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Saudi Arabia To Intensify Crackdown On Illegal Workers

Saudi expats apprehensive over new labour law

"We will continue to issue visas for others but those who want to come to this country have to respect the law," says Saudi's labour minister.

April 18, 2013 10:50 by



In the next version of its labour quota system, which will be launched in the next three months, requirements to hire Saudi citizens in the retail sector will be increased, Fakieh said.

DIFFICULTIES

Some businesses and schools in Saudi Arabia have reported difficulties operating over the last several weeks as some expatriate workers have stayed at home to avoid inspectors checking their work permits.

But so far, there is no clear sign that the Saudi economy as a whole has suffered, with the stock market and business sentiment surveys remaining strong. In early April, King Abdullah ordered that migrant workers breaking regulations be given a grace period of up to three months to sort out their papers.

Fakieh said his ministry’s policies over the past 18 months had put some 600,000 Saudi citizens into private sector jobs, though he added that because of staff turnover, about 400,000 now remained employed in those jobs.

A cut in the number of foreign workers in Saudi Arabia could benefit the economy by reducing the flow of billions of dollars of earnings being remitted abroad every year. It could also pressure companies into raising wages for workers among the country’s roughly 19 million local citizens, analysts say.

Another major step that could reduce foreign labour would be to lift the country’s ban on women driving. Saudi Arabian billionaire Prince AlWaleed bin Talal threw his support behind that reform this week, saying it would make economic sense by dispensing with at least 500,000 foreign drivers. But there is no clear sign that the government, conservative in many social issues, will take that step.



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