Buy your bribe online

"Visas for sale. Attractive prices". On Saudi classified advertising website 'mstaml', hundreds of ads blatantly advertise under the table deals and bureaucratic bribery. Jobs, visas, marriage loans, diplomas... virtually anything can be bought and paid for. Our Observer tells us why.


Published on the website "mstaml".

"Looking for well-connected person ready to accept a bribe for a job in telecommunications. Serious applicants only". In Saudi Arabia, this type of online classified ad is nothing out of the ordinary – it’s just another way to find a job.

The Saudi classified ad website "mstaml" (usager) is one of the most popular in the country, with up to 570,000 daily visitors. At first sight, it’s the Arabic version of any mainstream classified ad site, with postings for real estate, cars, jobs, electrical appliances and the like… On closer inspection, however, the site is peppered with hundreds of ads blatantly advertising all types of corruption, whether it be to obtain a job, a visa or government funding of some kind. According to our Observer, the practice is so common it is almost official.

"Looking for a work certificate for the period going from July 2003 to July 2008 in a large company. Name your price, as long as you get it for me" 

Published on the website "mstaml". 

"You can buy anything in Saudi Arabia: a connection, a work visa and even a university diploma"

Mohammad al-Saeedi lives in Qatif, in eastern Saudi Arabia. He was formerly employed as a journalist and is currently looking for work.

You can buy anything in Saudi Arabia as long as you have the money: connections, visas for foreign workers and even university diplomas. Lots of recruitment agencies serve as a front for the illegal visa market between the Work Ministry and employers of migrant workers. They sell the visas for a fortune to companies that have trouble getting visas for their employees the normal way.

"Visas for sale. Attractive prices."

Visa for Syrian citizen and visa for Jordanian citizen… two visas for Filipinos. Will sell to highest bidder or trade for a Yemenite visa. Serious candidates only. Call 05xxxxxxxx " Published on the website "mstaml".  

The University diploma market is also flourishing. You can find American, European or Egyptian masters and PhD degrees for 20,000 riyals (3,560 euros). A Saudi high school diploma only costs 5,000 riyals (890 euros). That’s why Kuwait today no longer recognises the Saudi high school diploma.

"Looking for insider help to obtain a marriage loan" 

Looking for a connection to help me obtain a marriage loan even though I’m single. Will pay 2,000 riyals… 4,000 if I get the loan". Published on the website "mstaml".

Resorting to bribes or insider help to get around Saudi bureaucracy is just part of our daily routine. For example, evacuating a sick person to a specialised hospital or abroad can take weeks if the patient doesn’t have the right connections. Similarly, obtaining a marriage loan can take more than a year if no bribes are paid, instead of the usual two weeks.

"Looking for connection in Education ministry to obtain a study abroad scholarship"

"Looking for insider help to obtain a study abroad scholarship from the Education Ministry for a student who is past the required age. Thank you." Published on the website "mstaml".

Civil servants are used to being paid to do their work. Even dustmen expect it: they won’t pick up the trash in front of your house unless you slip them a coin or two. The reason behind this widespread corruption is simple: salaries have not been re-evaluated since the 1980s!".

"Visa for a Filipino driver" 

"I need to obtain a visa for a Filipino driver but I'm not allowed. Could someone help me get around the law?" Published on the site "mstaml".