Twitter users meet Saudi Minister over expat worker fines

Published:  11 Dec at 6 PM
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Saudi Arabia’s Minister of Labour met recently with Saudi and expat Twitter users after the announcement of vastly increased fees for private companies who employ more expats than Saudi nationals.

The announcement of the fines caused an explosion in comments on Twitter by both Saudi business people and expat workers, prompting minister Adel al-Fakeih to call for the meeting. According to a report in Al Arabiya, the minister hoped to be able to explain the implications of the increase as well as the Labour Ministry’s position.

Although media outlets were forbidden from attending, the meeting went on for a full three hours, with Al Fakeih stating the justification of the fines was the finding new ways to offer suitable jobs to Saudi nationals at present victims of the 10 per cent unemployment rate in the kingdom. According to one Twitter user, businessman Khaled al Ulqomi, a culture of dialogue was established between Saudi citizens and labour officials.

Al Ulqomi said he appreciated the minister’s initiative in calling the meeting, adding that he himself had made several suggestions. A January statement by Al Fakeih said that three million jobs needed to be created by 2015 and double that amount by 2030, partly by means of Saudization of jobs held by foreign workers.

Nevertheless, many employers fear that the new fees may force them out of business, as 90 per cent of private sector jobs are filled by overseas workers. Over eight million expats work in the country, with the Saudi government well aware that high unemployment of locals in the Arab Spring countries helped spark the riots.
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