The annual recruitment of nearly 1.2 million foreign workers has hampered the Kingdom’s nationalization initiatives, said Saudi economists and experts, while urging the government to review its recruitment policy.
“We recruit about 1.2 million foreign workers annually at a time when we have more than a million Saudi job seekers,” said economist Abdullah Al-Maghlouth. “It is a big challenge for the government to find jobs for more than a million unemployed Saudis,” he added.
Saudis account for only 15 percent of jobs in the private sector, with expats taking the lion’s share of 7.5 million while citizens holding 1.4 million jobs.
The Labor Ministry claims that it has created jobs for 750,000 Saudis during the past three years through the Nitaqat nationalization program.
“A foreigner may be ready to work for 12 hours daily for low salary and Saudis would not be able to compete with them. This is the main reason for private companies hiring expats,” Al-Maghlouth said. He added that Saudi Arabia has been spending billions of riyals every year on manpower development through education and training. “Still, we don’t see results from this investment.”