Sunday, October 16, 2005

Getting my Iqama

Frighteningly Ludicrous in KSAFrighteningly Ludicrous in KSA
It took about three or four months for Bongo to get my residence visa (Iqama) sorted out. Apparently there was some kind of quota system for various nationalities and professions. So a company might be allocated visas for five Indian civil engineers, two Egyptian structural engineers and so on. Bongo had not been allocated a visa for one British interior designer, and so eventually he had to go and see Prince Nayef to get the visa authorised. At least, that was what Bongo told me, and he expected me to be seriously grateful.

So finally I had the little green book and was able to open a bank account and, well, open a bank account. I was also able to sponsor my family to come over on visit visas.

This proved to be a very frustrating exercise, once again involving diplomatic bags, wasted trips to London, and a whole lot of money. One day, BetterArf went to the Saudi Embassy in London to see if any progress had been made. They said they did not have her passport. She explained that she’d sent it two weeks ago, and could they please have a good look. The person at the desk explained that it was impossible that they’d had the thing for two weeks because otherwise the visa would have been stamped in it and it would have been mailed to her.

At which, BetterArf took the only course of action that a sensible person could under the circumstances and burst into tears. Offspring helped. The commotion attracted the attention of a senior-type bloke who came out of his office to see what was going on. He immediately took BetterArf and Offspring into a room that contained several piles of passports, found hers and stamped a visa in it.