Unemployment rate in the Saudi Kingdom, the world's largest oil exporter, has reached 31.7 percent, according to official statistics quoted Wednesday, March 5, in Saudi Arabia's English language daily Arab News. Official unemployment estimates usually do not exceed nine percent of the nation’s labor force. The oil-rich kingdom has a population of 23-million.
The latest unemployment figures were first published in Al-Watan, a government backed Arabic newspaper, based on a recently released study, ‘Unemployment: Causes and Remedies’, conducted under the supervision of the Saudi Monetary Agency (SAMA), who gathered information from the Ministry of Interior, the Ministry of Labor and Social Affairs, the Passport Department, the National Information Center and King Fahd National Library.
The Saudi government announced last month that as many as three million foreigners, mostly Asian, will have to leave the kingdom by 2013, while the entry of new workers will be halted altogether, under a new expatriate labor quota system adopted by Interior Ministry’s Manpower Council. Earlier this year, a draft law proposing to impose a 10 percent income tax on expatriate workers whose monthly salary exceeds $800 was rejected by the Kingdom’s Shoura consultative council.
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. In addition, the proportion of any singly nationality within the entire foreigner population would exceed no more than 10 percent. The ceiling system will open for review every two years.
Currently it is estimated that Saudi Arabia’s expatriate community is nearing seven million strong. Residing among 17 million Saudi nationals, the foreign workers and their families constitute nearly 30 percent of the total Saudi population. The ten percent national quota is currently exceeded by natives of India, Pakistan, Bangladesh, Egypt, Sudan, Syria and the Philippines.
To tackle the nation’s deepening unemployment problem, the government is promoting a ‘Saudization’ drive, creating more jobs for its citizens. Private businesses are now required by law to employ a minimum of 30 percent local workers. — (menareport.com)
© 2003 Mena Report (www.menareport.com )