Saudi Arabia: Saudiazation and Expatriates


In its latest efforts towards Saudiazation Saudi Arabia’s Minister of Labor, Adel Faqih, announced that expatriates who have lived in the Kingdom for six years (or longer – sic) will be prohibited from renewing their work permit.  According to Faqih, in an article which appears in Al Watan newspaper, companies will be given five months to adjust and comply with this ruling. This decision is to further combat rising unemployment among Saudi nationals. It is estimated that half a million Saudis of working age are currently employed as compared to eight million employed expatriates who send an estimated 100 billion riyals (US$26.6) back to their respective home countries annually.

The decision announced by Faqih has far reaching implications.  A large number of Saudi’s expatriates are from the poorer Asian countries of Pakistan, India, Philippines and Indonesia where the expatriate worker is often the primary support system of a large and extended family back home. Other GCC nationals working in Saudi Arabia can be impacted by this decision as well.

At the same time the ‘coming to age’ of the Kingdom’s next generation which make up the majority of the population should have viable opportunities to contribute and work in their home country.  While there will likely be ripples during the latest decree of Saudiazation in the longer term this is a necessary action for stability within Saudi Arabia.


25 Responses

  1. Wow, any feedback on what the people living in Saudi think of this news? I feel for the people in the poorer countries – the extended families – who rely on someone working in KSA to support them. But I understand KSA needing jobs for their own people too. When you have so many children per family, you need to support them somehow.

  2. Soooo, what about the drivers? 😛

  3. Ok, I’ve heard this news once as you have stated it and once explained to me in detail…

    As per Saudinization laws, Companies in Saudi Arabia are obligated to have a certain percentage of employees (I think 20-30%) Saudi.

    As per the new guidelines, Companies will be categorized into 3 categories, Green (fulfilling saudi %), yellow (semi-fulfiled), RED (Not close to fulfilment).

    As per the above, Yellow & red companies will not be allowed to have any new expatriate visas issued. Yellow companies will not be allowed renewal of visas of any employess that have stayed over 6 years. RED Companies will not be allowed to Renew any visas for any employees.

    A central agency will be tasked with fitting unemployed saudis with either yellow/red companies to fit their quota based on the saudi’s compitencies.

    This way, unemployed saudis have no excuse and companies have no excuse.

  4. Ridiculous! So, experienced, trained workers will be sent home, and companies will have to re-train more workers to replace them on a continuous basis.Just as someone becomes good at his job- off he goes. That makes a lot of sense…NOT! And will someone please explain how 500,000 Saudis will replace 8 million expats? Just asking…So, are they saying that all the millions who have been in the Kingdom for longer than 6 years now, will now leave in a mass exodus? The place would come to a standstill. Please explain.

  5. Hi,

    Can u please pass me e direct link for this article. Thanks

  6. Finally allowing women to drive their own cars would add a lot to ”saudization”.

  7. Apparently, 480,000 Saudis are supposed to replace about 4 million expats. My husband, just like many other expats, is working for a company that did not respect Saudisation rules. In fact, his company refused to employ Saudis because these guys come late to work, and when they are around, they are either drinking qahwa or smoking. This leaves my huband and I wondering whether we should make an unplanned trip back home, or hope that he would find another job with a company in the green list.
    This new decision will leave many expats stranded, especially those who have extended families to feed back at home. May Allah help Saudis to become more responsible and productive and more grease to their elbows. It is their country, so we can only wish them well.

  8. Just to clear any misunderstanding, the Minister of Labour said, about 50% of the expats working for the companies in the yellow and red lists would be absorbed by the companies in the green list. So, 8 million expats would not be going back home earlier than planned. That means about half a million Saudis would be replacing about 4 million expats and not 8 million. We shouldn’t forget the drivers too; their situation should be different, unless women are allowed to drive (which is very unlikely).

  9. Daprize: “In fact, his company refused to employ Saudis because these guys come late to work, and when they are around, they are either drinking qahwa or smoking”.

    I think what Daprize points out is at the crux of the repeated failures at attempts at “saudization of the
    workforce”. Though somewhat dated but perhaps still factual today, according to a newspaper article I read:

    “To stem a high jobless rate, the government wants to replace foreign workers with Saudis. But many employers think Saudis are lazy and want too much money for little effort”.

    It’s interesting to note that many saudi youth refuse to work in so-called “menial” jobs. I think that’s where saudi shayks can help by isssuing a fatwa making it halal for saudi youth to participate in the saudization efforts. They can cite Prophet’s example who worked as a shepherd in his youth before he became a successful businessman.

