DO YOU KNOW how to decipher the Arabic expiry date of your Iqama?
If you are in Saudi Arabia, this question may matter much to you.
Not an Arabic reader? Not a problem.
Today —hopefully by the end of this article— you would learn how to determine the expiration date of your Iqama.
Importance of an Iqama
As you may be aware, your Iqama — or your residence permit card in Saudi Arabia— is the most important document you must have in your possession whenever or wherever you are in Saudi Arabia.
Perhaps, you already have realized that this piece of 8.5 cm. x 5.5 cm. plastic card is even more important than your cell phone or ATM card or even your money in your wallet combined.
If you have experienced an Iqama check in a random Saudi police search, you’ll understand what I mean.
But carrying an expired Iqama poses the same problem as that of not carrying one.
All your company or government records are linked to your Iqama. Your bank account. Your driver’s licence. Your passport. Your employment contract.
Being aware of your Iqama’s expiry date: A good practice
It behooves therefore every OFW or resident in Saudi Arabia to have a valid Iqama, one that is up-to-date or unexpired.
It is a good practice and part of your responsibility to alert your company when the expiry date of your Iqama is approaching. This will help your company arrange for the renewal of your Iqama as soon as practicable.
Ways to know the expiry date of your Iqama
Normally, to know the expiration date of your Iqama, you ask your company’s Administration and Human Resources Department. Another way is to approach a friend or a colleague at work who knows how to read Arabic and the Islamic calendar.
Today, you will be introduced to a third option: unraveling the expiry date of your Iqama — by yourself.
Overview of the easy tasks ahead
A daunting task? Not at all. Yes, even if you do not know Arabic yet.
It’s just easy, believe me. Let me give you a general overview.
First, you will need to know where exactly in your Iqama card you can find the expiry date.
Second, you will have to translate this expiry date from Arabic numbers to English numbers.
Third, you will have to convert the expiry date from Hijri or Islamic date into Gregorian date.
(Just a side note before we proceed: “Arabic numerals” is an ambiguous or confusing term. Strictly speaking, “Arabic numerals” or “Western Arabic/European numerals” refers to numbers as we understand them in English (i.e., 0, 1, 2, 3, etc.). On the other hand, “Eastern Arabic numerals” refers to numbers written, so to say, in Arabic script which most of us are not familiar with. For purposes of this article and to simplify the matter, I will refer to the “Eastern Arabic numerals” as “Arabic numbers” and to the “Western Arabic/European numerals” simply as “English numbers”.)
Having said that, let’s begin.
Finding the expiry date in your Iqama
Please take a look again at the image of the sample Iqama:
Focus on that part of the Iqama card encircled in red. The red mark is on the seventh line from the top of the Iqama. Inside the red oval marking is the expiry date of the Iqama.
Get your Iqama, please. Try to locate in your own Iqama the same spot encircled in the sample above.
Found it? Good! Take a deep breath. You’re doing fine.
Now, the next step may be optional. But it will help you get a feel of the skill we are trying to learn right now.
Drawing the Arabic date on a piece of paper
Get a piece of paper and try to copy the expiry date. You will need this in the next step.
I know, I know . . . you don’t know Arabic writing. But just try to imitate the form of the numbers and draw (not write) them as best as you could. Smile.
So, you should have drawn something similar to the image below.
Alternatively, you may forego writing the Arabic date. Just refer directly to the expiry date in the Iqama, as we proceed.
Right. Let’s move on.
Understanding the sequence of the Arabic date in the Iqama
Let’s understand how the year, the month, and the day are presented in sequence in the above sample of Arabic date.
Please take a look again at the green “Arabic date” image above. You will note that the Arabic date is arranged —from left to right— as follows:
Year / Month / Day
In the aforementioned sample date above, the date is written with the year first (4-digit), followed by the month (2-digit), and then the day (2-digit). The year and the month is separated by a forward slash ( / ). Also, the month and the day is separated by another forward slash ( / ).
For a better appreciation of this part, you may refer to the image below:
So far so good? Kwais!
Translating the Arabic numbers of the expiry date into English numbers
Then, we go on to analyze the expiry date of your Iqama by breaking it down to year, month and day.
