Saudi terminates more than 70% of foreign staff in government jobs

The Ministry of Civil Service said in September 2017 that it planned to replace all expat staff in the public sector



Saudi Arabia has made more than 70 per cent of foreigners working in government departments redundant, according to reports.

The Ministry of Civil Service said in September 2017 that it planned to replace all expat staff in the public sector with Saudis. It aims to fill 28,000 roles by the end of 2020.

Arabic newspaper Al-Watan reported that the drive had seen 71 per cent of foreigners working in government roles terminated.

There were 60,000 expats working in the sector last year, according to statistics from the Saudi Arabian Monetary Authority (SAMA).

However, the publication said foreign hires are still being made in healthcare and education – where 91 per cent of the remaining expats are employed.

Civil service minister Sulaiman Al-Hamdan said earlier this year that he did not think it would be possible to replace all foreigners in the two sectors within the 2020 timeframe.

Read: Saudi won’t fast-track replacement of foreigners in government roles

The government is also restricting some jobs in the private sector to Saudi nationals under a wider goal to create 1.2 million jobs and reduce unemployment among citizens to 9 per cent by 2022.

Saudi unemployment was steady at 12.9 per cent in the second quarter as an exodus of foreign workers continued.

Read: Saudi unemployment steady in Q2, foreign labour force down 290,000

More than 524,000 expats left the workforce in the first half of the year and further departures are expected as upcoming restrictions on retail roles force companies to replace their foreign staff with citizens.

Read: Saudi ministry warns new retail job restrictions 12 days away