Expat executives hit Saudi Arabia glass ceiling

Published:  23 Sep at 6 PM
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Tagged: Visas, Australia, Jobs
However crucial a part they may be playing in the largest economy in the Middle East, most expats hoping to land the top jobs in Saudi Arabia are doomed to disappointment.

According to the Saudi Labour Department only 15 per cent of nationals in the country work in the private sector. However, at the highest executive level, management positions are reserved for Saudi Arabians, with 92 per cent of the top executive and CEO positions held by nationals.

The sector with the most expat employees is engineering, with only 149,000 Saudis to over three million expat workers, and the jobs gap in the technology sector is almost as wide, with 462,000 expats employed alongside just 100,000 Saudis. The service sector employs 265,000 nationals and two million expats across a broad spectrum of jobs.

In the chemical and food industries there are 232,00 expats against just 23,000 locals, and sales positions employ 106,000 Saudis and 160,000 expats. Rural and agricultural work including animal husbandry accounts for 750,000 workers from overseas and just over 3,000 nationals, mostly in managerial or clerical positions.

However, the main issue for the Saudi government is the black economy, with a minister now tasked with closing down the entire sector. According to the Council of Saudi Chambers, as much as 80 per cent of the motor repair and servicing business in the kingdom is operated illegally by foreigners without visas working in cover-up businesses.

Cover-up trade in the vehicle and retail sectors is estimated at £40 billion, over a third of the kingdom’s total economy, and a period of grace has now been announced for foreigners to legalise their businesses. Should they fail to do so by 4 November, retribution will follow and, from that date, only Saudi nationals will allowed to operate in the motor trade.
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