In line with the national Saudization program, gold and jewelry shops and factories have begun replacing expatriate workers with Saudi employees. Unofficial statistics indicate that Saudis currently occupy only seven percent of the sector’s positions, reported Al-Hayat.
The Saudization campaign, put into effect last month, aims to check the steadily growing local unemployment, especially among fresh university graduates. 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.
Authorities have begun to officially supervise the implementation of the plan and have even issued violation reports to establishments failing to meet new requirements. Some shops preferred closing their businesses to avoid fines and penalties.
There are currently more than 6,000 gold and jewelry shops operation in Saudi Arabia, employing more than 20,000 workers. 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.
Market sources estimate domestic gold consumption during the first quarter of 2001 at 63.5 tons. This volume reflects a three percent drop compared with the corresponding period of the previous year. In an attempt to boost output, the Saudi government has turned to the private sector and passed new mining regulations. It hopes to achieve a 14-ton domestic gold output by 2003. — (MENA Report)
© 2001 Mena Report (www.menareport.com )