Many shops close as Saudization deadline nears

Many shops have down shutters as the deadline to Saudize first four of 12 retail trades approaches. — Okaz photo

By Muhammad Al-Abdullah, Hazem Al-Mutairi and Sultan Al-Maymouni

Okaz/Saudi Gazette

DAMMAM — With just six days remaining for the deadline to 70% Saudize automobile and motorbike showrooms, shops selling readymade garments and children’s and men’s wear, home and office furnishing outlets and household utensil shops, a number of shops have closed down.

The Ministry of Labor and Social Development notified businesses nine months ago that they should begin hiring Saudi employees.

Shutting down these shops by their owners indicate that these were run by expatriate workers.

Abdullatif Al-Nasser, a merchant from Dammam, said many expatriate workers closed down their businesses a few days before the decision of Saudization comes into force. This shows that the shops had been running for many years under tasattur (cover-up business).

Iqbal Muhammad, an expatriate worker, expects more shops to close down in the next two months.

Haitham N., a salesman from Riyadh, said his Saudi sponsor has not taken any action yet about the men’s clothes shop.

Owaid Al-Harbi, a Saudi salesman from Madinah who works at a men’s clothes shop, said, “I have been working here for nine months.”

Muhammad Al-Mutairi, who runs a readymade garments shop, said, “We are ready to implement the Saudization decision and hire around 40 Saudis to work in the shops.”

Fahd Al-Sharafi, an economic expert, said the Saudization of four business activities will reduce tasattur practices by 30% and create hundreds of thousands of job opportunities for Saudi youth.

“Saudizing these jobs will bring benefits to Saudis and the national economy. After all, the Saudi retail market is estimated at around SR375 billion and can create a million job opportunities. Also, the Saudization plan for the sector comes in line with the Saudi Vision 2030 aiming to create rewarding incentives to develop small and medium-scale businesses,” Al-Sharafi said.