  10. I think the 6 yr rule is fair.. i don’t know about the green/yellow thing, but if an expat comes it i don’t think it should take more than 6yrs to train a willing saudi to replacec the expat .. most countries have visa rules , no one gives unlimited guest presvilages, the only issue i see is if someone wants to stay forever then they should have a PR / GC type program where they can apply with intent to get permanency…

    As for lazy people – tey exist everywhere… maybe saudi’s want to all be managers , but i’m sure they won’t prefer starvation to working lowly jobs 🙂

  11. Big joke. Can you see Saudis doing what workers in the poorer countries do? It’s an excuse, just like in the US where people claim that Mexicans and other undocumented are taking jobs from Americans.

  12. Heard it all before many times. Working in Armed forces hospitals we would get Saudis employed in Riyad sent to us and start off saying all the right things but quickly only turning up to work one half day a week in one case. This individual was then sent on a training course to Riyadh for a week but failed to turn up to the course. They just laughed at the local Saudi who tried to take action and said openly that all he could do was give them a bad report which would only result in them not getting promoted and they did not need promotion. Expats were often not re-contracted even though no one was available for the position vacated. Its the SAudi way. There are some good and keen ones coming through but need years more experience.

  13. With the new generation of rising young Saudis who comprise the majority of the Kingdom’s population coming to age and needing jobs, I think there are going to be changes. The old ways are not going to continue to work for the new generation since there are just too many of the new generation who will be competing for jobs, housing and keeping their families fed.

  14. The new generation, unfortunately- are victims of one of the worst educational systems ever. And most of the reforms are taking place at the top in higher education- the foundational years are still completely inadequate in many cases. So those that can afford private education will also benefit from the reforms in higher education- and many who cannot afford private education will not qualify for the improved higher education. The poor public educational system has helped solidify the gap between the “haves” and “have nots”. Of course some of the “haves” with their sense of entitlement will not have benefitted from the private education- but many will have.

  15. I think I actually agree with this. I’m not sure what industries are included and where the foreign workers will be redirected to if theyre cut from the jobs they have to help employ more locals, but this isn’t the first place to ensure its local employment.
    It makes sense.
    They need to better educate and train their locals for more diverse employment, and what better way then to try to ensure that if they go through the trouble, they have a decent chance of being employed.
    I feel for those who will be shifted from their positions or cut completly, but I see this as a country trying to protect it’s economy and future- something every country does.
    I guess we’ll see how it unfolds

  16. My question is how does one overhaul the governmental education system? I do agree, Sandy, that the governmental education starting from primary school needs vast reforms. I’d also like to see more technical institutes or even technical education within high schools to better equip the Saudis that fall in to the “have not’s” of the public education system.

    It is true that the newer Universities in Saudi are very good and providing opportunities that had not been previously available in the Kingdom to university level students.

  17. This is the perfect face-saving opportunity for allowing women to drive. It will eliminate expats.

  18. […] male lingerie clerks with female Saudi clerks is a clever and strategic part of implementing “Saudiazation” where Saudi nationals replace expatriate workers in the local job force. Saudi women gain […]

  19. […] male lingerie clerks with female Saudi clerks is a clever and strategic part of implementing “Saudiazation” where Saudi nationals replace expatriate workers in the local job force. Saudi women gain […]

  20. I think best choice is to leave Saudi Arabia ASAP and advise all the people to your home countries ” Never goto Saudi for work ” .

  21. This is discrimination. United Nations should act on this. But what can we expect? Saudis are well-known for their descriminations (they even descriminate their own people, women in particular.) Before, it was religion against qualifications. Now its citizenship over qualifications. What’s next???????

  22. Saudi Arabia should take this into consideration (that is, if someday, they will be needing foreign investors to invest in the hotel and other industries): If I am an investor and very concerned of my profit, I will not hire a lazy, unprofessional and incompetent Saudi, for the heck of it. BUT, if the Ministry of Labor, strictly imposed that on me. I better invest my money where it can profit through the help of manpower.

  23. I personally Belive that it’s a good thing that Saudi is doing so. Because of many reasons but the main reasons is that many of the saudi men and women can be employed, and instead of 100million riyals a year going out of the county it would stay inside and go back to the economy instead of a another’s. This could help bulid a better infrastructure. But that doesn’t meen that Saudi won’t have any expats it only means that there would be less untill the point that there are enough Saudis trained on how to do the jobs that many expats are doing. but of course Saudi will always have the labor workers which are made up from ; india,pakistain,Bangladesh,Egypt, and the Philippines. This I Belive would remain in saudi.
    So either way there will be expats but just less.

  24. Saudi Arabia launched Nitaqat system for all companies and categorized it in colors whether it is benfited or not to improve Jobs for Saudization where Saudi citizens get more jobs.

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