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Firing squad: Kuwaitization, Saudization, driving expats out of jobs

Losing jobs due to COVID-19 threats to economic activity is one thing. Being fired because you are an expat is another

Kuwait will terminate the employment of 400 expatriates currently working at the Ministry of Public Works 50% percent of expatriates working for Kuwaiti subcontractors will be laid off in the next 3 months Saudi’s industrial sector has fired more than 1,900 foreign workers and hired almost 500 Saudi citizens

Losing jobs due to COVID-19 threats to economic activity is one thing. Being fired because you are an expat is another.

But that’s exactly what awaits foreign employees particularly in Kuwait and Saudi Arabia.

Kuwait fires expats, hires locals

Kuwait will terminate the employment of the remaining 400 expatriates currently working at the Ministry of Public Works. 

Termination letters will target a group of employees who hold administrative, legal, and technical positions in various departments, the Kuwait Times newspaper reported on Saturday.

“The original plan was to terminate expatriate employees gradually, and the next batch was supposed to happen by year’s end,” Kuwait Times reported, quoting unnamed sources who spoke with the Arabic-language Kuwaiti newspaper Rai Daily.

The new terminations come weeks after 150 other employees were removed from their positions as the government moves forward with its plans to limit the number of foreign expatriate workers in Kuwait.

The combined 550 expatriate employees made up the entire expat workforce in both the Ministry of Public Works and Public Authority for Roads and Transportation.

Read: Kuwait to slash 70% of expat jobs in favor of Kuwaitis in private sector?

Foreign employees made up 5% of the total staff in both government entities. About 70% of Kuwait’s population comprises of foreign expatriates.

Authorities announced in August the intention to deport hundreds of thousands of foreign workers from the country.

It is expected that more than 50% percent of expatriates working for Kuwaiti subcontractors will be laid off in the next 3 months as Kuwaitization gathers momentum, the Arab Times reported.

Meanwhile, all expatriates working directly in ministries will be terminated and many of them have already been shifted to companies which are subcontractors for government ministries, the report claimed.

In contrast, the Kuwait Oil Company (KOC) revealed that 662 people were appointed among the new Kuwaiti graduates and 3,780 jobs created over the last fiscal year 2019/2020, as per Al-Anba daily.

The total number of Kuwaiti employees in KOC until the end of the fiscal year amounted to 9,500 employees out of the 11,550 total. 

The CEO of the Kuwait National Petroleum Company (KNPC) Waleed Al-Bader revealed that the company has employed 217 new employees, including 192 Kuwaitis, during the 2019/2020 fiscal year, as part of aspirations to be an attractive institution for national workers, reports Al-Anba daily.

800 employees have completed KNPC’s structured work training program (SOJT) this year.  

Saudization, a similar story

Saudi’s industrial sector has fired more than 1,900 foreign workers and hired almost 500 Saudi citizens in a drive to replace its large expat workforce with the Kingdom’s nationals.

In a bid to localize 75% of top managerial positions in private sector companies, the Saudi Shoura Council is seeking to amend a clause of an article of the labor law pertaining to the localization of jobs, Okaz reported recently.

The amendment to the clause would require the private sector to draw up plans to attract and train young Saudi men and women and groom them within a specified period to ensure a smooth and systematic replacement at the top level.

 “Saudization has always been a fundamental component of Saudi Arabia Vision 2030 and will continue to be,” he said.  Tom Watson, Partner for the Page Executive Saudi Practice, told ConstructionWeekonline. 

Saudi Minister of Human Resources and Social Development Ahmed Al-Rajhi has inaugurated the mrn.sa platform to document flexible work contracts between employees and employers.

Al-Rajhi said that the flexible work program would increase the number of local cadres integrated into the job market and seeks to empower male and female citizens and to help the private sector boost Saudization.

Read: Saudization in full gear: Thousands of expat jobs are disappearing

The program aims to increase flexible jobs and help Saudis integrate into the job market and enhance their skills and expertise to enable them to later become full-time employees.

Today, some four years after Vision 2030 was launched, various sectors are seeing a rise in the percentage of Saudis working, with more than half of the Kingdom’s technology sector now occupied by nationals.

The number of Saudi Arabians in the technology sector now stands at around 52%, with 21% being women.

The Saudi Press Agency reported that “The percentage of Saudis rose to 20.4% of the total workforce in the private sector during the first quarter of 2020 compared to 20.2 % during the same period last year. That percentage was 18.61 % in 2018, and 16.4% in 2017. 

The Eastern Province stood first in the Saudization with 24% and followed by Riyadh with 20.72%, Makkah 20.46%, Madinah  18.14%, and Asir 16%.

Finance and insurance were the highest economic activities where the highest level of Saudization 83% was achieved in the private sector. This was followed by activities of international organizations 70.71%, mining and quarries 62%, education 53% and information and communications 48.8%.