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Last Updated: Sunday, 30 May, 2004, 17:52 GMT 18:52 UK
Ex-pats predict exodus in Khobar
Oasis villa (Courtesy of Oasis Resorts)
Gunmen struck at the Oasis compound housing company bosses
Foreign workers in Saudi Arabia are predicting an exodus among ex-patriates following the violence in Khobar.

The killing of people during the siege, including UK oil firm executive Michael Hamilton, is leading many ex-pats to reconsider their positions.

Briton Paul Raven, 50, an operations manager, said: ""Many ex-pats here are going to leave now."

And a Canadian student in Khobar said: "A lot of families are packing up and heading out. People are pretty scared."

'Prime targets'

Another UK national, who did not want his details disclosed, told BBC News Online: "People are bound to head for home after this episode.

People find what's happened does not seem real... I don't feel safe now
Ashish Fernandez

"After the attacks in Riyadh and Yanbu, I think most of us were just waiting for something like this to happen - most of the western ex-pats and the big oil service companies and contractors are based in the Eastern Province."

The 59-year-old father-of-two added: "I think the Americans are more worried as obviously they recognise they are the prime targets.

"Some of the US oil companies have been forcibly repatriating their workers and it has caused trouble as many don't want to leave.

"There's no doubt they see the Middle Eastern situation in a different perspective after a few months here."

"The most commonly expressed view from ex-pats and locals alike is that unless and until America gets directly and honestly involved in the Palestinian peace process, things will only get worse."

'People leaving'

Canadian student Ashish Fernandez, 18, lives close to the Oasis compound where the gunmen's attack took place.

He said: "Some people find what's happened just does not seem real.

"A lot of people are relieved that it's over, me included, but they are leaving.

"I usually go out with my friends every night, but I don't feel safe now."

Ashish's mother, who did not want to be named, said her family intended to remain in Saudi Arabia for two more years.

"We have to live normally," she added. "We hope the security situation will get back to normal."

Security tightened

British ex-pat Paul Raven said: "I was considering leaving, but I am responsible for 160-odd staff and I have to take their reactions into account as well.

"Security has been tightened up a lot and most of us will not leave our compounds now unless we have to.

"People are recovering their nerves - things have calmed down a lot.

"Many people are returning to work and there is a feeling of people wanting to get back to some form of normality.

"We will now be extra careful about security - varying our routes and the times we travel to work, and checking our cars over before using them."

The BBC's Paul Wood
"It seems the gunmen were disguised as members of the security forces"

Eyewitness reports from Saudi city
29 May 04 |  Middle East
In pictures: Khobar gun attack
29 May 04 |  In Pictures
Timeline: Saudi attacks
29 May 04 |  Middle East
Saudi Arabia's 'war on terror'
29 May 04 |  Middle East
German shot dead in Saudi capital
22 May 04 |  Middle East
Concern grows over Saudi stability
13 May 04 |  Middle East

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