Saudi Arabia’s New Labor Reforms Only Address Half of the Problem

MIN READNov 5, 2020 | 22:28 GMT

Foreign workers show their passports as they gather outside an immigration office in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, on Nov. 4, 2013.

(FAYEZ NURELDINE/AFP via Getty Images)

Saudi Arabia’s kafala reforms will increase flexibility in the kingdom’s foreign labor market, but achieving Riyadh’s 2030 Vision plans for a post-oil economy will require improving efficiencies within the Saudi workforce via broader reforms and skills development programs. On Nov. 4, Saudi Arabia’s deputy minister for human resources said the country would begin altering its kafala labor system in March 2021 by loosening restrictions that tie foreign workers to specific employers and contracts.  The changes will enable foreign employees to switch jobs and contracts without having to leave the country and renewing their visas. Foreign workers will also be able to leave the country without obtaining an exit visa from their employer. ...

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