Close shops at 6:00 p.m.: Shoura member

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Shoura Council. — File photo

By Mohammad Makki

Okaz/Saudi Gazette

RIYADH
— The Shoura Council reopened the debate on shopping center work hours with a proposal to close shops at 6:00 p.m.

Shoura Council member Saeed Al-Malki said we desperately need labor law for people who work in shopping centers and commercial stores.

“We are proposing that shops should close by 6:00 p.m. Only gas stations and pharmacies may remain open till late in the night. Closing shops early will no affect the economy,” said Al-Malki.

He said this will also encourage Saudis to take up jobs currently being occupied by expatriates who willingly work 16 hours a day since most of them live here as singles.

Saudis will not be able to spend 16 hours at workplace as they have family commitment, said Al-Malki.

More than 1.2 million jobs in the retail sector are occupied by foreign workers who are ready to work 15 hours daily. Saudis, who find it difficult to compete with foreigners, have taken only 300,000 jobs in the sector.

Total spending of consumers in the Kingdom is estimated at SR416 billion, of which 35 percent or SR146 billion is spent after 9 p.m., according to a report issued last year by Saudi Fransi Capital.

About 20 percent of this amount goes to food and drinks, 15 percent to clothing and furniture, 30 percent to restaurants and hotels. The report feared a delay in spending SR20 billion in the retail sector until people change their style of shopping.

Last year the Shoura Council asked the ministries of labor and social development and municipal and rural affairs to close down small supply stores and issue retail licenses only to big stores which are capable of employing a large number of Saudi men and women.

It believed that such a move will boost the economy and curb tasattur (foreigners doing business in the names of Saudis against certain fees).


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