By Massoud A. Derhally
Kingdom is trying to curb unemployment by enforcing labour laws and implementing a drive to hire nationals
Saudi Arabia extended the deadline for businesses in the
kingdom to hire nationals by two months to June 1, Al Riyadh newspaper
The extension, granted by Prince Khalid Bin Bandar Bin Abdul
Aziz, the governor of the capital Riyadh, applies to firms operating in the
gold, vegetable and used furniture markets as well as real estate and public
The kingdom is trying to curb unemployment by enforcing
labour laws and implementing a drive to hire nationals instead of expatriates.
Saudi Arabia, which has the largest economy in the Arab
world, hires about 1m foreign workers a year while about 1m Saudis receive
unemployment benefits through its Hafiz welfare programme that gives them about
SAR2,000 a month.
According to official figures from the Central Department of
Statistics, the kingdom has an unemployment rate of 12.2 percent among
citizens. However, the number is more than 30 percent among the youth,
depending on various sources.
The largest exporter of oil in the world, which has a
growing population approaching 30m hosts more than 9m foreign workers from
across the Arab world and Asia which send billions of dollars in remittances
The kingdom will begin deporting thousands of foreign
workers who work for employers other than their specified sponsors on their
Saudi Arabia which is spending more than US$500bn on its
infrastructure is earmarking a large portion of the funds for housing to meet
the growing demand for its growing population. The International Monetary Fund
estimates the kingdom's gross domestic product will expand 4.2 percent this
year down from about 6 percent in 2012.