New Delhi: Saudi Arabia has restricted expatriates, including Indians, from working in 12 sectors.
This was done to pressure companies into hiring more Saudi citizens and to reduce unemployment in the Islamic kingdom, report agencies.
Labour Minister Ali bin Nasser al-Ghafis has approved the tighter policy.
About 12 million foreigners work in Saudi Arabia, doing many strenuous, dangerous and lower-paid jobs shunned by 20 million Saudi citizens.
The new rule could potentially affect large numbers of these people.
The restriction is also likely to affect over 3 million Indians who live and work in Saudi Arabia.
The Labor Ministry and Social Development department will impose these restrictions in 12 sectors in a phased manner.
The restriction will begin in the following sectors from September 11, 2018:
– Car and motorbike showrooms
– Readymade clothes stores
– Home and office furniture stores
– Home appliances and kitchen utensils stores
The following sectors will start hiring only the locals from November 9, 2018
– Electronics stores
– Watches and clocks stores
– Optics stores
The following sectors will be restricted for hiring of expatriates from January 7, 2019
– Medical equipment and supplies stores
– Building material stores
– Auto spare parts stores
– Carpet selling stores
– Sweet shops
The jobless rate among Saudis aged 15 to 24 stood at 32.6 percent last year, according to the International Labour Organisation. Saudi Arabia posted an economic contraction in 2017 for the first time in eight years due to severe austerity measures.
The new rule is a part of the ongoing economic reforms launched last year to ease joblessness among Saudis by 2020. Saudi Arabia is India’s fourth largest trade partner after China, the US and the UAE.
The country is a major source of India’s energy requirement as it accounts for almost one-fifth of India’s crude oil requirement.
At least 42 percent of 10.4 million expatriates working Saudi Arabia are in both public and private sectors. Nearly 86 percent of foreign workers there draw a monthly salary of less than 2,000 Saudi riyals (US$533), according to a study conducted by International Al-Jazeera Academy and Saudi Department of Statistics and Information.
Saudi Arabia is on 3rd rank for having largest population of foreigners. The United States tops with 45.8 million expatriates, followed by Russia with 11 million foreigners. The fourth place goes to Germany with 9.8 million foreign workers and the United Arab Emirates with 7.8 million.