Expats blamed for failure of mobile phone market Saudization

Expats blamed for failure of mobile phone market Saudization

Inspectors check the documents of workers at a mobile phone shop in this file photo.
Inspectors check the documents of workers at a mobile phone shop in this file photo.

By Amr Salam

JEDDAH — The Saudization of the Kingdom’s telecom sector has not been as successful as expected because authorities did not make the necessary studies before implementing the plan and did not give Saudis proper training to take over the huge market, according to experts.

The presence of expats, who are still illegally involved in mobile phone maintenance and sale, has also affected the Saudization drive.

Saudis have asked the Commerce Ministry and municipality to keep a watch on expat traders who are still wandering around exploiting the absence of monitoring authorities.

The expats offer various mobile handsets at reduced prices.

“Rise in rent is another major issue that has affected Saudi entrepreneurs. Some realtors charge SR150,000 per year,” said Hatim Al-Sulaimani, who has opened a new mobile shop in the market.

“I never expected such a high rent,” Al-Sulaimani told Okaz/Saudi Gazette. “It’s not easy for new Saudi traders to pay this exorbitant rent.”

“Shop owners have to meet many other expenses such as license fees and huge electricity bills,” said Al-Sulaimani.

Abdul Rahman Al-Shamrani said that expatriate traders were still in the market despite the warnings given by the authorities.

“Many expatriates provide mobile phone maintenance service from their homes,” he told Okaz/Saudi Gazette.

Al-Shamrani also said that some expats were selling mobile phone devices at prices less than those offered in shops.

Economist Mansour Al-Ghamdi said the Saudization program in the mobile phone market should have been implemented gradually after making necessary studies.

“It was impossible to replace expats with Saudis all of a sudden. We should have allowed Saudis to work with expats for some time to get the necessary experience and overcome difficulties. The program was a failure in terms of training as well as financial and salary support,” he said.


  1. Wow, Great! everything has to be the fault of expats, for saudis unemployment, and their failures in job market.
    Why are those expats still inside the kingdom, Why have they not been given a termination from their telecommunciation jobs to return to their country?
    If they are working from home, they still have saudi sponsors who renew their green cards and take % of their profit from the business.
    So, why not start blaming Saudi sponsors who make money at the expense of expats?
    And many saudis do not pay salaries for months/years, nor give exit visa to many expats, blaming the oil crisis and unpaid salaries form government projects, so, those deseperate expats may have to find some income by working from home.

    It is time to make a clear statement that every failure, every bad economic situation in the country is brought in by some tricky Saudi citizens, neither by the government nor expats .

  2. Expats are charging them high rent. Expats are charging them high licesencing fees. Expats are charging them high electricity fees. Expats are responsible for their lack of training. Expats are responsible for their low skills. Expats are responsible for the failure in financial and salary support.

    Be realistic.

  3. Another misleading headline: “expats blamed…” It is very easy to play blame-game instead of assessing and solving one’s own shortcomings.
    “The presence of expats, who are still illegally involved in mobile phone maintenance and sale, has also affected the Saudization drive.”
    OK, do something to stop the “illegal involvement of expats” and implement full Saudization by reducing huge rent of shop buildings..

    • the fact is most customers are enjoying hypermarket promotions to purchase old models or heading jarir and extra to buy new model cel phones

  4. “was impossible to replace expats with Saudis all of a sudden” . this sudden word is more important . it should be year by year gradual tranisition . And also there are so many sections in retail ,sales, tourism and transporation sections , which can be more easier for tranisitions . anything anywhere “sudden” may not achieve proper result .

  5. This was always doomed. If I was a Saudi businessman employing two expats At 1000Sr each per month and I was clearing 4000SR profit every month and then suddenly by labour costs rise to 6000sr then obviously I will have to close the business. This is exacerbated when the more expensive staff are less skilled than the cheaper ones. How could it work?

  6. WHAT A JOKE 🙂
    An expat working from inside HOME still catching more customers than the OPEN MARKET SHOP ? Come on some one please get me up of the dream.
    I wonder why they will never understand that some locals are at worst when it comes for public dealing.
    Even if you go to buy a mobile from their shop their treatment is as if i am BEGGING for something.
    Is this the way to do a business ?
    Get up please and improve your attitude problems.

    • So true… Even that i’m a local i complain of the same thing.

      Not only that. Also they neglected all of the smartphones and they’re just selling iPhones. So whats the benifit now from going to mobile markets.

      I would rather just to go to extra or the hyper markets and pay extra 50 riyals “if it wasn’t even cheaper” and get the smartphone that i want.

