Saudi Arabia has banned foreigners less than 40 years of age from working in thousands of jewelry shops in the kingdom, a newspaper reported Friday, October 5. The decision, taken by the interior minister and head of the Manpower Council, Prince Nayef Bin Abdul Aziz, aims at creating more jobs for Saudi nationals, Al-Watan reported.
It also comes just a few months after a decision, which ordered all jewelry shops to employ only Saudis, could not be implemented for lack of trained national manpower. Violators have been threatened with hefty financial fines and deportation for the foreign workers.
The new decision set the percentage of Saudi employees in jewelry shops and factories at no less than 30 percent, to be boosted to 50 percent next year and 100 percent the year after.
There are more than 15 jewelry factories and 700 workshops in oil-rich Saudi Arabia, in addition to thousands of shops. The size of the market is estimated at more than one billion dollars. The government has launched a campaign to reduce the number of expatriates in the kingdom, estimated at around seven million, to counter unemployment among Saudi men, which the Saudi American Bank said was set to rise to 15 percent this year.
Two laws came into effect last month ordering corner shops to employ only Saudis and that private businesses employing more than 20 people must increase the number of Saudi nationals to 30 percent of the workforce. — (AFP, Riyadh)
© Agence France Presse
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