[Representational image]Reuters

The Saudi Arabian government warned several Pakistani doctors to leave the country or be deported after it de-recognized medical degree programmes of Pakistan, according to reports. 

The Ministry of Health of Saudi Arabia stated on Wednesday that the medical programmes in Pakistan lacked "structural training", which is a mandatory criterion needed to hire professionals in high doctoral positions, reported the Dawn newspaper.

Other countries such as Qatar, the United Arab Emirates and Bahrain also followed Saudi Arabia and have de-recognised Pakistan's medical degree.

The newspaper reported that most of the affected doctors from Pakistan were hired by the Saudi Health Ministry in 2016 when it conducted interviews in Karachi, Lahore and Islamabad. 

A letter by the Saudi Commission for Health Specialties' (SCFHS) read: "Your application for professional qualification has been rejected. The reason is that your master degree from Pakistan is not acceptable according to the SCFHS regulations."

The medical programme offered by India, Egypt, Sudan, Bangladesh and other countries were acceptable, the Saudi officials said, while Pakistan's degree programme was rejected. The move has caused embarrassment for the affected doctors, a doctor told the Dawn.

Last month, Saudi Arabia announced its plan to ban the recruitment of foreigners in hospitality jobs in the country in an attempt to reserve jobs for Saudi nationals.

The country is pushing the "Saudisation" policy after unemployment rates increased to 13 percent last year. Foreigners dominate its private-sector jobs, having taken up all but few blue-collar and service jobs.