A call for the replacement of expats with Saudis in the retail sector is prompted out of necessity rather than discrimination, says Arab News.
January 4, 2011 1:53 by shafeer
There are a number of reasons. There are the Saudi employers who continue to use foreigners because they are cheaper or because they think them more productive. Then there are the more colorful reasons — such as, in the Saudization of gold shops, foreigners passing themselves off as Saudis by dressing up in thobes and shamaghs.
The Saudization of the entire retail sector has its attractions given the mountain to climb. It would create tens of thousands of jobs. Moreover, young Saudis can already be seen working — and working hard — in supermarkets; the notion that they look down on such work is clearly a myth. But it could not happen in one fell swoop. The sudden and complete Saudization of the retail sector would create chaos. It would have to happen in stages, albeit rapid stages. And it would have to be rigorously and consistently enforced, which present Saudization rules are not.
The biggest drawback, however, remains the salary differentials. While foreigners continue to be paid less, employers will continue to use them. Were the government, in tandem with restrictions on numbers of expatriates employed in the Kingdom, to ban pay differentials between foreigners and Saudis doing the same job and police that change, it would significantly expand the job market for Saudis. The present policy of actually encouraging employers to pay Saudis more in fact discriminates against them and makes the government’s aims all the more difficult to achieve.
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