28,000 Saudi cabbies make inroads on migrant dominated career path
The Labor Ministry is currently working on a plan to hire as many as 28,000 Saudi job seekers to replace foreigners who dominate the Kingdom’s limousine sector.
According to the plan, the Saudi drivers will get a monthly salary of at least SR 5,000. The plan will be implemented with the financial support of the Human Resources Development Fund, a well-informed source said. The plan is expected to be ready within three months, Al-Madinah Arabic daily reported yesterday.
According to the source, the plan aims to encourage Saudi youths to take up cab driver's jobs, replacing foreigners. There are three ongoing projects to help young Saudi drivers own a limousine of their own. These include the project of Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques King Abdullah, a scheme by the Saudi Credit and Savings Bank and the Abdullatif Jameel Community Initiative.
At present, there are more than 43,000 limousines owned by 1,375 companies in the Kingdom. Among the drivers, Saudis account for 15,000 while the remaining 28,000 are foreigners. Nearly 40 percent of limousines operate in Riyadh, 33 percent in Jeddah and 17 percent in the Eastern Province. Other cities in the Kingdom have a nominal presence of limousines (5 percent). Under the new Nitaqat Saudization program, the required Saudization in the limousine sector is 12 percent.
In 2002, the Council of Ministers took a decision to completely Saudize limousine companies with the objective of opening job opportunities for tens of thousands of Saudi job seekers. Although a grace period for compliance with the regulation was given until the year 2004, several obstacles emerged which made it impossible to implement the decision.
In 2005, the ministry announced that a dearth of Saudi drivers had forced it to put off full nationalization of limousine business for an indefinite period. The late former Labor Minister Ghazi Al-Gosaibi said the Saudization drive in the sector would be carried out in phases later.