Saudi government announces freeze on expat public contracts

Published:  6 Feb at 3 PM
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Tagged: Australia, Canada, India, Jobs
A devastating announcement by the Saudi government that all expat public contracts are to be frozen has sent shock waves across the kingdom’s foreign communities.

Abdul Rahman al-Barrak, the Saudi Minister for Civil Services, has announced a freeze on all expat posts until qualified Saudi staff can be found. Last year, almost 12,000 expat public sector employees either lost their contracts or had job applications refused.

Al-Barrak confirmed that the move was aimed at the Saudization of the workforce, saying that every government post must now be advertised locally. Expats would only be considered for such posts, he added, if no qualified Saudi applicants were found.

As part of the strategy, he said, all the kingdom’s public sector departments are reviewing the necessary skill sets for each position in order to identify jobs usually filled by expat workers. All Saudi Arabia’s academic institutions have been told to offer qualifications in expat specializations, thus aiming at training locals to take over expat jobs in all fields.

Government, he said, is now focusing on the replacement of all expat workers by Saudi nationals by 2018. The healthcare sector poses the biggest problem, as few Saudis hold qualifications in nursing, medicine or surgery, leaving the government no option but to advertise in Egypt, India and Pakistan for the 3,500 professionals needed.
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