Saudi Arabia’s nationalisation program will not improve employment among citizens, the kingdom’s education minister has said in comments supported by the business community but likely to cause rebuke in the government.
“I would say that Saudisation and employment is not the solution,” Prince Faisal bin Abdullah said.
“The solution lies in creating job opportunities. How can we do that? By developing the economy and expanding areas of work for Saudis to become productive.”
The kingdom has implemented a three-tier nationalisation program that requires companies to employ a certain proportion of Saudis in a bid to reduce high unemployment levels.
Those that comply are given preferential treatment in applying for work permits, while non-complying businesses face fines and closure.
Foreign workers make up a significant proportion of the Saudi workforce, including in menial jobs such as housemaids, drivers and construction workers.
Private businesses complain Saudisation is unproductive and some Saudis are not skilled for or not willing to do the available jobs.
Riyadh Chamber of Commerce and Industry president Abdul Rahman Al Zamil backed Prince Faisal’s comments.
“I fully agree with Prince Faisal. We can create more jobs for our citizens by promoting huge investment projects and high-tech services and strictly implementing the kingdom’s regulations,” he told Arab News.
However, he also said Saudi Arabia “could not survive” without legislation enforcing the purchase of locally made goods, which he said would boost national industries.For all the latest business news from the UAE and Gulf countries, follow us on Twitter and Linkedin, like us on Facebook and subscribe to our YouTube page, which is updated daily.
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