The Truth About Saudi Arabia Not Accepting Syrian Refugees


After it was revealed that Saudi Arabia has over 100,000 empty, air-conditioned tents that could house up to 3 million refugees, and that it has not taken any Syrian refugee despite being a rich Gulf nation, the country faced global condemnation. We too fell for the media lie.

After an official source in the Saudi Ministry of Foreign Affairs reacted strongly to the ‘false and misleading accusations’ and issued a statement saying that the country has received around 2.5 million Syrians since the start of the conflict in their country, we decided to investigate both the claims.

Media Claim: Saudi Arabia is accused of being inhuman for refusing to offer sanctuary to a single Syrian refugee. Amnesty International’s Head of Refugee and Migrants’ Rights, Sherif Elsayid-Ali, described the inaction of super-wealthy Gulf nations of Saudi Arabia, United Arab Emirates, Qatar, Kuwait and Bahrain as ‘shameful‘.

Saudi Claim: The Kingdom has received around 2.5 million Syrians since the beginning of the conflict in 2011. The Kingdom has adopted a policy not to treat the Syrians as refugees, or place them in refugee camps “in order to ensure their dignity and safety” (because terrorists could hide themselves among civilians). Over 100,000 Syrians have been given legal residency status with the rights to receive free medical care, to join the labor market and to attend schools and universities. According to government statistics, the public school system has accepted more than 100,000 Syrian students.

Our Findings: Saudi claims may be valid.

Media Claim: Saudi Arabia has been largely unresponsive to the crisis.

Saudi Claim: The Kingdom’s efforts were not limited to accepting Syrians after their crisis; it also extended its efforts to support and care for millions of Syrian refugees in neighboring countries such as Jordan, Lebanon and others. The aid provided by Saudi Arabia to the Syrian people totals around $700 million. Humanitarian aid provided to Syrians by the Kingdom consisted of food, medical, academic, residential supplies and included the establishment of Saudi specialized clinics in refugee camps, especially at Zaatari Camp in Jordan.

Our Findings: The Government of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, in association with the Office of United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), started the Saudi National Campaign to Support the Brothers in Syria in 2012 and established 57 relief programs and projects for the displaced Syrian people in Jordan, Lebanon and Turkey, as well as those displaced inside Syria, at a total cost of SR 428,860,814 ($114,362,884). Last week Saudi officials offered to build 200 new mosques in Germany to accommodate Muslim refugees.

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Media Claim: More than 100,000 empty air conditioned tents, which can accommodate over 3 million, have been discovered in the city of Mina, 2,150 miles from Syria. The tents are used only for 5 days in a year by Hajj pilgrims. The country is therefore finding excuses not to grant refuge to the Syrians. Saving people’s lives should be given priority over Hajj.

Saudi Claim: A former media aide to Prince Turki al Faisal, Jamal Khashoggi claims the reason is purely economic. At about 11% of GDP, or roughly $80 billion, the public-sector wage bill in Saudi Arabia is high by global standards and productivity has been falling or stagnating. Saudi economy, thus, cannot tolerate hosting refugees anymore who turn into residents.

Our Findings: According to the IMF, expatriate workers are currently about a quarter of Saudi Arabia’s population of some 30 million and about three-quarters of the private-sector workforce, of which 85% is deemed to be low-skilled. That may be the reason why the government wants to keep the tents empty rather than fill them with refugees that may put extra burden on their economy.


The bottom-line:

According to Amnesty International, Turkey, along with other Islamic countries – Lebanon, Jordan, Iraq and Egypt – hosts 97% of Syria’s refugees. Saudi Arabia claims to have exceeded its capacity to shelter refugees; however, since it annually receives millions of pilgrims in Mecca and has a lot of experience in expatriate management, there is no reason to discontinue using its experience in a more humane manner.

This Article (The Truth About Saudi Arabia Not Accepting Syrian Refugees [Investigative]) is free and open source. You have permission to republish this article under a Creative Commons license with attribution to the author and

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  1. Good to see some facts on this. It’s interesting that Saudi can say they’ve exceeded their capacity to shelter refugees but Euro countries like Germany, etc. are not allowed the same excuse.

  2. Even Saudi are quite stupid in Hajj management, and you expect them to host 2.5 million refugees?. See the Mina incident? They put a fuckin roadblock at the time of peak hours on Jumrah just for a Saudi Prince? Stupidity at its finest.

  3. Saudi officials are lying to their teeth. This 2.5 million Syrian refugees they claim is absolute rubbish so all their other claims of being humans. Is it humane bombarding Yemeni innocent people and destroying cities in Yemen? and, of course, spending millions on that aggressive campaign in which they will be terribly humiliated like Nasser’s 60’s campaign in Yemen. It’s time for all those rotten regimes in OIL rich Arab countries to GO together with that ANTIQUATED TRIBAL SYSTEM and be replaced with a humane modern competent administrations of those countries’ people.

    • Well said. I completely agree with you. This is a fabrication that they accepted 2.5 million or even 500.000 Syrians. First of all KSA has not signed the international Refugee convention so they are not obliged to taken in refugeed per say. Secondly these numbers only come forward the World start criticizing the Saudis for the not taking in Syrian refugees. So the timing is convenient and also in Human Rights organizations say the same. Saudis have not and will not take refugees. The Syrians they talk about were already present and are workers&residents but not refugees. Saudis believe they can just buy their way out of this too. So they are. I am astonihsed by ANONOYMOUS’ findings which go against NGOs and Human Rights organiization and not a single credible and independent source can verify the Saudi numbers. Food for thought. Thanks for speakking the truth!

  4. Well let the Saudis, UAE, Kuwait, Bahrain,etc. take them then. The US has enough immigrants already, 17 trillion dollars in debt, high minority unemployment, underpaid workers, homeless veterans, a lack of affordable housing and a ton of our own problems. Its time to focus on taking care of our own, not importing refugees the government cant even properly vet.

  5. Too many haters. I am a Saudi citizen and I encourge my government to save my interests wherever they are. My goverment first goal is to serve me, then help others. Unless you are a young Saudi citizen seeking jobs in a market filled with foreign workers, then do us a favour and shut your mouth, ok?

    • Yeah, well stop funding the terrorists who want Islam to rule the world then you arrogant pigs. The west hates Muslims and Hates Islam even more. All Muslims should only be allowed to live in Islamic countries and keep your vile demented ideology to yourselves, because it has no place in the modern world. Your false pedophile prophet was a Schizophrenic, Sociopathic Mass Murdering nomad who killed the very people who helped him out. Your ideology is nothing but an excuse to wage war on everyone not Muslim. We in the west will always reject Islam and fight to ensure you never rule the world with your filthy lies and medievil ways. The sooner Islam is dead the better this world will be.

      • I’m Saudi myself and I am disappointed that my country would set such priorities over taking in war refugees.. I thought we’d do anything for the Syrians. I personally wouldn’t mind losing some financial privilege for this cause. I wouldn’t be very well informed on political and economical matters but I do say what I humbly believe as truth. I also think a great deal of these decisions are egotistical and hypocritical as they claim compassion and altruism but act the exact opposite! Just like manmade religion; where the ultimate pursuits are world domination, power and control.

    • It is nice that your governments first goal is to serve you.But the goal of the governments in Europe must be to serve the refugees first.

  6. Whatever they claim cannot be proven because no one is allowed in to document or film what is really going on in saudi arabia. What they claim and what is the truth could be two totally different things. How does on prove such a thing?


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