Saudi Arabia is set to deport at least 16 Chinese workers following a strike and civil disruption over pay and conditions. The workers are employees of China Railway Construction Corporation (CRCC) and were in Saudi Arabia working on the 'Holy Sites' light railway project in Mecca.

Last week saw some 100 Chinese workers walk off the scheme, demanding higher wages, better accommodation and improved working conditions. Saudi authorities arrested 16 of them during the protest when four cars belonging to CRCC were damaged. The arrested workers have since been fired and are expected to have to pay damages before being deported.

CRCC has reportedly handed a written pledge to Saudi authorities promising the incident will not be repeated.

The company is four months into the 18-month contract to build a SAR 5.5 billion (US$ 1.47 billion) 18 km light railway stopping at nine holy sites around the city of Mecca. The railway will have the capacity to transport 70000 passengers per hour and will reach top speeds of 70 km/h.

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