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Mon 9 May 2011 07:07 PM

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Saudi Arabia gets tougher on jobs for expats

Labour minister says private sector firms will be ranked according to number of locals they employ

Saudi Arabia gets tougher on jobs for expats
Saudi Arabia has announced new plans to intensify its Saudization jobs policy, making it more difficult for expats to find jobs. (Getty Images)

Saudi Arabia has announced new plans to intensify its Saudization jobs policy, ranking private companies according to how many locals its employs.

The new initiative, which is part of efforts to reduce the unemployment rate, sets out new standards to rate the performance of firms in the private sector.

Labour Minister Adel Fakieh said in comments published by Saudi daily Arab News on Monday that private companies would be classified into green, yellow and red categories.

“We have set out new standards to assess the employment of Saudis in private firms. We have differentiated between companies that have achieved high Saudization rates and those refusing to employ Saudis,” he said.

He said companies in the red category would be prevented from renewing work visas of their expatriate workers.

Companies in the green category would be allowed to select foreign workers in the other two categories and transfer their sponsorship without the approval of their employers, he added.

Fakieh said more details about the new Saudization plan  would be announced on June 11.

The new measures come after King Abdullah set up a high-level ministerial committee to find a quick way to employ the growing number of graduates in public and private sectors, the paper reported.

The king increased the minimum salary of Saudis to SR3,000 and ordered payment of a SR2,000 monthly allowance for the jobless.

Fakieh said that about six million of the country’s eight million expatriates work in the private sector.

“These expatriate workers cost the Kingdom SR98 billion annually in terms of transfer of salaries to accounts in their respective countries,” the minister said.

“They also put additional pressure on the country’s infrastructure and service sectors.”

Fakieh said there was a five percent annual rise in the number of expatriate workers, which is double the size of annual Saudi population increase.

“This increase of expatriates is causing imbalance in the job market and preventing Saudis to get jobs in private companies. Most companies prefer to employ expatriates as they are ready to accept low salaries,” he added.

Saudis working in private companies do not exceed more than 10 percent of the total workforce.

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Anas 9 years ago

“These expatriate workers cost the Kingdom SR98 billion annually in terms of transfer of salaries to accounts in their respective countries,” the minister said.

Someone should ask the respected minister how much revenue is generated due to these expat workers?

It would be more realistic if the Saudi government instead of spoon feeding their population prepare them to face the challenge by providing opportunities and incentives to promote a hard working local population, building up their skills and educating them to face the job market requirements. Then discouraging companies to hire expat workers where local talent is available. And the local owned companies should take the lead on it.

abdul hafeez sheikh 9 years ago

This is right of Saudi people to get jobs in their own country but they should take interest in their work . Only getting job and doing nothing will burden the private companies . There are many examples in which Saudi companies pay salaries to Ghost Saudi employees.One should learn lessons from UK USA and other western countries in which millions of Asians Africans and other people have contributed to their countries . president Obama would not have been there if USA would not have followed the policy of welcoming other nationalities .

Billy 9 years ago

This kind of approach will not work unless there is an equal amount of emphasis on making the local population employable across the whole range of positions that are currently occupied by expats. Saudi has a very big unemployment problem and there are simply not enough manager and director positions in the private sector to solve the issue. The Saudi Nationals will have to work as sales executives, junior accountants, network engineers, taxi drivers, receptionists, secretaries etc etc if unemployment is really going to be addressed. This is a common problem throughout the GCC where the nationals only want lucrative, managerial positions. It is an attitude issue that really needs addressing if the governments are to solve their unemployment issue.

james 9 years ago

the problem is two fold and its across most of the middle east first the disparity between salaries of locals and expats make it more attractive to recruit expats second the culture of work is very different locals wont do certain jobs especially in the service (shops) and construction as they see them as menial adress the issue pay everyone the same salary and benefits then you will get equality

SM 9 years ago

Those expatriate workers get paid for the services they render; services which locals are not capable of providing to their own country. Those expatriates also put a huge chunk of their earnings back into the Saudi economy. Wake up Mr. Minister; teach your people to work for a living and you wont need expatriate work force in your country.

gan 9 years ago

Good to let them stand in their own instead of depending on expats. Also they should work hard to know and develop the technical skills. Otherwise it will not work

Yahya Qamar 9 years ago

Saudi Government should realize the fact that they cant avoid the growing number of expats through Saudization policies. This could be achieved only by focusing on the quality of education in the kingdom.

Mathi 9 years ago

Really the local Arabs will not work properly as expats. Only after attending some school, they think they know everything.Outside world, they should communicate with English, which is very poor for them. Eventhough they talk, they cannot write properly for sending any messages for Purchasing & Marketing etc.and don't know to operate the Computers! First of all they should learn the punctuality and present at job in time, which they don't do. During Ramadhan, no Arabs are ready to work, even they are not very strict in Religious matters. Hiding places, along with expats, they will smoke,drink soft drinks in Offices during working time!
How the factory will run smoothly, if they are not working.So surely the services of Expats are required in their country. They cannot drive away all Expats. It is not possible in future also!

Mosab 9 years ago

It is too complicated as to why saudis dont work.

Take jeddah for example young people there are more than willing to do any kind of work but no one would emply them not because of their lack of skills but because most jobs that demands the man to be facing the puplic also demands him that he would face women.

Women do not go into shops that saudis work in not because of bad behavious or anything but because he is (saudi) and they should (cover themselves from him) while non-saudi people are ok to deal with.

Thats why you wont see saudis doing jobs in stores and stuff. its really the culture that needs addressing first

Ali Saleh 9 years ago

Top to bottom approach with a fancy color system is a quick fix. This is a long process that has to start with proper development, good family upbringing, good schools, decipline, ethics in the saudi family to develop the proper work force. The sense of superiority over others has to go. It will take time.