Saudi Arabia malls to hire only nationals

 21 Apr 2017 - 2:06


Riyadh: Foreigners will no longer be allowed to work in Saudi Arabia's numerous shopping malls, the Labour Ministry announced yesterday, in the latest measure to boost employment of Saudis.
The kingdom has intensified efforts to develop more jobs for its citizens under a wide-ranging drive that began last year to diversify the oil-dependent economy. Known as Vision 2030, the plan calls for development of non-oil industries, small and medium enterprises, and a broader investment base.
"The Minister of Labour and Social Development issues a decision restricting the work in malls across the kingdom to only Saudi men and women," the Ministry said on Twitter.
According to the Vision 2030 economic reform plan released last year, the Saudi retail sector currently employs 1.5 million workers, of whom only 300,000 are Saudis. The plan calls for a million new jobs for Saudis in the sector by 2020.
The decision is expected to generate about 35,000 jobs, and companies will be given sufficient time to deal with foreign labor contracts, Labor Ministry spokesman Khaled Aba Al Khail told the Al Arabiya news channel. There were no further details on how or when the plan would be implemented.
Under new measures, the monthly fees paid by those who hire more foreign workers than Saudis will be increased, and in July the government plans to impose a levy on foreign workers with dependents, according to a government document seen by Bloomberg News.
In the third quarter of last year the unemployment rate for Saudi females was 34.5 percent, compared with 5.7 percent for Saudi males, figures cited by the firm Jadwa Investment
About nine million foreigners worked in the kingdom at the end of 2015, according to latest official figures.