The majority of expats come to Saudi Arabia to work. This may be due to a lack of opportunities in their home country or more likely, the opportunity to earn more working in Saudi Arabia. Many expats working in Saudi Arabia continue to have responsibilities of supporting family back in their home countries. A lot of expats take the opportunity to work in a conservative country with social limitations in order to save a nest egg which they can use to purchase a home in their country of origin or perhaps to pay off debts.
However, the Ministry of Labor now intends to implement new guidelines which places limitations on how much an expat can send out of the country. This is being done on the basis to boost the domestic economy in Saudi Arabia.
Introducing new programs which help Saudization and fill jobs with Saudi nationals is a positive thing, placing limitations on an expats salary does not seem ethical or practical and raises many questions.
What do the experts propose the money that is kept in the country will be spent on? After one buys gas and groceries, most expats are not in the market for buying houses, clothing or luxury cars. The stock market is not an attractive option for anyone with a reasonably intact memory.
Personally I think expats would find creative ways to circumvent this requirement.
Saudi Arabia to limit how much expats can send home
Alarmed by a predominantly expatriate workforce in Saudi Arabia sending large money transfers outside of the country, the Saudi Labor Ministry has said it will introduce a “salary protection” program to boost its domestic economy.
The new program will dictate the amount an expat working in Saudi Arabia can send back home, the Saudi labor minister, Adel Fakih, said. Expats must keep the bulk of their salaries within the country under the new program.
“About nine out of 10 workers in the country are foreigners,” Fakih said. “This has led to millions of riyals being transferred back to their home countries, harming the local economy,” Fakih added.
The Labor Ministry has also put a 20 percent ceiling on the country’s guest workers in its latest bid to help make jobs for Saudi nationals.
“The maximum number of long-term expatriate workers in the kingdom should not exceed 20 percent of the Saudi population,” a spokesman from the ministry was quoted as saying in the Saudi daily Arab News.
Within the next three years, Fakih expects unemployment among Saudi nationals to decline by 50 percent because of ministry initiatives. The country’s unemployment rate for Saudi citizens was 10.8 percent in July.
The ministry said it intends to launch 30 new initiatives as part of its drive to create jobs for Saudi university graduates.
Fakih told Arab News that the initiatives would include efforts to develop the skills of Saudi workers, informing the private sector about qualified Saudi jobseekers and opening new opportunities for women.
Fakih also said the ministry would eliminate the so-called “Saudization” plan that had been put in to encourage more nationals to work.
Instead, Fakih said that the “Hafiz” program, which provides financial assistance to Saudis who are not employed until they are provided with a job, will better support nationals in need of job opportunities.
The ministry had previously said it would begin to pay unemployment benefits for the first time beginning in November