Expatriates in limbo as virus cripples network

Expatriates in limbo as virus cripples network

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Expatriates in limbo as virus cripples network

JEDDAH — The Ministry of Labor and Social Development has yet to recover and bring its computer network back online after the devastating Jan. 23 Shamoon malware attack. As a result, expatriates in the Kingdom are unable to renew or transfer their residence permits (iqamas).

The scene at the Ministry of Labor’s Al-Marwah district branch at 10 a.m. Tuesday was chaotic as desperate visitors sought information on when the ministry’s computer network would be restored to full functionality.

When asked this question, a mid-level manager at the branch office threw up his hands in frustration and turned his computer around to reveal a blank screen. “This is the only thing we have been able to see on our systems for the past nine days,” he said.

When asked if he knew how much longer it would take for the ministry to restore services, his reply was “maybe a day, week, month or year.”

In order to renew an iqama, companies must pay SR650 which is the fee charged by the Jawazat or Passport Department and an additional fee of SR2,400 is charged by the Ministry of Labor. Since the Labor Ministry is experiencing a nationwide network disruption, expatriates are unable to renew their iqamas even though the Jawazat is uninfected by the crippling malware attack.

Banks have frozen the accounts of those expats who have not been able to renew their iqamas.

Seeking further answers, a trip to the Ministry of Labor’s main office in Jeddah’s Kandara district shortly before noon prayer Tuesday was even more discouraging. At the main entrance, security guards were seen waving off people, shouting: “The system is down”. When one man wanted to go inside, the guards replied: “You can go in but everyone has gone home for the day since nothing is working.”

Shamoon is known to disrupt computers by overwriting the master book record, making it impossible for them to start up, according to experts.
An alert from the telecoms authority earlier this month advised all parties to be vigilant for attacks from the Shamoon 2 variant of the virus that in 2012 crippled thousands of computers at Saudi Aramco.

Saad Al-Ali, owner of a contracting firm, told Al-Madina Arabic daily that the disruption of the ministry’s computer networks has put him and other employers in an embarrassing situation.

“For the past two weeks, all my attempts to renew iqamas of four expatriates working at my firm have failed due to the disruption of Labor ministry’s services,” he said, adding that the affected employers are afraid of facing punitive measures, including fine, jail term and recruitment ban.

65 COMMENTS

  1. It is strange that the expats cannot renew their iqamas due to thehacking of labour ministry’s site and at the same time there is penality for late renewal,?strange

  2. Is there any alternative to this or have to wait for the recovery? what about bank accounts, visa issuance, penalties?

  3. Thats the million dollar question me too want to know whether it’s restored or not; someone plss reply, my iqama expires next week

  4. As salamu aalikom.

    Dear all.
    Whats the status now .. is the system up and running normally? It’s very important. Can some one give me update information about the services.

    • some 1 from khobar labor office picked up my call and said the system will be up this sunday that will be 12th feb, do you think profession change is currently possible??

  5. Just go to your local Ministry of Labor branch office and ask. Update this thread with any information you get.

  6. there is no solution by the ministry yet since from the past two weeks, it’s really strange.
    if someone need to go in emergency & the iqama is expired, how shall he leave, for god sake just think about it for a minute. what you have done so far since 14 days? when the system will work normally?

  7. I went today to the Ministry of labor and talked to Manager. He was still not sure when will the system back to normal again. He just said he cannot say when will it be restored.. just wait.

  8. There is nothing wrong in MOI site still, you can log in. The problem is on renewing IQAMA. is someone renewed these days please update.

  9. Alhumdulillah. Finally Ministry of Labor system link with Ministry of interior is working now. My residence ID (Iqama) renewed today at 13:50 Hrs.

    • Mr. Muhammad, is this a real news. Because still my company Govt. Relation Dept. is saying that “The System Down”

  10. Is the iqama renewal service operational today ?
    Has anyone renewed there medical insuranceand iqama today ?
    If someone could provide the updated information.
    Thanks.

    • Our PR guy in the company is saying that there is still a problem with the system and he is getting 100 S.R only as renewal fee and an error after that.

  11. Hi,

    I think, their system is still down, our HR trying to open MoL site and after username and password authentication there is no message code popup in mobile to proceed further.

  12. Its restored and doing good since 1 weeks one of our frends iqama is renewed yestrday. Ask your kafeels they are making excuses for money these days.

  13. I called MOL help line 19911 and asked them. They said that the system is not operational amd may be restore till Sunday. But i am surprise that some of the people commented that their iqamas renewed etc.
    I dont know if the system working then why the 19911 MOL helpline saying it is down and will be up by sunday.

  14. Salaam please someone tell me does it (system down) effect on final exit because I want to go back to my home country

  15. Can anybody tell me when kafala process going to start because my kafala is pending for 3 weeks it already approve by previous sponsor but still in moi approval but approved from mol.

    • I went to ministry of labor office. The system is working but still not stable. Sometime up and sometime down. The kafala process was down. He said he don’t know when it will be restored.

  16. I called MOL today at 2:30 p.m, they told me that system is working infrequently and that we can renew iqama,if we keep on trying.

  17. My company GRO mentioned that the system is working intermittently since there are too many backlogs, they are unable to get all requests done quickly

  18. All those who are in middle of kafala process have to wait for atleast one week. Bcos the system is restored but there are alot of pending requests which has to be dealt first. After that everything will be smooth.
    Then your names will appear in your company Labor accunt.

  19. System is fully functional now. But due to previous pending requests new requests may take time. Specially Kafala change process people has to wait atleast one week.
    So that their name appear in Ministry of labor account.

  20. I want to change my kafala but new employer said that system is not working !
    Is it true or any body explain the situation to me??

    • Kafala system is perfectly working. We did alot of it.
      May be because of crowd he is not going to ministry of labor

          • Dear Mr. Ahmad,
            My sponsorship transfer is pending in MOI. It is showing in MOL website that ‘waiting in MOI”.
            May you guide me how many more days it will takes time to complete process.

  21. Really don’t know what is going on…!
    our company GR officials are enjoying their off time.. not even coming to office
    Always same answer ” System Down ” – even today

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