Hundreds of thousands of expats leaving as Saudization takes shape

Published:  15 Nov at 6 PM
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Since the beginning of 2017, more than 300,000 expats have left Saudi Arabia as the new Crown Prince’s vision for the kingdom begins to bite.

More than a thousand foreign workers are losing or quitting their jobs and leaving the Gulf State every day, whilst the numbers of jobless expatriates now increased to around 66,000 by the end of 2017’s second quarter. July’s introduction of swinging new laws reducing jobs for foreigners as well as imposing a financial levy on workers’ families are both considered as reasons for the upheaval in Saudi’s expat jobs market.

The changes are exactly in line with newly-appointed Crown Prince Mohammad’s vision for Saudi Arabia’s future as a state with less reliance on oil revenues for its survival. The prince is also reported as having other princes and even his own relatives imprisoned for disagreeing with his 10-year plan. State subsidies for citizens have been drastically reduced, leaving a large number of expatriates without work and in financial difficulties as a result.

It’s not just expat workers who’ve been hard hit by royally-introduced rulings, as around half a million Saudi nationals have left their jobs in the private sector. On the other hand, some half a million Saudi women had joined the labour market by the end of September this year. According to officials, the fall in expat worker numbers is in line with the planned Saudization of the local jobs marketplace, but is causing the unemployment rate to rise.

Meanwhile in Oman, a massive new investment by the government is expected to create jobs for Omani nationals as well as for expats. The investment is aimed at various up- and downstream oil and gas projects due to start early in 2018, with the focus on exploration and development of resources. Crude oil production is expected to be cut, and a new refinery will be constructed. Ministers believe the sheer size of the investment will stimulate the emirate’s economy as well as bringing in new technology and cost-effective practices.
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