We noticed you're blocking ads.

Keep supporting great journalism by turning off your ad blocker.

Questions about why you are seeing this? Contact us

Font Size

- Aa +

Thu 25 Mar 2010 08:50 AM

Font Size

- Aa +

Foreign bosses blamed for Saudis leaving jobs

'Huge' number of Saudis quit jobs in retail, driven by pressure from foreign bosses.

Foreign bosses blamed for Saudis leaving jobs
SAUDI SHOPPERS: 84 percent of Saudis leave their jobs in shops because of pressure from foreign bosses. (Getty Images)

The rate of Saudi Arabians leaving their jobs in the retail sector is “huge” and foreign bosses are a major factor, a leading official has said.

Abdul Aziz Al-Abdul Aziz, executive president of the Saudi Institute for Retail and Marketing, told the Saudi Gazette, some 84 percent of Saudis leave their jobs in shops because of pressure from foreign bosses.

He said other reasons were low salaries, a lack of well-defined job descriptions, poor financial incentives, and an unhealthy work environment. “The rate of Saudis abandoning their jobs in the retail sector is huge, and retail companies need to address the issue and investigate the reasons for it,” Al-Abdul Aziz was quoted as saying. He said Saudis should aim to stay in a job for longer periods because they would “climb the ladder until they reach the top of the pyramid. Then there will no longer be a foreigner above them in the hierarchy to put pressure on them.”

According to Ministry of Labour figures, 16 percent of the total number of people employed in the retail sector are Saudis.

Arabian Business: why we're going behind a paywall

For all the latest retail news from the UAE and Gulf countries, follow us on Twitter and Linkedin, like us on Facebook and subscribe to our YouTube page, which is updated daily.
Bindiboy 10 years ago

must be those awful bosses making them work 8 hours a day....how terrible for them...Nasty Foriegners!

Ali 10 years ago

Its their country so no foreign boss should have the right to dictate how long they will work. Have you seen a Saudi working in the USA and telling Americans to work? Its like someone coming to your home and telling you when to eat.

Ahmad 10 years ago

Yes, sure you have cases of workers with poor work ethic, but a fact of life remains that companies aren't trying very hard to nationalize blue collar jobs, as it's much more expensive for them. Having worked extensively on projects aimed at improving the situation in Saudi, I disagree with the viewpoint that dismisses the issue to poor or unqualified nationals. They do exist, but they're not the only reason. In addition, there is a push back from expats, but that's not against nationals alone, the same kind of work politics plays even against other nationalities, and I'm sure anyone that's worked in the region has experienced some of those office politics at play. The only difference is, nationals would expect a certain level of protection, which historically; they weren't getting.

harry dee 10 years ago

I am in fact a foreign boss in the Kingdom, and I ask the same from all staff - that they do a fair days work for a fair days pay. This is no more or less than any foreign boss will ask. If the Saudi workers leave because they find this 'too much pressure' then I don't think its a problem - there are plenty of migrant staff more than happy to fill their shoes. If anyone knows of a well-paid, responsible, interesting job WITHOUT pressure, let me know - I will apply immediately.

Telco guy 10 years ago

@Ali, care to explain what the "it is their country" reasoning has to do with managing the affairs of a company? And you would be amazed if you bothered to travel and see how in any countries foreign bosses are managing local employees... Not Saudi bosses likely as they do not seem to have a foreign-focuse career but yes I had British, Canadian, French, Spanish bosses in many different countries including the US... and some of the people reporting to them were locals and other were foreigners too. And to add to your amazement, nobody expected different treatment because of nationality.... I would like to think that your attitude is a minority one, but unfortunately in this region it is the prevalent one.

