100% Saudization of gold shops starts after several failed shots

Gold shops in Hail have achieved 100 percent Saudization rates well before the Dec. 3 deadline.

Saudi Gazette report

RIYADH — The Ministry of Labor and Social Development began Saudizing jobs in the gold and jewelry industry on Sunday after several failed attempts over the last 16 years.

The ministry cooperated with ministries of interior, municipal and rural Affairs and commerce and investment to enforce the decision.

The ministry said about 30,000 people, the majority of whom expatriates, work in 6,000 gold shops in various parts of the Kingdom.

The ministry, however, exempted expatriates who are married to Saudi women from the Saudization regulations on condition that they still remain married or have children from Saudi women.

The ministry hopes that Saudization of the industry would help combat tasattur operations, where expatriates run businesses in the name of Saudis, by 40 percent.

The gold and jewelry market has an investment worth SR14 billion. The Saudi gold market is one of the biggest in the world and the biggest in the Arab world.

The industry is expected to provide 5,000 jobs for Saudis when the nationalization program is fully implemented.

Gold and jewelry shops had been unresponsive to the ministry’s decision and were run by foreigners as Saudis did not find it a lucrative industry to work in.

They also found the work highly demanding with very little income. The salary a Saudi is likely to earn by working in the industry is between SR3,000 and SR7,000.

The ministry cited many instances of fake Saudization in Makkah during a previous attempt to fully Saudize the industry.

In Madinah, most gold and jewelry stores are owned by Yemeni nationals. They occupy two thirds of the market there. However, Hail has already achieved 100 percent Saudization in the industry.

The ministry had said gold and jewelry shops that employed foreigners would be slapped with a fine of SR20,000 for each expatriate worker after Sunday when 100 percent Saudization takes effect in the sector.

The ministry has appointed permanent inspectors in every market and mall to conduct surprise raids and punish violators of the Saudization law.

Khaled Aba Al-Khail, the ministry›s spokesman, said field inspectors would track down violators and impose fines on violators after the Dec. 3 deadline.

However, members of the Council of Saudi Chambers have expressed their reservation over the success of Saudization in the sector.

“We need to fight tasattur to make saudization successful,” Abdulmohsen Al-Namir, a member of the gold committee at the council, said in a previous statement referring to large numbers of gold shops run by expatriates in the name of Saudis.