Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Egypt lifts ban on doctors working in Saudi

Dec. 3, 2008
CAIRO (AFP) — Egypt has lifted a ban imposed last month on its doctors taking up jobs in Saudi Arabia after two doctors were ordered jailed and flogged in the conservative kingdom, local media reported on Wednesday.

"Manpower and Immigration Minister Aisha Abdel Hadi announced the lifting of the ban on Egyptian doctors going to take up jobs in the private sector" in Saudi Arabia, the state-owned Al-Ahram daily reported.

Cairo said on November 13 that it would no longer allow doctors to travel to Saudi after two doctors were sentenced to between 15 and 20 years in prison and 1,500 lashes for allegedly turning a Saudi princess into a drug addict.

Egyptian doctors already in Saudi Arabia were allowed to continue working there because of contractual obligations.

An agreement has been reached between Egypt and the Saudi authorities "to guarantee all the rights of Egyptian workers," the paper said.

Doctors Rauf Amin and Shawki Abd-Rabbo were sentenced for giving the unidentified princess morphine to ease her pain following a riding accident, allegedly causing her addiction.

The penalty, which involves being whipped at the rate of around 70 lashes a week, has sparked protests in Egypt. Nearly a million Egyptians work in Saudi and many complain of suffering abuse there.

Hamdi al-Sayyad, director of Egypt's Doctors Syndicate, described the trials as unfair and the sentences as torture.

Flogging is a standard punishment in the ultra-conservative Gulf kingdom, which enforces a strict Islamic doctrine known as Wahhabism.

Amid public outcry in Egypt and a burgeoning diplomatic spat between regional heavyweights Egypt and Saudi, Cairo last month drew up a blacklist of Saudi companies accused of deliberately mistreating Egyptians.

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