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Localize These Professions

Localize These Professions

Okaz, Saudi Arabia, June 26

Human Resources and Social Development Minister Ahmed Al-Rajhi recently issued a directive to “localize” a number of professions and roles and ensure that they are filled by Saudi nationals. For example, according to the new decision, 60% of airline pilots and 100% of co-pilots employed by Saudi carriers must be Saudi nationals. It is unreasonable that Saudi pilots will be unemployed because they cannot find work while Saudi companies employ pilots from other countries. The list contains other professions in the area of health, transportation, logistics, and vehicle inspection. Along with the directive, the ministry issued procedural guidelines informing employers of the new regulations, ways to calculate the quotas, and penalties that will be imposed upon violators. While the move received some pushback, there is nothing wrong with a government seeking to provide priority in employment to its own citizens over citizens of other nations. The goal ultimately is to reduce national unemployment rates and provide greater opportunities for citizens to reach social and financial stability. Saudis, both men and women, have demonstrated their competence in carrying out a wide variety of jobs and professions. There is no reason not to help them find employment opportunities within their own country. Of course, the goal is not to train our local workforce in all the skills and expertise needed to fuel our economy. Some reliance on external labor and foreign experts is certainly helpful and even healthy. However, there are many jobs that currently rely on the employment of foreign citizens, which could easily be given to Saudi nationals. These professions should be localized. –Khaled Al-Sulaiman (translated by Asaf Zilberfarb)

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