Yes, Saudi Arabia is for Saudis

Yes, Saudi Arabia is for Saudis


Talal Al-QashqariBy Talal Al-Qashqari

WHEN Saudis launched a Twitter campaign with a hashtag titled Saudi Arabia for Saudis, demanding nationalization of jobs to fight unemployment among the country’s citizens, some foreign workers opposed the move calling it racist.

I would like to tell those expats that it is not racism. They should know that it was just a hashtag raised by a group of unemployed Saudis and some other Saudi nationals supported the campaign as they understand the sentiments of their jobless brothers and sisters.

It is not a new call. Nationals of many other countries have raised the same slogan but nobody termed it as racist. Then why do people call it racist when it comes to Saudi Arabia?

Let me tell frankly that foreign workers have occupied important private sector jobs in the Kingdom. There was no problem for it in the past due to lack of Saudi graduates to take up jobs. Saudi Arabia still welcomes foreign workers to meet its various requirements.

We appreciate that some of these workers have spent more than 50 years in the Kingdom and they live in the country with their sons and grandsons. Now things have changed with thousands of Saudi graduates coming out of universities in the Kingdom and abroad seeking jobs.

It is a fact that despite the presence of thousands of unemployed Saudis in the Kingdom, we have not seen any racist behavior or hate crimes in the Kingdom like in other parts of the world. The Twitter campaign was launched by a group of unemployed Saudis to express their anger against Saudi officials who have failed to provide them with employment opportunities.

The hashtag was not addressing expatriate workers who make use of opportunities in the Kingdom thanks to their educational qualifications and experience.

Let me tell you another surprising fact. Expats show racism by trying to employ their compatriots at the expense of Saudis. It is unfortunate that Saudis are denied of jobs in their own country. I can give you hundreds of examples for this.

Foreign workers try to form their own mafias in Saudi companies to monopolize jobs preventing others from getting employed. Naturally, Saudis are also prevented from getting a chance to get employed due to this attitude of expat groups.

Jeddah, which is the business capital of Saudi Arabia, is a good example of this negative phenomenon. Authorities have so far failed to stop this job monopoly of expats at the expense of Saudis. So there is nothing wrong in the hashtag that urges authorities and private company managers that they should give priority to Saudi workers because Saudi Arabia belongs to Saudis.

What we need is a balancing role to fight unemployment among Saudis by reducing recruitment of foreign workers. No doubt Saudis deserve to be given top priority in jobs because they are the people of this country. Expats should be considered for jobs only after Saudis.

Saudi Arabia has been and will continue to be a country of goodness for people from all over the world and the Kingdom has been blessed by God with resources to support others.


  1. I am a former expatriate who lived in Saudi Arabia and have moved on but continue read articles from this site since I am often concerned about my friends and family still living in Saudi Arabia.

    I think that a citizen has a right to jobs. However, to blame others for such a sorry state of affairs is unwarranted and completely unfair.

    Although there is merit that several expatriates “attempt to form monopolies”, the success of such monopolies only takes place when the Saudi owners form decisions to aid in forming such monopolies either knowingly or unknowingly. Whatever the reason that may be, is it not the right of the Saudi business owner to decide what is best for his/her company? Do they not have the right to hire whomsoever they desire to expand their business and yield more profit?

    I think it is the job of Saudis to manage their expectations rather than hurling blame on either the Saudi government or Saudi business owners or the foreigners who work legally in the country.

    In other countries, many citizens work for free or as volunteers to simply gain experience in their field to become experts. Many citizens of other countries do many menial jobs as well such as collecting garbage, cleaning the streets, being a construction laborer etc. which by the way are the bulk of the jobs that foreigners hold in Saudi Arabia. If Saudis come into these positions, and work hard, they can form unions to pressurize the industry to support them better. There is a reason why such jobs are not menial in modern countries…because the workers know their role and understand the industry.

    Not everyone can hold a white color job and this mindset needs to change. The Saudi society needs to adapt.

    If Saudis are willing to change then there is hope and such passionate Saudis should be given opportunities. Yet, at the same time, such Saudis should continue working…

    As for the Saudis who expect to be spoon-fed….well good luck with that. The time for a golden spoon is over and they better wake up to the new reality.

