Labor shortage hits farm harvest

Updated 14 November 2013
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Labor shortage hits farm harvest

Rain signals the start of the harvest season in Hail, Jouf, Baha and other areas of the Kingdom, but the farming sector is facing an acute shortage of farm laborers in the aftermath of the crackdown on visa violators.
The harvest season is time-bound and the scarcity of farm hands is delaying the process.
Additionally, imports of fresh produce from neighboring countries have fallen, resulting in a rise in prices.
Expatriates have dominated the farming sector in the Kingdom for years but because of the recent clampdown on illegal workers, it is becoming difficult to procure enough laborers to work on the farms.
Farming is a demanding occupation and is mainly done by the foreign labor force, which lives on the farms itself. Controlling the irrigation system, spraying pesticide and keeping a vigil on birds are only a few of the challenges of the farming sector.
Most expatriate workers who arrived in rural areas to work on farms escaped from their sponsors and moved to the large cities of the Kingdom such as Jeddah, Riyadh and Dammam to work in the more lucrative construction sector.
Farm-related sectors have also been adversely affected by the scarcity of manpower.
Many workshops for tractor repairs, water pumps and shops selling landscaping equipment and water supply pipes have closed down.
Mohammad Sabiruddin, an Indian expatriate in Hail who has been manning a mechanical workshop dealing in farming equipment for the past 32 years, told Arab News that the harvest season is dull because most workshops are closed and the workers are staying away from work.
Mohammed Javed, a Pakistani expatriate who works on a vegetable farm in Tabuk said: “There is a shortage of labor so we can’t do a lot of farming activity even though this is the peak harvest time.”


Saudi women at the wheel: the first 24 hours

Shoura Council member Lina Almaeena getting ready to driver her car as Saudi Arabia lifted the ban on women driving iib Saturday midnight. (AN photo by Huda Bashatah)
Updated 24 June 2018
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Saudi women at the wheel: the first 24 hours

  • The General Security has already reported that it will be providing the required provisions for female drivers in Saudi Arabia.
  • Private insurance company Najm, in partnership with the General Department of Traffic, has hired 40 women and trained them to respond to road accidents involving female drivers.

JEDDAH:  Women around the Kingdom have turned the ignition in their cars for the first time on their home soil and hit the roads throughout the country. They have gone on social media to express their joy at this monumental occasion which has officially changed the course of their lives. 

Saudi Shoura Council member Lina Almaeena was among the very first women to drive in the Kingdom as soon as the clock struck midnight. 

Women in their cars enthusiastically and wholeheartedly cheered on their fellow female drivers on this memorable night. 

“I feel proud, I feel dignified and I feel liberated, said Almaeena.

She told Arab News that the event was changing her life by “facilitating it, making it more comfortable, making it more pleasant, and making it more stress-free.”

Almaeena urges all drivers to follow the traffic and road safety rules. “What’s making me anxious is the misconduct of a lot of the drivers, the male drivers. Unfortunately they’re not as disciplined as they should be. Simple things such as changing lanes and using your signals — this is making me anxious.”

Almaeena highlighted the significance of being a defensive driver. “I’m confident: I’ve driven all around the world when I travel, especially when I’m familiar with the area. It’s really mainly how to be a defensive driver because you have to be.”

On how society is adapting to this major change, Almaeena said: “Tomorrow is the first day, mentally and psychologically it already had that shift. As I mentioned, it’s a paradigm shift. In perception and how they view women, their capabilities — as equal partners. 

“Mentally it’s already there, and physically we will see — as we start — more and more encouragement for both men and women. Even some of the women who weren’t feeling comfortable about driving, it’s going to be encouraging for them, in a live demonstration and evidence that women can do it.” 

As roads around Saudi Arabia have been inhabited by a new breed of drivers, how has this affected the traffic flow in Saudi Arabia?

 “As of 12 a.m., the implementation of the Supreme Court order to enable women to drive and the implementation of traffic regulations to both men and women is officially in effect," said Col. Sami Al-Shwairkh, the official spokesman for General Security in the Kingdom. "The security and traffic status on all roads and areas around the Kingdom have been reported as normal. There have not been any records from our monitoring of any unusual occurrences on the road throughout the Kingdom.” 

To commemorate this occasion, as seen in the pictures circulating on social media, traffic policemen were handing roses to female drivers early on Sunday.

The General Security has already reported that it will be providing the required provisions for female drivers in Saudi Arabia.

Private insurance company Najm, in partnership with the General Department of Traffic, has hired 40 women and trained them to respond to road accidents involving female drivers.

The General Directorate of Traffic has completed all preparations to employ women on the country’s traffic police force.