Saudi official: ‘Hire Saudis rather than expats’

As part of a drive to encourage more Saudi Arabian nationals into the workforce, private sector employers in the kingdom are being told that they may recruit foreign manpower to fill a job vacancy “only if there are no qualified Saudis” to employ instead, a Saudi Gazette report quotes a government official there as saying.

Omar Milibari, deputy executive chairman of Saudi’s Human Resources Development Fund, said that a project designed to provide opportunities for nationals to get first shot at jobs is “currently being worked out and will soon be implemented,” the online Saudi news organisation reported on Tuesday.

Milibari made his comments on Sunday during a Human Resources Development Fund event, the article said.

Milibari told his audience that the fund, which has 126 branches around the kingdom, had helped to boost the employment of women, and noted that getting the female employment rate up to 24% by 2020 was one of the scheme’s goals.

The hire Saudi campaign comes as Saudi Arabia is struggling to deal with the impact of lower oil prices, which has seen crude plunge to around US$42 a barrel currently, from around US$115 a barrel in the summer of 2014.

Another strategy kingdom officials have been exploring has been to try to encourage foreign companies, such as those in the US, to invest in the country.

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