Saudi ministries have been given three years to part company – either by sacking or voluntary means – with all of their expatriate workers, according to local media reports.
In the latest clampdown against expats living and working in the kingdom, government positions will increasingly be filled by Saudis, as well as jobs in what is envisioned as a massively reduced public sector, news outlet Albawaba reported.
Heads of government departments were reportedly told by the ministry of civil service this week that only Saudi nationals would be able to work in public sector jobs by the end of 2020.
The move comes as part of Saudi Arabia’s national transformation program for 2020, and a diversification plan known as Vision 2030, which aims to give Saudi nationals first pick of all state jobs on offer in the kingdom, as the country looks to reduce its economic dependence on oil revenues, which have been reduced in recent years owing to a sharp decline in the oil price.
‘No expat government workers by 2020’
“There will be no expatriate workers in the government after 2020,” Abdullah al-Melfi, deputy minister for civil service, was quoted as telling ministry officials during a meeting.
“The complete nationalisation of government jobs is an important objective of the national transformation program 2020 and the Saudi Vision 2030,” Melfi told The Saudi Gazette.
The Saudi government believes the job cuts will reduce capital outflows and create new positions for the estimated 700,000 Saudis said to be looking for work, according to Albawaba.
Riyadh also recently announced that dental surgeries would not be able to hire any foreign dentists to make way for Saudis.
Meanwhile, the Saudi interior ministry has revealed that more than 32,000 illegal expatriates have left the country since the beginning of the government campaign “A Nation Without Illegal Expatriates”, as reported, that was launched at the end of March.
It also said that it has arrested 100,000 violators of the country’s residency laws since the launch of the campaign. The drive entailed an amnesty period of 90 days, during which illegal expatriates can leave the country without being subjected to any penalties. Deputy supervisor of the campaign in Riyadh, Col. Safar bin Dlaim, called on violators to make use of the grace period and leave before it ends; however, predictions of up to one million expats being deported seem to wide of the mark.
“Those [violators] who do not leave will be required to pay all fines and fees and will be considered a wanted person in the system,” said bin Dlaim. “The goal of the campaign is for every resident to be legal.”
Fewer than 50 days remain before the amnesty period expires.