Thousands of Yemeni workers have been expelled from Saudi Arabia after it imposed new labour constraints affecting millions of expatriates in the oil-rich kingdom, an official said on Tuesday.
The new regulations introduced by the Saudi labour ministry aim to reduce the number of foreign workers to create jobs for millions of unemployed Saudis.
"Thousands of Yemenis had to leave Saudi Arabia. They were victims of an arbitrary application of the new regulations," a Yemeni government official told AFP.
He said workers saw their residency permits torn into pieces by Saudi government representatives.
Under the new rules, foreigners are allowed to work only for their legal sponsors in the kingdom while their spouses cannot take up jobs.
Many foreigners enter Saudi Arabia on the sponsorship of a Saudi national but end up working for others, or set up their own businesses.
Around one million Yemenis live in neighbouring Saudi Arabia, transferring around $4 billion annually to their impoverished nation, according to non-official estimates.
Their return from Saudi Arabia "could harm stability in Yemen" warned Yemeni laureate of Nobel prize for winner Tawakkol Karman in a written statement to AFP.
She urged Saudi Arabia to open up again to Yemenis by removing restrictions on movement between the two countries imposed in 1990 as a punishment to Yemen which sides with Iraq following its invasion of Kuwait.
Sanaa formed a ministerial commission last week tasked with working with Saudi authorities to soften the impact of the new rules, the official said.
Yemen already faces an economic crisis exacerbated by political instability and poor security.