Saudization programme stalls Saudi Arabia construction industry

Published:  5 Aug at 6 PM
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Tagged: Visas, Australia
Saudi Arabia’s attempt to correct visa statuses amongst expat workers has hit the construction industry hardest whilst not stalling the overall labour market as hoped.

Prior to April this year, an estimated 12 million expats were living and working in the kingdom, at all levels from domestic workers to executives in the Saudi offices of international companies. Official figures as to the number of expatriates forced to leave after the black market labour crackdown began are sketchy at best, but suggest at least one million workers are involved to date.

Construction workers make up a good number of the 10 per cent of the total expat workforce who are no longer in the kingdom, causing major disruption to the number of construction contracts underway in April. According to Arab News, out of 250,000 contracts, 90,000 have now been cancelled due to inability to fulfill contractual obligations.

A representative from the national Committee in Saudi Chambers, Raed Aqeili, told the media that most of the cancelled contracts had been held by small contracting firms. Large contractors, he suggested, turn to agents for professional contract labour.

Fears are surfacing in the industry that the number of building contractor companies will shrink considerably due to the introduction of higher contract prices. The stated purpose of the labour crackdown was to accdellerate the Nitaqat scheme and rationalise the oversupplied labour force, mostly made up of workers from overseas and with smaller companies in the front line as regards the hiring of illegal workers.
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