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Thu 17 Mar 2016 01:43 PM

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Mobile phone shops 'raided' in Saudisation clampdown

Saudi labour minister laments failure of Saudisation policies in some sectors of economy

Mobile phone shops 'raided' in Saudisation clampdown
A Saudi man displays mobile phones at his mobile shop in the Saudi Red Sea port of Jeddah. (Getty Images)

Saudi Arabian officials are conducting raids on mobile phone sales and maintenance shops ahead of a nationwide ban on foreigners working in the sector, according to local media.

Inspection teams from the Ministry of Labor are reportedly working with security forces to investigate whether illegal foreign workers are being employed in the sector, and impose punitive measures against any shop found to be violating the law.

The kingdom plans to ban foreign workers from selling and maintaining mobile phones and accessories as part of wider ‘Saudisation’ efforts to provide more jobs to Saudi citizens.

Stores selling mobile communications devices will have to ensure that at least 50 percent of staff doing such work are Saudi citizens in three months’ time; the requirement will rise 100 percent in six months’ time.

The main purpose of the inspection visits was to officially inform owners about the new policy, reported Saudi Gazette on Wednesday.

The newspaper said inspectors visited more than 900 shops in Makkah, Madinah, Asir and the Eastern Province.

In the northern Al Jouf region, 306 shops were raided and more than 165 shops were served warning notices. A total of 28 violations were discovered during the raids, it was said.

Abdulaziz Al Ruwaili, director-general of theAl Jouf branch of the Ministry of Labour, was quoted as saying: “The [ministry] is keen to take punitive measures against violators of the labor regulations in any sector.

“The security campaign will continue until June 6 (Ramadan 1), which is the deadline for 50 percent Saudization in the mobile phone sales and maintenance sector.”

Unemployment stood at 11.5 percent among citizens last year, according to official statistics, and the kingdom is under pressure to increase jobs for Saudi nationals.

However, Labour minister Mofrej Al Haqbani admitted on Tuesday that the ministry has failed to implement Saudisation in some sectors, in particular the fruit and vegetable market, luxury car and jewellry sectors.

“It is painful to see the poor outcome of the Saudization drive in some sectors,” he said, attributing this to lack of coordination and poor participation among some agencies.

Doug 3 years ago

Has the minister ever considered that one reason this may have failed is because the average Saudi citizen probably sees selling mobile phones and fruit & veg as a bit beneath them?