More than 2 million Saudis unemployed by the end of 2012

Ahram Online, Tuesday 18 Dec 2012

Saudia Arabia unemployment rises by another 500 thousand, stressing the need for work force restructuring

More than 2 million Saudis unemployed by the end of 2012
Egyptian laboures in Saudi Arabia (Photo: Ahram)

Unemployment in Saudi Arabia reached almost two million, announced Minister of Labour Adel Faqih. This is out of a 26 million population and translates to 10.5 per cent - a 500 thousand increase over last year.

Unemployment among women is exceptionally high in Saudi Arabia as it surpasses that of men by almost 30 per cent, to reach a total of 1.7 million unemployed female citizens. Almost half of those women hold university degrees, the Saudi labour ministry indicates.

Rising unemployment triggered governmental efforts to restructure the country's mostly-immigrant workforce by pushing to replace expatriate labour with Saudis.

Despite the economic boom and increasing oil revenues Saudi Arabia experienced this year, however, Saudis do not seem to be accepting the jobs created and available. Hiring a Saudi, who generally do not accept lower-wage jobs, is, furthermore, much more costly than hiring expatriates.  

Almost 86 per cent of expatriate labourers occupy mostly blue-collar jobs that are "by nature not suitable to Saudi Arabian citizens," in Faqih's words.

Expert analysis is that the Saudi government is no longer able to create public sector jobs to reduce unemployment rates and must find a way to integrate the unemployed into the private sector.

To combat rising unemployment, the labour ministry additionally announced that it would impose a yearly fee of 24,000 Riyals on foreign labour, with its revenues to be re-channelled to pay unemployment benefits to Saudi citizens.

Remittances from Egyptians in Saudi Arabia have significantly supported the Egyptian economy since the January 2011 uprising, constituting almost 60 per cent of total remittances from overall Egyptians abroad.

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