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Thu 24 Mar 2016 03:36 PM

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Jail, $350k fines for Saudi phone shop violators

Ministry of Commerce and Industry issues further warnings against foreigners working in mobile phone industry

Jail, $350k fines for Saudi phone shop violators
A Yemeni vendor looks out as he waits for customers in a mobile shop at a mall in Dammam, Saudi Arabia March 17, 2016. (REUTERS/ZUHAIR AL-TRAIFI)

Saudi Arabia’s Ministry of Commerce and Industry warned on Wednesday that anybody flouting the new ban on foreigners working in the mobile phone industry faces a two-year jail sentence, SR1 million ($530,000) fine and deportation.

The kingdom is taking tough measures to enforce its new Saudisation policy related to the telecoms sector.

Under the rules announced earlier this year, stores selling mobile communications devices will have to ensure that at least 50 percent of staff doing such work is Saudi citizens in three months’ time; the requirement will rise to 100 percent in six months’ time.

It was reported earlier this year that officials are conducting raids on mobile phone sales and maintenance shops ahead of the nationwide ban, to investigate whether any illegal foreign workers are being employed in the sector.

The Ministry of Commerce and Industry on Wednesday claimed that the new policy would create 20,000 jobs for citizens, according to Arab News.

It has launched training courses to prepare Saudis to replace their expatriate counterparts in mobile phone customer service, maintenance and entrepreneurship, and additional support is to be provided to companies and job seekers.