Saudi Arabia: Saudiazation and Expatriates


In its latest efforts towards Saudiazation Saudi Arabia’s Minister of Labor, Adel Faqih, announced that expatriates who have lived in the Kingdom for six years (or longer – sic) will be prohibited from renewing their work permit.  According to Faqih, in an article which appears in Al Watan newspaper, companies will be given five months to adjust and comply with this ruling. This decision is to further combat rising unemployment among Saudi nationals. It is estimated that half a million Saudis of working age are currently employed as compared to eight million employed expatriates who send an estimated 100 billion riyals (US$26.6) back to their respective home countries annually.

The decision announced by Faqih has far reaching implications.  A large number of Saudi’s expatriates are from the poorer Asian countries of Pakistan, India, Philippines and Indonesia where the expatriate worker is often the primary support system of a large and extended family back home. Other GCC nationals working in Saudi Arabia can be impacted by this decision as well.

At the same time the ‘coming to age’ of the Kingdom’s next generation which make up the majority of the population should have viable opportunities to contribute and work in their home country.  While there will likely be ripples during the latest decree of Saudiazation in the longer term this is a necessary action for stability within Saudi Arabia.


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