In a sign of the times, Saudi Arabia's Binladin Group has announced the layoff of some 15,000 staff, Reuters reports.
One of Saudi Arabia's largest firms, the Binladin Group employs around 200,000 people and is considered one of the Middle East's largest builders.
Some of the 15,000 workers will be laid off immediately, while others would be transferred temporarily to work on an airport project in Jeddah, reported Reuters.
"The Saudi construction sector is definitely soft. There's general uncertainty and it's very difficult to plan where to focus on because companies are not sure which projects will go ahead, said an industry source.
In addition, new labor law reforms have made it harder to recruit foreign workers, as the government continues its drive to encourage more citizens to enter the private sector. Further austerity measures are likely to be taken next month after an announcement of next year's budget plan.
The Binladin Group has been suspended from taking on new contracts following a crane accident at Mecca's Grand Mosque in September, which resulted in the death of 107 people. Preliminary investigations reported that the contractors did not secure the crane properly.
Binladin did not reply to requests for comment at its offices in Riyadh, Jeddah and Dubai.
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