    There is a saying “when the going gets tough, the tough gets going” and applies well to unemployed Saudis.

    • Fantastic reply….very well said.
      Though the article originally seems to be justifiable through a Saudi’s eye, the ground reality is entirely different.
      Like he can quote hundreds of examples, I too can quote hundreds of examples where the Saudi owners of various establishments are very reluctant to take up Saudis as their employees.
      When the Saudis become equally competent and hardworking as the expatriates even ready to take up menial jobs, u will not find any expatriate here. All money is yours.
      ( I am a Doctor working here since 8 years.)

  2. i totally agree with you bro that ksa is for saudis. sadly recently we hired new staffs and the saudi don’t like to hire his fellow saudi. i felt bad because i support the saudization of jobs. i’m an expat.

  3. This is really true that Saudi Arabia is for Saudis. We as expats will respect on the sentiments of those that are unemployed. WE have to be thankful with our blessings and if time comes that we have to bid good bye to this country, embrace it with open hearts and arms. Our life as well our work is only fleeting. Nothing is permanent in this world. If and when one opportunity closes, bear it in mind that there will be other windows that will be opened. God is merciful and kind. He will not let his people live in misery. Even the ravens have its fill in the eyes of the lord. How much more His greatest creation which is the human being.

  4. The writer did try his best to support both sides of the arguments. However, the writer failed to address some concerns. The expats he speaks about who monopolize the jobs they are in, how did they enter Saudi Arabia? Is the writer trying to say MoL is not protecting the rights of the citizens? How are companies which are apparently being run by expatriates allowed to renew iqamas and avail other government services? Why only nationalization of only a few jobs, why not all jobs including street cleaning, garbage collection, waiters, drivers etc?

  5. In any country , even they replace all outsiders , it may not solve the problem unless until development expand and new businesses grow , because local population increases yearly . So it needs good business climate and support for new businesses . Anywhere hurry decisions to solve 50 years problem by 2 or 3 years , it may not be practical and it can adopt gradual smooth transition .
    There are so much opportunities in retail and tourism sector , which can create even small entrepreneurs . And it needs to analyse why majority locals in a country fly to other places for their vacations rather than boosting local tourism , it may need to add tax on flying for this purpose.
    And other thing it needs to create daily consumers products locally by avoiding imports of essential needs (even cars)

  6. After I was done with my degree, I had decided to move to Saudi Arabia while my friends had each decided to move to USA and Canada, this was 40 years ago. Today, they each are citizens of those countries, they each have children who are either Americans or Canadians with all the benefits that their countries offer, their grand sons and daughters will be born Americans and Canadians without ever knowing of the word “Kafeel”.

    Me on the other hand, I was a “slave” traded among rich people for my expertise from one company to the other. For 40 years I woke up at 5am and went to work every day building a country that is not mine. For 40 years I regretted the decision I made onto coming to this place.. For 40 years men and women of this country treated me like 2nd class.

    So Mr. Talal, I really do not need your appreciation or gratitude I just want my 40 years back so I can go elsewhere, atleast they are more humane and considerate…

    • Dear Sir,

      With all due respect, do not blame others for your lost 40 years in Saudi Arabia, you surely came here because you saw an affluent life ahead rather than going to States or Canada and suffer hardships.

      We all need to know that it is just “US” who decided to come here and nobody called us, neither we were forced by Saudis to work in Saudi Arabia.

      The article above and the writer might not have been truly justified in his writing, but I do see the intention behind it, and it was not radical or against expats, he just wanted to prove a point which is very much true.

      • He is regretting his decision to come to saudi arabia after 40 years. Anyways people should plan their career and future very well until it is too late

      • Right. Nobody has forced us neither we have forced ourselves on anybody else (we could not do it in the 1st place). We should discuss ideas here which broaden our thinking and gives us a depth about realities of this world.

  7. You’re right.. Agreed, KSA for Saudis…
    A simple suggestion: Just Stop issuing new visas; no more transfer of sponsorship and fully halt recruiting those mafias forthwith…
    Thanks for your offer of continuing goodness for people from all over the world. Good luck.

