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Taking Another Stab at Saudization

Sep 12, 2016 | 09:01 GMT
Taking Another Stab at Saudization
A man observes as the inaugural Bab Rizq Jameel, a job fair for young Saudis, gets underway in Riyadh. To combat high unemployment levels -- especially among the country's youth -- the Saudi government is requiring some companies to employ only locals.
(JORDAN PIX/ Getty Images)

Undaunted by the middling results of past attempts, the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia has undertaken a new campaign in its decadeslong project to replace expatriate workers with Saudis, a process known as "Saudization." The latest initiative arrived at its first benchmark during the week of Sept. 5, when the country's telecom retail sector -- comprising anything related to the sale or maintenance of cellphones -- reached its deadline for achieving "complete Saudization." Many shops did not fare well during the six-month period allotted for the process; some business owners shuttered their operations, while others were fined. As they investigate how successful the sector was in implementing the new regulations in the coming months, authorities from the Saudi labor ministry will likely uncover many more cases of noncompliance, despite hefty penalties (up to two years' imprisonment and a $365,000 fine). After all, Saudi employees are far costlier than their foreign peers,...

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