Expat traders call it quits, leave Saudi tasattur partners in a legal quandary

Shop owners in Madinah file lawsuits against Saudis seeking unpaid rents

Shops abandoned by expatriate traders after the Ministry of Commerce and Investment intensified inspections remain closed in the central area of Madinah.

Saudi Gazette report

Owners of commercial buildings in the central area of Madinah have filed lawsuits against a number of Saudis who refused to pay shop rents after the departure of expatriates who were running those shops under "tasattur" arrangements, the Makkah daily reported on Sunday quoting industry sources.

The sources said as many as 50 lawsuits were filed in courts against Saudis who rented the shops in their names but refused to pay the rents after the departure of expatriates who ran the businesses as the Ministry of Commerce and Investment intensified inspections against tasattur businesses.

The Saudis gave the shops they rented to expatriates to run businesses on their own against fixed payment of about 10 percent of the profits.

The expatriates abandoned the businesses after the Ministry of Commerce and Investment has threatened those running tasattur operations with harsh punishments including two years in prison, a fine of not less than SR1 million and subsequent deportation.

The lawsuits against the Saudis also sought payments against stocks that the expatriates took away without paying the suppliers.

Abdulaziz Bin Ahmed, a Saudi citizen, said they are now forced to pay the delayed rents and the price of the stocks of commodities purchased by the expatriates without paying for them.

A Saudi, who had a tasaatur business with an expatriate, declined to give his name but said he was asked to pay SR350,000 in delayed rents.

"I agreed with an expatriate to run the shops that I had rented against 10 percent of the profits. The expatriate left the Kingdom without paying the rent or informing me about his departure," he said.

Another citizen who did not want to be identified said nobody told him that the expatriate worker running the shop should be under his sponsorship.

"I made all the arrangements concerning the opening of the shop to give to the expatriate who departed suddenly without paying the rent," he said.

The director of a market in the central area said they were not concerned whether the expatriates were under the sponsorship of the citizen who rented the shop or not.

"When the expatriates departed and the shops were closed, we had to ask for our rights from the Saudis who had rented them from us," he said.