If you fall foul of the law while in the region, you must notify your embassy or consulate as soon as possible. If you’re held by the police, a representative of the embassy or consulate will visit you and liaise with your relatives, although he will be unable to provide or pay for legal advice or assistance and you shouldn’t expect to be ‘bailed out’, as your individual plight might be considered of little importance. Note also that embassies and consulates won’t intervene in any dispute between an employee and his employer.
In the event of a serious accident or illness, the embassy or consulate will contact your doctor in your home country and help to arrange repatriation if necessary, although again it won’t pay for this or other medical assistance, except perhaps in extreme circumstances; even then, you will be asked for security against the ‘loan’ and will have to pay a stiff surcharge in addition to repaying the loan itself. In extreme situations (such as that which arose in Kuwait when it was invaded by Iraq), the embassy or consulate might be called upon to evacuate its citizens. (When Turkey invaded Cyprus, however, the British embassy infamously had a ‘Closed’ sign on its door!)
This article is an extract from Living and Working in Gulf States & Saudi Arabia. Click here to get a copy now.