  8. Indeed, it is and Saudis shall be given priority in either way. At the same time, they should be more productive to contribute a needed results both to the corporate & economy. Eventually they should lead while expats would leave either today, tomorrow or the other day. By any means, let’s all have an amicable approach to each other with respects & dignity.

  9. You could solve the expats problem by naturalization. So many expats have been there for over 30 years, have so much know-how and experience. The majority of them have become directors and senior managers as a result. Instead of replacing them and slapping them with new regulations monthly, why not recognize them?

    Ask them to start companies and diversify the economy, and pass on their knowledge and experience to the youth. Any jobs they would create would go to Saudis directly.

    It amazes me how on one hand we want to ‘create’ jobs and on the other business are being harassed. The people who will create and diversify are sweating for iqama renewal. Its even more unfortunate that the people I am suggesting (over 30 years experience engineers/accountants/doctors) are most likely under 200,000 (0.6% of the population)…

  10. I could never disagree on this…and this is true not only in Saudi Arabia…I believe in what everything is mentioned in this article…we came here in search of a decent living to support our family, we enjoyed the peace and the hospitality of the host government(except of course to those who encountered abuse and/or violated the Kingdom’s law, tradition and religious edicts), we benefited during the economic boom of Saudi Arabia and most importantly we contributed to what the Kingdom is now…the only request that we may ask from the government is to at least do it on a gradual and allow the expats to go through a smooth transition to be ready for our repatriation…no matter what happens we will call Saudi Arabia our second home…this is the truth that every Overseas Filipinos must accept young and old…as they normally say, there is no forever except your relationship with your Creator !

  11. Sir, what are you defending, the whole system need to be changed, all expatriates has Saudi kafeel, what ever you have now in the market has been made by Saudi hands.

  12. MashAllah your suggestion truly is ground breaking. Why dont you propose to stop all visas, convince employers to not choose expats over saudies and also get rid of all expats in the kingdom because Saudi Arabia is for Saudies. You think Saudi Arabia would be what it is today without what expats have done so far? Lets talk figures, for your vision 2020 how many expats workers are on the project? Exactly.

  13. Absolute shameful article and the writer should feel equally ashamed.
    The world would be a very sorry place if all countries adopted such an attitude and only employed its native citizens and shunned others from outside.
    Saudi is for Saudis – I disagree..

  14. Mr. Talal,

    You have expressed your points quite profoundly. But, I just have a single question:
    Who hired the Non-Saudi’s instead of Saudis in the first place? When you claim that ‘there was a lack of Saudi Graduates’, are you insinuating that most of the Saudi Population was illiterate except for a couple of recent years?

    I have worked in Saudi Arabia for more than 20 years. And I have changed jobs also. And I had this conversation with my employers (respectable Saudis) that instead of hiring Expatriates and issuing new visas, they should put Saudis to work since it is their country and they should learn to manage it themselves, instead of hiring outside help. Their response was almost always: It’s very difficult to hire a Saudi since most of them are exceptionally egotistical and don’t work as efficiently as the expatriates do…

    When you guys (yes, I mean the SAUDIS only), need cheap labor, or cheap engineers, or cheap doctors, cheap nurses (hats off to brothers from the Philippines especially) or cheap road cleaners (hats off to poor people from Bangladesh), you want the Expatriates to handle those jobs. Sir, I will highly suggest if you can point out any Saudi who can put 5 bricks on his back and climb a 6 story building using stairs when the elevators are not working, multiple times a day, every day for 5 – 6 days a week.

    Why is it that the KSA Ministry of Labor is incompetent in hiring Saudis to do everything instead of issuing visas for expatriates? We all will be exceptionally happy if you (or anyone in the media) can shed light on this predicament. I believe that if anyone is earning an honest wage, even cleaning the gutters is better than being a manager of a firm which is making money illegally.

    Saudi Arabia is for Saudis only, and I agree. But do Saudis agree also? Stop hiring outside help and hire ‘yourself’ to do all jobs instead of cherry picking the easy ones.

