Saudis close off more sectors for ‘Saudisation’ in further blow to expats

In a further blow to expats living in Saudi Arabia, the “Saudisation” strategy that prevents foreigners working in the mobile telecom sector has been rolled out to five further sectors.

The new sectors that will only accept employment applications from Saudi nationals are tourism, health, malls, Al-Qassim markets and temporary stands, reports Saudi daily Okaz.

This follows the programme being applied to the mobile telecom sector in what was seen as a great success insofar as it led to the creation, or technically reallocation, of 8,000 jobs to Saudi nationals.

The target, for instance, in the tourism sector is for Saudi employees to reach 33,000 by the end of next year, said Khalid Aba Al Khail, a spokesperson for the labour ministry; currently, 60% of the workforce is Saudi.

He added that hospitals and health centres now employ 75,000 Saudi nationals and doctors and nurses, around 50% of the total number in the sector, with a target of 93,000 by the end of 2020 having been set.

Clampdowns hitting expats

The inclusion of malls as a sector closed off to expats is expected to create 6,000 jobs for Saudis, with initiatives for the retail sector and car-rental market expected to create 20,000 and 5,000 Saudi jobs respectively.

As reported by International Investment‘s Gary Robinson yesterday (“Saudi introduces severe penalties ruling for expat ‘violators‘”), this is the latest move in a number of clampdowns that are hitting the expat community in Saudi Arabia.

New luxury tourism resort

Meanwhile, a Saudi sovereign wealth fund has announced plans to turn a 125-mile (200km) of its Red Sea coastline into a luxury tourist resort “on a par with international standards”.

It’s part of the Kingdom’s plan to reduce its dependence on oil as a driver for the economy, and will see an area larger than Belgium (some 50 islands and more than 13,000 square miles) being redeveloped.

The aim is to attract “luxury travellers from around the globe,” according to an official statement sent to Bloomberg yesterday, and seeks to transform a tourism industry that has hitherto consisted almost exclusively of Muslims from around the world undertaking the Haj, the pilgrimage to Mecca that all Muslims are expected to do at least once in their lifetime.



Eugene Costello
Eugene Costello has been a journalist for some 20 years, and has written for a wide variety of UK and international newspapers and magazines.

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