Ahmad 10 years ago

@ Telco Guy: I agree with you that Saudis shouldn't expect preferential treatment, i.e. different working hours etc, and most don't. I disagree that you're unlikely to see Saudis working internationally. I can name multiple cases in fortune 100 companies that are "international managers", I've worked with some in Saudi and abroad, and I am one. We have a work force of 4 million, largely absorbed in the public sector, and as such we don't have as many people to send out for international careers. All: There are multiple core causes why there is an issue with unemployment and high turnover in Saudi, I've worked on this for the better part of 18 months and I can tell anyone straight up that saying there are no qualified Saudis or they all have poor work ethic is simply false. It is true to a significant degree, but it doesn’t constitute the absolute majority or even the slight majority of cases. When we examined many of the cases of high turnover, we found some of the following causes: 1. Companies specifically asked the Saudi employees not come to work and for the company to treat them as "ghost employees", at 50% of the declared salary to GOSI. From the start, they were made feel unwanted! 2. In many cases, the companies hired national employees for political reasons and didn't real make an effort to integrate them into their workforce. There were no job descriptions, no on the job training or any training at all for that matter. The argument from the companies was that they expected the employees they hired to have specific experience and training. When we took the same criteria they dictated for their requirements of national employee candidates and compared it against their hires in the last 12 months, we found that 95% of the expats they hired did not meet even 50% of the criteria they asked of the Saudis. 3. The economic factor: And this applies the most to blue collar jobs. There are economic principles at play that make it feasible for workers from weaker economies to accept lower pay at nominal value, because the amount they transfer back home at PPP would make the whole package feasible for them (the expat workers). Saudi blue collar employees don't have that benefit, and the companies do not want to shoulder the higher cost of working with nationals, it's a simple economic fact, and there lies the biggest issue.

Observer 10 years ago

According to your logic Ali, there would hardly be much foreign investment and globalisation of businesses in this world. Who would put his money in a business he has no control of? Of course, Saudi has the option to choose to move together with the rest of the world or at its own pace.

Telco guy 10 years ago

@Ahmad, maybe the population is too small. I still have my doubts on this but that is not the main topic. I would rather focus on the points you raise: 1) Being asked to stay home... so companies are willing to pay for nothing. Clearly expectations are low and you have to wonder why. I certainly never saw this in Europe/US (well, some very, very few isolated cases, maybe 2-3 in al my life) 2) I am nto sure i understand your point, you are saying that requirements for foreign employees were lower than for local employees? That does not seem to fit well with the previous point. 3) True but only to certain point. PPP would apply to foreign imports, workers in KSA (or anywhere else) still need to buy food, pay rent and a myriad of other things at the local price. In the UAE we even pay higher than locals for a number of items (rent, DEWA). But even if we take this at face value what we are talking here is a symptom not a disease. Saudi workers expect a level of salary that is not proportional to their productivity. That in my book is the definition of an uncompetitive economy. You may try to fix this by regulation or you may try to adjust salaries to productivity. Given that raising productivity is a long term process that means you will need to reduce salaries either nominally or by devaluating your currency. I certainly can not think of more alternatives. You have the same problem as in my country, luckily you have more levers as you still keep your own currency.

shivaraman Ravi 10 years ago

Well i really do not understand what diffrence will it make if the Boss is a Diffrent nationality. I know so many companys have mixture of employes and they are all working well irrespective of the boss why only the saudi employes seem to focus on the bass issue. What i felt during my working in saudi is that the people who are lazy, unproductive, looking for reason not to work , who do not have any objective in life or no responsibelity are the ones who come with such reasons. Just imagine thousands of other nationals who come to saudi arabia and work under demanding conditions and put up with all the tough treatment they get at times , why do they do that just because they have responsibelity and commitment to their loved ones and they take all the suffering to give their loved ones a better life. I do not agree that Forgein boss makes any diffrence and it is never a reason for one to quit a job.

Ahmad 10 years ago

@ Teclo Guy: My point regarding the expectation from the nationals skills-wise is to say that the private sector was trying to place imaginary barriers. I'm a product of the private sector and I understand fully well the thinking. To me, it's simple. Political hiring + no effort to integrate into work force = improper screening + low productivity + high turnover. This is the formula that holds true, unfortunately. As for the many people claiming with certainty that (all) Saudi employees don't work hard, I'll be more than glad to give you examples of factories with thousands of blue collar Saudi workers putting in as much hard work, and sometimes harder; than their expatriate colleagues, working in a true meritocracy. I'm not saying that there's isn't an issue with a segment of job seekers that is lacking a serious attitude towards their work, there is. I'm saying that this is only ONE problem of many. The PPP holds true if the blue collar expat is single, as the portion of his income that is repatriated is worth more to his family. A Saudi who aspires to have a family or does have one, doesn't have that benefit. I've spent over 2 months constructing an economical model around mate, I hope you can trust me on that! :)