  15. People of Saudi Arabia desrve lot of respect from us for hosting maximum expatriates in the world and employing almost all professions. We as expatriates came here by choice. If the local people here wouldn’t have welcomed us, we would never come here. Now they have problem of unemployment amongst their youth, its there right to make policies to give them jobs. Market adjusts itself. If the skills which are in demand in market and local youth lacks those skills, expatriates shall be required.

  16. As I expected the article has attracted a lot of comments and most of them are very objective and there is almost unanimity in the feelings and advice to the writer.

    The question is why should there be a feeling of I won’t say hatred but sense of being uncomfortable with the presence of expatriates. This is not the first article ridiculing indirectly the expatriates and sill. It be the last one. A few weeks ago Mr. Khaled Al Maeena rightly justified the presence of Expatriates in the Kingdom as they did not drop from the skies and came on proper visas.

    I want to ask the writer if he is employing a Saudi to drive his wife and children and a saudi to help his family in maintaining the house.

    The easiest way to force the businesses to employ Saudis is to boycott the restaurants, shops and stores which employ expatriates.

  17. The Saudi Arabia should really start remove all non essential foreigners from there and ensure all their citizens get well paid jobs before they hire any foreigner. It’s like if u come to my house, u cannot order or expect me to give u opportunity to work before my own people gets one. It’s simple as that. All countries shud do the same policy because the citizens have full right.

  18. There is no doubt and no need to say KSA is for Saudis and first right on job is for them. Every country make policies for the betterment of their masses. It is a truth we the expats came here to support our families not to serve (give and take basis). One simple question to all my expats brothers; you built a house for you, will you keep all the labourers at home with you after its completion???? It is goodness of KSA (May Allah bless KSA) they welcomed thousand and thousand workers irrespective of religion or country every year. Millions of people became prosperous .But sad to say our familes started lavished frugal life style back in our homes that we are afraid to maintain as we go back. We or our services are available as needed. And it is the reality either we accept or not. We should not blame or expact too much.

  19. I have said this before but will repeat. There is absolutely no shortage of jobs for Saudis,only an unwillingness of Saudis willing to take the jobs they are qualified to do. But as far as jobs there are dozens for each unemployed Saudis. Unemployed Saudis are unemployed only because they don’t want to work at what’s available to them based on their experience.

  20. In case you havent figured it out by now you need more than just a degree to be fit for a job. Skills and experience are needed which are developed over time.

    If you dont have employers offering entry positions /traineeships coupled with citizens willing to take a low paid job in an entry position for a few years to develop and become the leaders of the future then they will just sit at home with their degrees.

    Lets also be honest how many locals want to do low paid manual jobs? Expats simply fill the gaps in every economy all over the world be it a shortage of skills in the local economy or jobs locals dont want to do.

  21. Allah is the Provider — No fear at all (Rizq min Allah! Ma fee khaof habeeby). All are legally working in Saudi Arabia. Stop changing mindset that could spread hatred. Let’s do our jobs properly. Allah provides Rizq. Getting a job is not easy anyway. Employers look dedication, sincerity, and attitude — not just certificates.

    Being a Muslim, saying “Saudi Arabia is for Saudis” is inappropriate. The land belongs to Allah alone. We all are here for a certain period of time.

    May Allah guide us all. Assalamu alaikum!

  22. For every job in KSA first, second, third right is for saudis if no Saudi available then only expats .
    No expats intruded through border ,but came with visa , why ministry don’t keep online portal for jobs .
    Every employer should register his requirement in the portal if no Saudi available within few weeks then only allow to recruit foreigner , also profession changes has to be strictly regulated.
    I heard from my friends iqama profession changes is very easy so recruit foreigner with AAMIL or loading worker profession, then change profession to better position.
    More than 1 million new job visa every year including higher position, means chronic shortage of employees in the Kingdom.
    Domestic workers/Drivers doing other jobs inside shops and compounds/warehouses is very common they are paying SR 400-500 per month to their Kafeel . Everything’s idea of people of easy money.
    If The Saudis began to plan and implement a good move to growth of employment for Saudis nobody can stop them but willingness and strategy is important than just beating on bush .
    Recent visit to Al-Jazeera car showroom and experience with Saudi supervisor was changed my views on Saudis at work place, if such Saudis are available definitely never ever let them unemployed in their land.