For a moment, please take a look at the table below and try to understand the relationship between the two types of numbers.
Still feeling comfortable? Let’s now translate the Arabic numbers of the Arabic expiry date into its equivalent English numbers.
So the expiry date of the sample Iqama, as translated, would be: 1434 / 01 / 14
Simply, this means that the sample Iqama is expriring on the 14th day of the 1st month of the 1434th year of the Hijri (Islamic) calendar.
Now, try to do the same thing with the expiry date of your Iqama.
Don’t worry, take your time, please.
Done? That’s pretty quick, huh!
Converting the Islamic date into Gregorian date
Your next objective is to know what date in the Gregorian calendar this Arabic date “1434/01/14″ corresponds to.
You will have to go online for this.
There are lot of resources online for Islamic date conversion. For our present purposes, let’s go and click the link: http://www.islamicfinder.org/dateConversion.php.
When clicked, the link will bring you to a web page similar to the one below. You will find at the center of the web page, the “Gregorian to Hijri Dates Converter” tool.
Take a closer look at the web page. No worries, we are almost finished.
You will just need to change the default button from “Gregorian to Hijri” to “Hijri to Gregorian”. In the image above, I have already set the button to “Hijri to Gregorian”.
You will have to change the button setting because you have to change the Hijri (Islamic) date to Gregorian date, right?
Then, let’s proceed with the following three steps:
First, please type the year inside the box opposite “Year”. In the sample Iqama above, it should be “1434”. Your Iqama may have different expiry year.
Second, as for the “Day”: select the appropriate number of “Day” in the drop-down menu opposite “Day”. In our example, it should be “14”.
Third, concerning the “Month”: click the the drop-down menu opposite “Month” and select the appropriate Islamic month as represented by the month’s number in the expiry date of the Iqama. Please note that the Islamic calendar has also 12 months in a year.
For example: In the drop-down menu list, Muharram is the first month and Dhul-Hijjah is the 12th month.
So, in the example Iqama above, “01″ means “Muharam”. Muharram, therefore, is selected because it is the first in the list of months enumerated in the drop-down menu.
Reviewing your data
This is a crucial part. Try to make sure you have entered the correct data in the date conversion tool online. Any mistake will generate a resultant “expiry date” which may not be faithful to the expirty date in the Iqama.
Double check your data: the year, the month, the day. And when you are ready, click the button, “Convert.”
Presto! You should see in your screen a page similar to the one below. Take note of the portion encircled in red.
Hence, with reference to our example Iqama, the expiry date is: Wednesday, November 28, 2012.
It’s your turn: You can do it.
Now, it’s your turn to complete your task with regard to your own Iqama. To make sure you get a correct result, try to do the process twice, at least. You should generate the same “expiry date” in your two attempts. Good luck!
I am confident you’ll be able to do this alone. However, should you find difficulty along the way, just drop me a message in the Leave a Comment box below.
Deciphering your Iqama’s expiry date: A summary of steps
In summary, to decipher the Arabic expiry date of an Iqama: locate the expiry date in the Iqama, translate it into English numbers using the table of numbers provided herewith, and convert the Islamic (Hijri) date into Gregorian date using an online date conversion tool.
So, when will your Iqama expire? And how was your experience dissecting the expiry date of your Iqama? Tell us your story by leaving your reply in the Leave a Comment box below.
Thanks for reading.
Live the best of OFW life and times!
P.S. If you wish to share any tips or insights that you think may help OFWs and their families, please send them to OFW Times (www.ofwtimes.com), for consideration. You may also write and send OFW community news, vacation stories, personal opinions, OFW events announcements or any write-ups relating to Overseas Filipinos. Maaari ninyo pong isulat ang inyong artikulo o kontribusyon sa English o Filipino.
Nar Dichoso is your OFW webservant at www.ofwtimes.com — a blog site about OFWs, for OFWs, and by OFWs. OFW Times is a site for sharing the best of Overseas Filipino Workers (OFW) life and times — one blog post at a time. It is free to send your article, event announcements, opinions, vacation stories, work site stories, or any write-up relating to OFWs —in English or Filipino— to firstname.lastname@example.org for consideration for possible publication or posting at OFW Times.