Saudi Arabia has been taking active measures to reduce unemployment, especially for its citizens. In the current financial crises, many companies have been going into liquidation and others are going into cost cutting. This is a difficult time for the Saudi government as well as its citizens. Private companies have been terminating its employees which included Saudis as well as expatriates. Expatriates obviously have a second plan, if they don’t find a good job in Saudi Arabia, they travel back to their home countries. But this is not the case with Saudi who have to live in their country.
In order to protect their interest, the Saudi government has been taking active actions. Nitaqat Law has already been in place which requires companies to hire a certain percentage of its workforce as Saudis. Moreover, there has been many professions which are reserved for Saudis. An expatriate working in Saudi Arabia cannot take any of these professions which mainly include Security and HR. In the beginning of this year, the Saudi government has introduced a dependents’ fee which will continue to increase by the year 2020. According to this, an expatriate would be paying SR 4,800 per dependent to renew his/her Iqama. Moreover, a fee of SR 9,600 per employee will be paid by employers to renew an iqama of its employee. In this way, the cost of living of an expatriate would be more than a Saudi. Moreover, companies will have to incur additional cost on expatriate employee so they would prefer Suadis over expatriates.
All the above mentioned measures have been taken to reduce unemployment among Saudis. Now, another step has been taken by the Saudi Government. Saudi Gazette has reported that the Ministry of Civil Service has asked all ministries and government departments to get rid of expatriate employees by 2020. In the first step of the process, the hiring of new expatriate employees will be halted and the current expatriate employees would be terminated gradually till 2020. I believe that the terminations will start with immediate effect. I already know a couple of my friends who have been terminated from the government jobs.
There are 70,000 expatriate employees working in the government sector as of the end of 2016. It is in the plan of the Saudi Government to reduce this figure to “Zero” by the year 2020. This is one of the main objectives of the National Transformation Program 2020 and the Vision 2030 of Saudi Arabia.
The question arising in the minds of most of the expatriate people is that, how would the government sector survive without expatriates. They need expatriate employees from small chores to high-end jobs. I believe, the Saudi government will be targeting high-end jobs first. Most of the employees would be terminated leaving behind only those are absolutely necessary for the ministries or departments. These employees would be transferred to another sub-contractor and continue to work for the government. Other small chore jobs like cleaning etc. are already sub-contracted.