  7. “What a beautiful word” “EXPATS” that follows “BLAME”.
    For everything the authorities are blaming the expats,very good strategy. I believe that the method that the authorities have followed in implementing saudization is totally wrong and absurd and will never be a successful..
    Why the authorities have not held the high rent for the telecom shops for the upside down of saudization in telecom sector?
    “I never expected such a high rent,” Al-Sulaimani told Okaz/Saudi Gazette. “It’s not easy for new Saudi traders to pay this exorbitant rent.”This is a clip from SG.
    So,if the rents are too high for the shops which was increased by the owners of the buildings/shops after the implementation of saudization in telecom sector should be held responsible instead of illogically,unjustly blaming expats.
    Such blames are absurd and earns nothing other than shame.
    Saudization must start from the street cleaning job and then gradually move towards other areas of job market.
    If any one who does not want to work but want luxury,then it is impossible.This is the situation in here unfortunately.
    So,instead of blaming any one,work hard ,be honest and sincere so that you may be blessed by “ALLAH” the almighty.

  8. This is the reason the country is not improving….. Be down to Earth and you’ll see how successful your country will be.

  9. As long as Saudis dont accept their faults and work on correcting them, this will happen. Expats have given their lives for this country and now every ill is attributed to them. What a shame!

  10. Still most respectable Saudi nationals prefer to go shops where expats serve them up to their satisfaction, they don’t like shop with Saudi sales staff.

  11. All said and done, Saudi Arabia is for Saudis, the expats with all due respect are contract workers and more than welcomed to come and help in the development of the country as employee. However, they are not supposed to violate the law by owning or running the businesses, for that is for Saudi citizens. Yes there are initial problems but that is understood as whenever a new concept is launched there are hick ups, which are addresses and resolved. We should neither criticize nor blame any one at this stage, whether it is an expat or a Saudi citizen. I just wonder why the the big chains like Jarrir, Extra, Electro, EMax etc. are not Saudizing.

  12. Seriously, can someone even think like this? Come across a failure and you don’t find a solution – the answer is Blame it on EXPATS.
    The whole world has grown up and matured, follow the pattern and stop pampering yourselves, then surely you will learn.

  13. I really don’t understand why EXPATRIATES are angry whenever they are asked to leave jobs for Saudi’s! SAUDI ARABIA is for Saudis as much as India is for Indians and Pakistan is for Pakistanis! IF the Government decides to employ Saudis in a sector, why are Expats angry? If the industry fails, what is an Expats problem? You are here on temporary work, you will leave and go back to your country soon or later! If a policy is good or bad, it is non of your business, YOU ARE A GUEST HERE!

    Expats … your time in Saudi Arabia is running out. Stop playing silly games and start investing home. Saudi Arabia belongs to SAUDI’S! This is the reality!

    • Malaika Khan: in order to really understand why the expats are angry, please read the report again.
      OK, we agree that Saudi Arabia is for Saudis. What we are against is BLAMING expats for everything under the sky in Saudi Arabia. Telecom industry or whatever, its success or failure as per policy decisions are not coming under our purview. What we object is the unwanted blame-game on expats. Hope you got the point

    • Malaika khan,
      probably you didn’t read the news properly. No one is against Saudization. The whole point here is blaming expats for some policy failure. Any job for Saudis is happily left.

    • Who ever said that expatriates were angry that we were asked to leave jobs for Saudis. Every minute of the day, expatriates work with the complete knowledge that they are at the mercy of their Saudi sponsors and the Saudi Government. We wake up every day well prepared to leave the country if a need may arise.
      The problem is the BLAME GAME the Saudis are playing. We work, blame us; we don’t work, blame us; we sit, blame; stand, blame; eat, blame; something not working, blame; something working well, blame; Like, seriously guys?!?!. I really respect Saudis and the Arab culture. But this is just outrageous. Learn to take responsibilities. Nobody is perfect. Everyone has flaws. Accept that and try to fix yourself rather than playing the blame game.

      May Allaah bless and preserve the Rulership of Saudi Arabia & make it easy for the Saudis to adjust to this downfall in the economy.

    • Well the point is that expats get hired for their skills, hardwork and dedication whereas Saudis get hired because of Nitaqat only. It is so difficult for them to find find jobs ib their very own country when they face competition from outsiders. So everything has to be given to them on a platter and even then they fail and blame expats for it.

  14. Despite the true fact that the Ministry of Labour was trying to accommodate as much as possible young Saudis in this sector, the Telecom sector Saudization was a complete disaster. The problem is any technical job needs determination and willingness to learn from the individual, whether he is Saudi or non-Saudi, it is rather a passion. You won’t find many of the expatriates who graduated from the Technical vocational schools, it was their passion so they were able to do the job.

    We can’t force someone to work for something he is not passionate about it. I am sure that there might be thousands of young Saudi’s ready to learn and work. If we allow them to work with the expatriates at least for 5 years, the MOL simply can solve this issue gradually.

  15. I bought a phone from my country from AMAZON since the service was not good here. So may be I am to be blamed that I dint find the service good and purchased the phone from my home country.

  16. Dear Sir,

    I went to mobile market for the cover of my 8 inch tablet. I saw many shops inside a hall in jubail. …all young people tossed me from one counter to another….but no one found the cover…one ‘Entrepreneur’ called me. Then he said jokingly that he has paper cover and took my tab and started covering the tablet while other Entrepreneurs laughing at me. I was confused who is fool here. I will never go to those shops again. My friend had similar experience.
    Leave about business, these youngsters, if they behave in this insulting way, they are tarnishing the image of Muslims.
    Thank you for blaming us.

