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Saudisation push leads to half a million jobs since launch

Saudi profiessional women having a conversation and laughing Reuters
Unemployment among Saudi women has fallen to 15.7%, down from 19.3% last year
  • 176,000 jobs in last year
  • Two private sector roles now allowed
  • Private sector 90% compliant

Saudi Arabia has found work for 176,000 nationals over the past 12 months, through a programme set up two years ago to promote Saudisation – requiring companies to hire Saudi nationals for jobs in the private sector.

This figure is likely to increase following a government announcement this week that Saudi nationals can now hold two jobs in the private sector at the same time. 

Minister of human resources and social development Ahmad Al Rajhi said the Saudisation programme, known as Nitaqat Mutawar, had led to jobs for around 480,000 Saudis in key professions since it was launched in 2021.

Saudis in engineering jobs rose from 40,000 to 70,000 since 2021, those in accounting rose from 39,000 to 107,000, and those in marketing from 35,000 to 104,000. 

Speaking at a forum in Riyadh on November 27, Al-Rajhi said the private sector was more than 90 percent compliant with labour laws, including Saudisation decrees. 

Saudis can hold two private sector jobs, as long as there is no explicit objection from employers, but cannot mix private and public sector work. The clarification came on social media site X, formerly Twitter, in response to a user question. 

Rising employment numbers

Joblessness among citizens in Saudi Arabia declined to 8.3 percent in the second quarter, down from 8.5 percent in the previous quarter and 9.7 percent a year ago, the last official data published in September by the General Authority for Statistics showed. 

When foreign nationals are factored in, the unemployment rate was down at 4.9 percent in the second quarter, from 5.8 percent the year before.

Most foreign nationals – who account for 41 percent of the total population of 32 million, according to the latest census, need an employment contract to live in the kingdom. 

The unemployment rate for female citizens fell to 15.7 percent from 19.3 percent in 2022, while the jobless rate among males remained almost the same at around 4.6 percent.

Increasing employment among Saudi citizens is one of the main goals of the government’s mammoth Vision 20230 economic reform plan that began in 2016 with the aim of diversifying the economy away from reliance on oil revenues.

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