Layoffs by Saudi firm owned by bin Laden’s father spark massive protests

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The termination of 50,000 workers for the Saudi Binladin Group (SBG) sparked a wave of protests that included the torching several buses in Mecca.

The job cuts were mostly foreign workers who were given permanent exit visas to leave Saudi Arabia, the Saudi-based newspaper al-Watan reported.

Laid off SBG workers torched several buses in Mecca.
Laid off SBG workers torched several buses in Mecca.

SBG, a massive construction company, was founded in 1931 by the father of Al Qaida leader Osama bin Laden. Reports say the company is in $30 billion worth of debt due to falling oil prices.

Some of the sacked workers refused to leave the kingdom, claiming the company had not paid them for months. Many of the terminated workers launched a massive protest that included the burning of seven buses in Mecca, the al-Watan report said.

The most recent layoffs are on top of the 15,000 SBG workers who were let go last year after the company’s contracts were frozen when a crane collapsed at Mecca’s Grand Mosque, killing more than 100 people.

SBG officials told Bloomberg News that the laid off workers received “full compensation” and described the job cuts as “normal routine” when projects are completed or near completion.

The Binladin Group is the main contractor for the Kingdom Tower, the $1.23 billion project that seeks to construct the world’s tallest building.

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