60% hike in recruitment of expatriate workers

60% hike in recruitment of expatriate workers


Saleh Al-Zahrani
Okaz/Saudi Gazette

JEDDAH — The issuance of recruitment visas for foreign workers increased by 60 percent in 2015 in comparison to the previous year, according to experts.

Namaa Group Head Abdullah Al-Shaddadi said the Kingdom recruited a total of 1.6 million expatriates during the past year.

“Despite the fact that the Ministry of Labor successfully employed 250,000 Saudis during the past year and a total of 772,000 Saudis during the past five years, the rate of unemployment in the Kingdom remains high,” said Al-Shaddadi.

He added that Saudi employees in the private sector constitute 15 percent of total workers.

“There are 1.6 million Saudis employed in the private sector while more than eight million expatriates from 120 different nationalities are working in the private sector. Most of the expatriates are from Asian countries. Despite many programs and regulations the ministry has put in place to increase Saudi employment, the need for foreign workers is steadily increasing,” said Al-Shaddadi.

He also said that there are over a million participants in the Hafiz program for employment training and aid and over 600,000 participants in the Jadarah employment program.

“The number of Saudi graduates is increasing. About a quarter of a million Saudis are graduating on an annual basis and only 120,000 jobs are offered,” said Al-Shaddadi.

“The ministry should review the qualifications required for recruiting expatriates. There are many foreign residents in the Kingdom with low competence. This means that Saudi graduates are more competent to replace foreign workers,” said Al-Shaddadi.

Economist Abdulilah Mouminah said many Saudis who own businesses do not actually run their own businesses.

“Saudis have relied on expatriates for too long to the point that it has become a part of the Saudi culture. Saudis need to empower other Saudis in order to regain a more nationally independent job market,” said Mouminah.


  1. how you possibly expect to increase saudi employment while increasing expat work visas is beyond me? Yet I see lots of unfilled jobs everyday in the Kingdom. Not a lack of jobs Just a lack of Saudis willing or trained to work thats all.

  2. I believe the matter of of Saudi employment is being totally mismanaged by all concerned departments and ministries. They lack a clear vision and plan. The first step to resolve this issue is to fix the education system, which seems to be totally out of touch with market demands. Secondly, the attitude of Saudi youth about work needs a major overhaul. Unless these two steps are taken, Saudi unemployment is going to keep rising.

  3. Without going into problems and possible solutions, let’s talk about the article. It is misleading as it does not identify between the recruitment sectors (engineering, construction, domestic help, service industry etc) and levels (unskilled, semi skilled, skilled and specialist).

    For example the info graphic shows that there are more than 8 million expats and 70% have high school diploma. The information is there but incomplete, inconclusive, and misleading.

    If the author had further broken down into the employment by sector and education, the picture would be more clear and article relevant. While the author is doing this research, he can also advise the best mix of Saudi and expat workers as even with 100% saudi employments, there will remain open positions.