Ever wondered why there are so many expats in Saudi Arabia? Any potential job-seeker looking forward to working in Saudi Arabia must know this important information. :-?
Despite its immense oil wealth, Saudi Arabia is still a developing country. Oil is still the major source of income, though there are several other non-oil industries too. But in terms of revenue, oil is still the Numero Uno cash cow for this country. The past 50 years has seen a dramatic and unbelievable jump in the economy of the kingdom. This has resulted in a huge demand for workers. The relatively lesser population of locals in the earlier years (this is now rapidly changing) resulted in Saudi Arabia throwing its doors open to expatriates to build their economy. You will find people from virtually every country in the world working in Saudi Arabia.
The sudden wealth and oil boom resulted in a very lavish lifestyle for the locals. The effect of this was the emergence of a new generation of Saudis, with a lot of money, but with inadequate expertise. With the population booming, the Saudi government had a problem of providing employment to its citizens. Naturally, the target was expatriates who were perceived to be taking away the jobs of the locals. Hence, the 'Saudization' program began, which literally means replacing the expatriates with Saudi nationals :-SS
The first focus was on government organizations, which have been almost 100% saudi-ized, barring a few low level positions. It has now become mandatory that companies in the private sector must also have a certain minimum number of Saudi nationals as their employees. The problem with this law (for the private sector) was not providing jobs to the locals, but not finding the right persons to do skilled jobs. Hence, all administrative staff are usually Saudi nationals, while all the technical work as well as the lower level positions like office staff, etc., are all still filled with expatriates.
The government jobs are already more than 99% Saudized, but still one could see quite a substantial number of expatriates working in government offices, particularly in lower levels. How is this possible? Well, the secret is that they are not government employees, but contractors. Many petrochemical industries follow this route because on paper they could show that they have achieved the Saudization quota, but in reality, the work is being done by contractors who are not directly on the rolls of the company ~X( . Sounds strange, isn't it? But that's the way things work here.
The bottom line is that if you have the right skills, if you are really efficient, then there is no reason for worry, because you will still have a job but only your employer would be a contractor.
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