Over 1.3 million unemployed nationals in Saudi Arabia are now receiving the unemployment allowance introduced by the country last year, labour minister Adel Faqeeh has said.
In comments published by the official Saudi Press Agency (SPA), Faqeeh praised the efforts taken by Saudi’s King Abdullah to increase employment in the country.
He also said that the country’s Nitaqat programme has helped in employing more than 300,000 Saudis including 54,000 women in less than a year.
King Abdullah had announced the Hafiz (unemployment allowance) programme last year to help the increasing number of unemployed youth in the country. The programme, which started in December 2011, pays unemployed Saudis SAR2,000 riyals a month for a maximum of one year. The majority of the recipients, up to 80 per cent, are women.
Meanwhile, the Nitaqat programme, also launched last year, instructs firms in the Kingdom to employ a higher percentage of Saudi nationals, and rewards the ones that hire the most locals.
Saudi Arabia has been struggling to reduce its high unemployment rate, estimated to be over 10 per cent, for the last few years.
In January, Faqeeh said that the country needed to create three million jobs for nationals in the next three years, and six million jobs by 2030.