Expat bulk buyers and Saudi farmers hit hard by Jeddah Market Saudization

Published:  5 Nov at 6 PM
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Tagged: Visas, Australia
A daily loss of around SR4 million is being reported by fruit and vegetable traders at Jeddah’s famous market after legal limits were placed on expat purchases.

Non-Saudi customers are now prohibited from buying in bulk at the popular market, with only two or three boxes of fresh produce permitted. To ensure the new law is complied with, barbed wire fences now surround the area, entry and exit gates are manned by guards, and officials are located at each stall.

As a result of the market’s Saudization, there’s already a noticeable decline in the number of expat buyers who regularly arrive from across the kingdom to stock up on ultra-fresh fruit and vegetables. Many buy on behalf of hospitals, schools and hotels outside Jeddah, and their loss as customers is already hitting traders in their pockets.

Meanwhile, another new law due to be enforced in January will force female expats to submit to fingerprinting as part of the requirements for entry and exit visas. Male expats already have to comply, and those who do not register their biometric data will be refused passport services.

The Saudization scheme is also being touted as the reason behind a call by Saudi businessmen to ban all expats who leave on an exit visa from returning to the kingdom for at least two years. Those supporting the plan believe that Saudi businesses will be forced to hire local people as a replacement.

A recent expat survey found that the Gulf States including Saudi Arabia were considered top destinations for skilled professionals taking on contracted overseas positions. Given the increasing push towards Saudization and its equivalent in other Gulf states, it’s possible that the region’s popularity with expat workers may be heading for a serious fall.
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