  17. Saudi youths need training for doing like this business..this shop running not easy as eating..there is so many headaches

  18. The best and easiest thing is to blame and get yourself relieved of any pain. If expats are the pain and cause of failure, send them back home,, see if the market flourishes.

  19. I think the main problem is lack of market study before implementing this Saudization. Expats did profitable business in this sector with all this hurdles – High rent, electricity bill, licence fee, misbehaviour some of the customers etc.. They approached their customers with polite manner that help them to get continuous business.

    two weeks before I spent around 1.30 hours in a mobile shop in Palestine road, Jeddah to get a answer that they are not able to repair such type of a mobile phone. The funny thing is not that one. In that time span I witnessed more ten occasions of verbal and physical battle between the customer and the shop owners. One of the customer throw his mobile phone to a shop owner and another occasion the salesman in the counter push a arab expat, accompanied with his family, out of the shop.

    Behaviour of the people need to be changed a lot. Otherwise they will not purchase from the same shop again. That is why expats still getting business even from their home.

  20. Wow what a joke.
    Why expats are responsible for this failure? Mostly Saudis dont know how to talk to the customers. They are not trained to attract customers, they sit like a boss in the shop not like a sales man.
    They know nothing about business.
    A very valuable advice for you is, if you want to kick out expats from the Kingdom you must trained your people to take over the expats.

  21. Training to do something starts from home. First of all government should ban visas for maids, house drivers, and house servants…..

  22. Sir kindly don’t blame the expatriates again. They were the to begin the business era in KSA. I have lived for many years here and I can tell from my small observation let the expatriates help in building your nation don’t eliminate them. The more you are trying to remove them you people are finding it more distressful. So many expats are there who will eagerly help Saudis to learn but the thing is you dont want to learn from expats because that will make you question about the value of their dignity in your country.
    I love and respect this country as much as my homeland but your attitude towards us is so suffocating that the sufferings of expats are beyond explanation.

  23. Recently i went to a mobile phone shop. I asked the Saudi sales person the price of an SD card. The man had to call an expat standing outside his shop to come inside and tell me the price of that SD card. Needless to say the expat was the person who had been managing his shop for the last 7 years. People need to stop blaming others for their ineptitude and incompetencies.

  24. I don’t understand now only they are realizing the high rents, license fee, bills and other expenses are high. None of the authority ever highlighted this issue when an expat was paying. Removing expat completely is not the solution to create the jobs for locals. Provide the opportunities for investors, bring the investment and improve the Nitaqat (Saudiazation) system will give bright future of KSA In Shaa Allah

  25. To blame the expats is ridiculous. We have commented previously many times that it may take some time only. Surprisingly you are accepting the failure by blaming the expats. It is a lame excuse only !!

  26. So expats were not charged high rentals
    Expats were not charged high licence fees.
    Its only that the poor locals are being charged.
    What a pity!!!!

  27. The most important reason for failure of mobile market has been omitted in the above article. The expat shopkeepers used to purchase used mobiles from all and sell it to others, which enables many to purchase brand new mobiles. Like many expats, I am used to replacing my used mobile periodically with a new type, because by shelling out roughly half the amount I can buy a new mobile. Before my departure one month ago, I tried to sell my two Note-4 mobiles and buy new ones. Not a single Saudi shop owner was ready to buy or exchange. I checked if any Expats are present in shops but there were none. I therefore retained my old mobiles. It is wrong that expats are still active in mobile market bringing failure to mobile market, because none is operating, in view of deportation and other penalties and they have almost moved to Dubai. I suggest the authorities to look into the important aspect of exchange of used mobiles or its purchase by Saudis for success of mobile market, as a majority of poor expats purchase used mobiles.

  28. Im sorry but so far most Saudi’s r incapable of services I had to wait hours for their services. Even after the serviceman got 3 of his saudi collegues they still cudnt get the work done. After which they had to call a Bangladeshi to diagnose my phone. It took him like 10 to 15mins to find the problem and repair it.

  29. This is the problem of mindset in Saudis. Saudi schools need to change their education pattern from class 1. Teach at the minimum one Foreign language. English. Teach Saudi youngsters work place discipline. Teach them from the young age that one has to earn his own bread by facing the outside challenges. There is no free meal any where. Instead of blaming others, try to look within yourselves and do a self assessment.

  30. Readers,

    With all due respect, start packing … by the year 2020, 80% of expats won’t be here. Then Saudis whether competent or incompetent will manage their country. Bangalis back to Bangladesh, Indians to India and Pakis to Pakistan!

    You come to a foreign land on your own choice and you endlessly criticize the people and country!! Why don’t you just stay in your country and blah blah blah over there? Bangladesh, India and Pakistan have their own disasters and you are here talking like you came from heaven!!! Soon, you will all go back to your countries!! Try getting your own technicians to repair your mobile elsewhere….

  31. I would love to see a statistic on this “revenues generated from the cell phones industry pre vs. post saudization”. Numbers don’t lie (though the one entering them might).

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