A Saudi employer has murdered two Egyptian employees following an argument over work they were completing on his building site.
Adel Abdel-Imam Hussein and Izz Al-Din Muhammed Abdel-Shafi are both from the village of Al-Butha in Nag Hammadi, Upper Egypt.
The employer, who was also their sponsor, summoned the two men and then shot each of them from behind three times, according to news reports.
Social media commenters are demanding justice for the victims.
Saudi Arabia’s employment sponsorship, or kafala, is used to hire overseas workers, mainly in construction and domestic work, and means their employers have responsibility for them over the course of their stay.
Due to the extent of control it gives employers it has been likened to a modern form of slavery and widely criticised by rights groups.
There are reports that Saudi is set to abolish the kafala system.
The incident closely followed the release of a video of a Kuwaiti man slapping an Egyptian cashier in a supermarket in Kuwait, which went viral and subsequently drew widespread criticism about racism in the Gulf states towards foreign workers.
In both cases, the Egyptian authorities were quick to defend their Gulf allies.
“Such incidents are carried out by an individual and do not reflect the Saudi community,” said Egyptian Minister for Immigration, Nabila Makram Abdel-Shahid, on the Saudi shooting of the Egyptians, “which deals with the Egyptians as brothers and sisters with historical ties.”
She also warned against inciting against the kingdom.
A similar statement was released in response to the viral video of the Kuwaiti man slapping the Egyptian cashier.
Consul General of Egypt in Kuwait, Ambassador Hisham Asran, said that it was an individual incident which does not represent the strength of bilateral relations between the two countries or affect the stability of Egyptian workers in Kuwait.
Egypt’s President Abdel Fattah Al-Sisi has strengthened relations with the Gulf countries over the course of his rule.
Following the 2013 coup, the UAE, Saudi Arabia and Kuwait were quick to offer financial support to Egypt. Between July 2013 and August 2016, the three countries provided some $30 billion in aid to the Egyptian regime.
Egyptian expatriate workers in the Gulf are responsible for around $25 billion of annual remittances, however, this revenue has been affected by the coronavirus pandemic.