Renewed calls for 'Saudization' as 1.27m expat jobs identified for 'willing' Saudis

Published June 23rd, 2015 - 07:55 GMT

About 1.27 million jobs in remote areas of the country are currently occupied by foreigners and can be made available for willing Saudis, according to Abdul Rahman Al-Zamil, president of the Council of Saudi Chambers (CSC).

The jobs include operation and maintenance work on hospitals, roads and electricity projects. “At present, these jobs are done by foreigners who earn billions of riyals in salaries,” he said at a press conference in Makkah.

He said unemployment in major Saudi cities was lower than in remote cities and townships. “We have asked the king to ensure the private sector has a chance to invest in remote areas.”

Al-Zamil also said that Makkah and Madinah would see unprecedented investment in the next five years.

“Makkah will be able to accommodate 20 million pilgrims annually once the development projects are completed, which will benefit service sectors such as hotels and transport,” Al-Zamil said.

About the meeting of Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques King Salman with business leaders and bank executives in Jeddah, he said it was an important gathering and shows “the outstanding role being played by the private sector in boosting the economy.”

He called on the government to increase the Saudization quota in the contracting sector from five to 20 percent, and determine the jobs allocated to citizens and their salary scales.“Employment of Saudis should be mentioned in the contract, so that companies are obliged to follow it. Health insurance, housing and transport allowances should also be mentioned. Moreover, Saudis must be allowed to switch jobs to other companies.”
 
He said the meeting discussed two important issues. One was related to creating jobs for young Saudi men and women in the private sector and the other which made it mandatory for project contractors to ensure local rather than foreign procurement. He also referred to the meeting between Saudi businessmen and Deputy Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, second deputy premier and minister of defense, during his visit to Russia.

“New ideas were presented during that meeting and Prince Mohammed bin Salman was very enthusiastic and called for greater private sector participation in the nation building process, and being a partner in taking decisions.”
 
Al-Zamil said the prince had asked them to present reports every month or every two months on obstacles being faced by the private sector while dealing with the various ministries and departments. “The prince also asked us to meet him every month to discuss matters directly. He wanted to have a direct channel, with him being the chairman of the Council of Economic and Development Affairs.”
 
“We told the prince that a single minister should not be allowed to take decisions that affect the market and people. Such matters should be discussed at the economic council, which should take appropriate decisions,” said Al-Zamil.
 
The economic council has discussed the issue of visas in the presence of the foreign minister, he said.
 
By Abdulhadi Habtor

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