Expats to be banned from working in Saudi shopping malls

Labour ministry announces new measure to boost employment of Saudi nationals

Saudi women leave a shopping mall in Riyadh. (AFP/Getty Images)

Saudi women leave a shopping mall in Riyadh. (AFP/Getty Images)

Foreigners will no longer be allowed to work in Saudi Arabia's numerous shopping malls, the labour ministry announced Thursday, in the latest measure to boost employment of Saudis.

The kingdom has intensified efforts to develop more jobs for its citizens under a wide-ranging drive that began last year to diversify the oil-dependent economy.

Known as Vision 2030, the plan calls for development of non-oil industries, small and medium enterprises, and a broader investment base.

"The Minister of Labour and Social Development issues a decision restricting the work in malls across the kingdom to only Saudi men and women," the ministry said on Twitter.

There were no further details on how or when the plan would be implemented. It is the latest step aimed at boosting local employment in a country where expatriates do everything from cleaning the streets, to waiting on tables and providing management expertise.

About nine million foreigners worked in the kingdom at the end of 2015, according to latest official figures.

Saudis have traditionally preferred jobs in the public sector, where hours are shorter and leave is longer, but the government is trying to cut its payroll.

It has for years offered incentives for companies to employ more Saudis and sanctioned those which did not meet targets.

Under new measures, the monthly fees paid by those who hire more foreign workers than Saudis will be increased, and in July the government plans to impose a levy on foreign workers with dependents, according to a government document seen by Bloomberg News.

In the third quarter of last year the unemployment rate for Saudi females was 34.5 percent, compared with 5.7 percent for Saudi males, figures cited by the firm Jadwa Investment showed.

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Please post responsibly. Commenter Rules

Posted by: Juan

We have Saudis both male and female working the tills in supermarkets here in Riyadh - well we did at lunchtime when I popped out to get some tooth paste and was served by a young Saudi lady.

Posted by: Ahmed Ali

No way will you see a Saudi working in a mall.

Posted by: Fentoni

From a purely practical point of view would there be a requirement for the KSA staff to speak both Arabic and English as is the common custom for nearly all sales staff I've encountered in the rest of the GCC?

Posted by: vincent

In the third quarter of last year the unemployment rate for Saudi females was 34.5 percent, compared with 5.7 percent for Saudi males, figures cited by the firm Jadwa Investment showed.

Does it mean the problem is access to jobs for female Saudi ... or foreigners.

Posted by: Nick James

In 2010/11, I worked for a company in Riyadh that employed 900 women working in assembly. The turnover of women employees was 47%. Main reason for turnover was their families not being happy with the women working.

Posted by: ahmed

Is this fake news? I can realistically see Saudis working in jobs behind the scenes, but in shop assistant positions or waiter/waitresses in restaurants, not so sure? It is has always been assumed that mall positions went to expats and that GCC nationals in general did not find these jobs appealing. I guess we can see how this goes and possibly can be adapted throughout other GCC countries. I would target clerical positions in companies and intern positions for returning college students as a start. These are positions that have been monopolised by mainly South Asians throughout the Gulf. Even Singapore did this years ago. South Asians should not be dreaming about a job after college in the Gulf, GCC students should be dreaming of a job after college in the Gulf.

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