Fatima Al Dubais
DAMMAM – The Shoura Council has presented a proposal to the ministries of labor and municipal and rural affairs for closing down all grocery stores in neighborhoods and restrict retailer licenses to big shops that are capable of employing more than one Saudi man or woman, Shoura Council member Dr. Muhammad Al-Khineizi has said.
“There is no benefit in having so many grocery stores in one street or neighborhood. Moreover, feminization cannot be implemented on such shops due their small size. These shops rely on workers from abroad, which leads to an increase in foreign recruitment at a time the state is striving to cut down the number of expatriate workers in the country and raise the Saudization level,” Al-Khineizi said.
He said the Ministry of Labor has agreed to study the proposal, and if the government finds it feasible “nothing will stop it from being implemented.” He said the majority of licenses for small groceries are in the name of Saudi women, but the actual owners are male public servants who are banned from trading activities and cannot get licenses for such operations. These men take out licenses under their wives’ names and employ foreigners to run the shops, he added.
Al-Khineizi said the big retail shops have many advantages and have to follow several criteria, as they have to cope with competition. They display goods in a more organized way to attract customers. They also store foodstuffs in an appropriate and hygienic way.
In addition, when the number of big commercial centers increases, they are more likely to provide jobs for Saudis, he said.