A look at life inside Shumaisi

A look at life inside Shumaisi

April 07, 2017

Ibrahim Alawi

Detention center ready to receive thousands of illegal residents
By Ibrahim Alawi
Okaz/Saudi Gazette

THE Shumaisi detention center is one of the largest such facilities in the Kingdom established a few years ago to detain violators of residency and labor regulations. The detention center provides all necessary services to the undocumented foreign workers prior to their repatriation to their respective countries at the Saudi government’s expense.

Spread over an area of 2.5 million square meters along Jeddah-Makkah Expressway, the center can hold 32,000 inmates, said Maj. Gen. Ibrahim Al-Hamzi, who is the officer in charge of the center.

“We provide the detainees with healthcare, food and legal assistance,” he added.

The sprawling facility includes offices of foreign consulates, apart from a hospital, an automatic bakery, a kitchen and a laundry.

Okaz/Saudi Gazette visited the center to see its readiness to accommodate a large number of undocumented foreigners who are likely to be arrested during a massive crackdown expected to follow the three-month general amnesty announced by the Saudi government as part of the ongoing “Nation Without Violators” campaign.

Undocumented workers in Jeddah and Makkah can also approach the Passport Department at the center to finalize their departure procedures during the grace period.

The center is supervised by the Finance Ministry and run by the Interior Ministry.

The center’s kitchen covers an area of 13,200 square meters and has a capacity to supply 150,000 hot and cold meals daily, in addition to juices, water and various types of fruits. The kitchen prepares all types of meals made of fish, chicken and meat.

The central laundry has a capacity to wash 13 tons of clothes an hour. After washing, the clothes will be ironed before handing them to the inmates. Bed sheets, pillow covers and blankets are also cleaned regularly.
The 50-bed hospital at the center is built on an area of 4,000 square meters, Al-Hamzi said.

Apart from the buildings that accommodate hospital workers, there is a shelter home covering an area of 440,000 square meters.

The center two separate isolation units for male and female inmates suffering from communicable diseases. Isolation unit for men covers an area of 15,000 square meters while women’s unit is spread over 8,500 square meters.

Okaz/Saudi Gazette visited the service center accompanied by Brig. Saad Tarahib Bin Ghanam, who said the center is well equipped to receive thousands of illegal residents expected to arrive there following the general amnesty.

There is a lounge at the center where illegal residents whose papers are processed and are about to be deported can wait until they board the buses taking them to King Abdulaziz International Airport, Ghanam said.

He spoke about the humanitarian services offered by the center to the inmates. “We record all information about the inmates in a computer system while their personal belongings are kept in a cloakroom,” he explained.

Security authorities will record the inmates’ biometrics and personal information before deporting them.

The detainees are held in separate groups based on nationalities in order to avoid cultural conflicts. There four wings for male inmates, two for females and one for juveniles.

All Arab nationals are detained in one center, Asians in another Africans in a third. Inmates who are likely to create problems for others are held separately.

The inmates undergo medical tests before they are admitted to the center. “We provide the inmates with all their needs until they are deported,” Ghanam said.

“After recording their biometrics, the inmates are handed over to representatives of their respective consulates to issue travel documents for them,” Ghanam said.

All inmates are sent back to their respective countries at the Kingdom’s expense, he added.

April 07, 2017