Saudi retail, wholesale restrictions could impact 1.22 million foreign-held jobs

The kingdom will require 70 per cent of jobs in 12 retail areas to be held by Saudis over the coming months



Saudi government plans to restrict jobs in the retail and wholesale sectors to nationals could affect as many as 1.22 million expat jobs, according to reports.

Under the rules, which came into effect this month, automobile and motorbike showrooms and shops selling items including ready-made clothing for men and children, home and office furniture, household goods and utensils must ensure 70 per cent of their sales staff are Saudi.

Read: Saudi inspectors record first violations of new foreign labour rules in Riyadh

The new regulation, which will eventually apply to 12 retail roles, was first announced in January. It is intended to provide more job opportunities for Saudi nationals in the private sector

Arabic newspaper Al-Watan cited market sources as confirming that up to 1,288,605 non-Saudis were holding jobs in the affected roles, equivalent to about 74 per cent of the workforce

Outlets selling electrical appliances and electronics, watches and optical instruments will be subject to the staff limit from November 9 and those selling medical appliances and equipment, building and construction materials, vehicle spare parts, carpets and confectionary from January 7.

The Ministry of Labour and Social Development previously estimated that up to 471,887 retail and wholesale shops could be affected, according to local reports.

Government figures showed 758-791 non-Saudis working in retail roles and 170,027 in wholesale roles last year.

Bank of America Merrill Lynch (BofAML) said in a February report that “tens of thousands” of expats could lose their jobs under the restrictions, although there was no specific data available.

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