By Gavin Gibbon
Report from Jadwa Investment Company revealed 300,000 expats have left kingdom already this year
Around 1.2 million expat workers are expected to leave Saudi Arabia this year, according to the latest figures released by Jadwa Investment Company.
The report also revealed that, based on health insurance data, an estimated 300,000 expats have left the kingdom so far in 2020 – between April 22 and June 3 alone, a total of 178,000 applications were made to ‘Awdah’, which aims to facilitate the departure of expat workers to their home countries, and subsequently filed through the Ministry of Interior.
According to the report, 445,000 foreign workers left the Saudi labour market in 2019.
Sectors struggling the most include transport, wholesale and retail, hotels and restaurants, and non-oil manufacturing, in addition to entertainment & leisure; while education, health, public administration, utilities and agriculture are also facing “challenging conditions”.
However, despite the potential exodus, it said the Saudi unemployment rate is expected to remain unchanged at around 12 percent by the end of the year, largely as a result of the Saned scheme – an unemployment benefit programme launched in 2014 which bears 60 percent of most of the private sector Saudi workers’ salaries for three months.
Latest data from the General Organisation of Social Insurance (GOSI) shows there were 450,000 Saned beneficiaries by May in more than 90,000 companies. So far, around SR2.4 billion ($640m) has been handed out, around 37 percent of the scheme’s budget.
The report said: “Thus, we see further scope for the Saned scheme to be extended for more than three months, if necessary. For example, a similar furlough scheme has been extended in the UK for an additional four months, until October 2020, even as the economy progressively opens up.”