the international flow of labor basing their conclusion on the Gulf crises in the summer of 1990. Examining Saudi Arabia and Yemen, the authors find that weak states engaged in the transfer of labor resist political accommodation even at the expense of profitable economic transactions. 

Sevilla, Henelito A. "Nationalization Scheme (Nitaqat) in Saudi Arabia and the Condition of Filipino Migrant Workers." Journal of Identity & Migration Studies 9.2 (2015): 7-23. Link to PDF

Keyword: Filipino, migrant, workers, Saudi Arabia, nationalization, policy, GCC

This article elucidates the conditions of Filipino migrants workers in Saudi Arabia, since the Saudization policy in 2011 by examining the policy from a Filipino perspective. The author argues that the Saudization policy has been a driver for GCC governments nationalizations policies that gravely impact migrant workers. 

Silvey, Rachel. "Transnational Domestication: State Power and Indonesian Migrant Women in Saudi Arabia." Political Geography 23 (2004): 245-64. (Summary adapted from resource) Link to Article

Keywords: transnational migration, gender, the state, domestic labor, Indonesia, Saudi Arabia. 

The author explores the role of Indonesia and Saudi Arabia in shaping the migration of Indonesian women between the two countries, and the challenges the two states' jurisdictional scopes have created  in conjunction with international labor migration circuit. In particular, the article analyzes the role of the two states in regulating migration and working conditions of Indonesians employed in Saudi Arabia and their influence on the feminization of the migrant labor force, the limitation of their policies for protecting migrant women, and the political strategies that activities are employing to broaden the states' jurisdictional scopes. Through this case study, the author argues that focusing on the gender politics related to international migration can reveal the regulatory limits and the internationalization of the state. 

Vlieger, Antoinette. "Domestic Workers in Saudi Arabia and the Emirates: Trafficking Victims?" International Migration 50.6 (2012): 180-94. Link to Article

Keyword: domestic, workers, Saudi Arabia, Emirates, UAE, victims, domestic workers, human trafficking, Palermo Protocol, Saudi Arabia,  forced confinement, exploitation, migrant workers, intent

In response to Jureidini's article entitled 'Trafficking and Contract Migrant Workers in the Middle East' that discuses the difficulty of establishing whether migrant domestic workers are victims of trafficking, the author argues that migrant domestic workers are often victims of trafficking. The author uses examples of migrants in Saudi Arabia and UAE to articulate his argument concluding with policy suggestions to better address the issue of trafficking.  

"Women Migrant Workers Abused in Saudi Arabia." Wikigender. Link to Webpage

Keyword: women, migrant, workers, abuse, human rights, Saudi Arabia

This report provides details on the conditions of female migrant workers in Saudi Arabia and calls for action to address the issues. 




Fisher, Betsy. “Gender Discrimination and Statelessness in the Gulf Cooperation Council States.”, 23 Mich. J. Gender & L. 269, 312 (2016) Link to Journal

Keyword: gender, nationality, children, mother, law, Bahrain, Kuwait, Oman, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, and the United Arab Emirates.

"Using the Gulf Cooperation Council countries as a case study, this Article outlines the ways in which gender and birth status discrimination create new cases of  statelessness. These occur when women are legally unable to convey their nationality to their children. This Article studiesgenderand birth status discrimination  nationality laws and in civil registration, family, and criminal law in each GCCstate: Bahrain, Kuwait, Oman, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, and the United Arab Emirates.  Ending statelessness will require these states to end discriminationagainst women and non-marital children in all of its forms in law and practice." 


Shiblak, Abbas. "The Lost Tribes of Arabia." Forced Migration Review 32 (2009): 37-38. Link to Webpage

Keyword: Sahrawi, Palestinians, overview, numbers, history, Bidoon, Kurds, 

  Precise numbers of stateless persons in the Arab region is unknown,  although it is widely recognized that it is one of the highest in the world. This article gives a    broad summary of the stateless communities in the Middle East region: the Palestinians, the Bidoon of Arabia, the Kurds of Syria and the Sahrawi in Algeria. 


UN High Commissioner for Refugees. "Global Action Plan to End Statelessness." UN High Commissioner for Refugees (2014). Link to Article 

Keyword: born, gender, protection, documentation 

                        “To End Statelessness within 10 years, the Global Action Plan to End Statelessness: 2014-2024 establishes a guiding framework of 10 Actions to be undertaken  by States with the support of UNHCR and other stakeholders to: resolve existing major situations of statelessness, prevent new cases of statelessness from  emerging and better identity and protect stateless populations.”