In line with the national Saudization program, gold and jewelry shop owners had until yesterday to replace some 25,000 foreign workers with local employees.
Inspection squads were ordered to pay visits to the Kingdom’s jewelry stores in order to promote compliance, according to the Director of the National Program for Training and Employment in Mecca, Abdulaziz Al-Hazaa. Violators would be warned and fined twice. A third violation would result in the closure of stores and the deportation of foreign workers, Al-Hazaa told Al-Madinah.
There are currently more than 6,000 gold and jewelry shops operating in Saudi Arabia, employing more than 20,000 workers, mainly originating from India and Yemen. Average wages of these workers range from $1,000 to $3,000 monthly, based on experience. There are more than 2,000 unlicensed smaller gold shops in the Kingdom. These employ some 25,000 workers.
The Saudization campaign, launched last year, aims to check the steadily growing local unemployment, especially among fresh university graduates. Some 25 economic sectors are expected to be nationalized over the next three years. Travel agencies are next on the list, with an estimated 10,000 of 25,000 jobs targeted for Saudization, reported Arab News.
The program applies to all levels of the market’s operation—salespeople, administrators and in financial jobs—except the technical duties, which will remain in the hands of foreigners. The move is expected to create 20,000 new jobs for Saudi nationals.
Under the new regulations, the number of foreigners residing in the kingdom will gradually be brought down to 20 percent of the indigenous Saudi population. More than three million foreigners, mostly Asian, will have to leave the Saudi kingdom by 2013, while the entry of new workers will be halted altogether. — (menareport.com)
© 2004 Mena Report (www.menareport.com )