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Mon 27 Jan 2014 01:31 PM

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Saudi postpones seven-year limit on expat terms

Authorities had hoped to discourage long-term expats to boost employment among Saudis

Saudi postpones seven-year limit on expat terms
(Getty Images - Photo for illustrative purpose only)

Officials in Saudi Arabia have postponed the implementation of a draft proposal that would restrict the stay of foreign workers and discourage them from bringing their families to the Gulf country.

The plan was announced at the start of this month, with the Labour Ministry seeking public opinion on labour policies, in particular its controversial Saudisation programme.

The proposal included a points system designed to discourage foreign workers from taking their family to the kingdom as well as make it less appealing for employers.

However, a spokesman for the Labour Ministry announced that the idea had been put on hold. We have postponed the implementation of this draft decision and other draft resolutions in order to conduct further studies on them in coordination with businesses and the Council of Saudi Chambers,” Ahmed Al-Humaidan, deputy minister for labour policies, told Arab News.

The paper quoted senior Arab businessmen as saying that they wanted the plan scrapped altogether, claiming it would lead to an increase in prices of goods and services.

The kingdom wants to reduce unemployment of Saudis, around 12 percent, by forcing out some expatriates.

More than 1m left the country under a seven-month amnesty on illegal workers last year.

About 8m are estimated to still be in the country, many of whom have lived in Saudi Arabia all of their life.

A recent report found expats spend an average of 6.9 years in the kingdom, while unskilled workers stayed an average of 7.7 years.

ZKhan 5 years ago

Why can't new job opportunities for Saudi's be created by having more factories and industries developed, instead of squeezing out the expats. Let the new unexperienced Saudi's learn from the experienced expats before replacing them.