Brokers threaten Madinah date market

Updated 11 March 2014
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Brokers threaten Madinah date market

Merchants at the central market in Madinah, who usually experience high demand for dates during the Umrah pilgrimage season, are suffering a lower turnout of customers thanks to the advent of market brokers.
“Market brokers encourage customers to buy dates directly from date producing farms and not through our stalls and stores,” said Ahmad Al-Saidi, a store owner. “Pilgrims from all walks of life used to rush to the market, but many have since been persuaded to visit date farms before coming our way.”
“These brokers approach hotels and pilgrim residences in an effort to promote visits to these farms. They even make agreements with hotel managers and the owners of furnished apartments to take pilgrims on a tour of these farms,” he said. “The dates they see there are actually frozen and not fresh off the land.”
Khaled Al-Mitairfi, another store owner at the central market, said that these brokers are mostly foreigners. “Some brokers offer truck drivers commission to bring pilgrims to the farms,” Al-Mitairfi said.
Store owners have warned that some stores might be forced to shut down because of these brokers. “There is a lack of control on these farms. Illegal expatriates work in this sector without proper licensing,” he said. “Not only do these brokers threaten market revenue, they also pose a threat to customer health. Frozen dates are usually low quality because they are usually stored in refrigerators after being transferred from other farms.”
Stall owners have called on authorities to introduce measures to curb this phenomenon and put an end to their low profit margin ordeal.
Arab News toured the market, situated close to the Prophet’s Mosque, and found variations in the price of dates.
The price of Ajwah, a high quality date, ranges between SR45 and SR50 a kilogram. Anbarah, another high quality date, costs between SR40 and SR50 a kilogram. The Al-Safwi type costs around SR15 per kilogram. Umrah pilgrims also prefer Al-Siqi, which costs SR15 per kilogram.
“Pakistanis, Indonesians, Egyptians and Gulf residents buy their dates from the central market,” one store owner said.


Saudi Arabia plans to create 561,000 jobs under new digital employment initiative

Updated 24 April 2019
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Saudi Arabia plans to create 561,000 jobs under new digital employment initiative

  • Qiwa program aims to achieve the Vision 2030 goal of reducing unemployment rate to 7 percent

RIYADH: Saudi Arabia has revealed ambitious plans to create more than 561,000 private-sector jobs by 2023 as part of a new digital era for the Kingdom’s labor market.

Minister of Labor and Social Development Ahmad Al-Rajhi made the announcement at the launch of the Qiwa online platform, which aims to combine all the country’s employment services under one electronic roof.

Through digitalization, the Ministry of Labor and Social Development hopes to not only boost job opportunities for Saudi men and women, but also improve workplace efficiency and productivity, and attract international investment.

Al-Rajhi said: “The ministry has entered into partnerships and agreements to settle more than 561,000 job opportunities in the private sector until 2023,” and the minister added that 45,000 Saudis had entered the labor market in the last three months.

The new labor force platform will consolidate employment-related e-services already offered to job seekers, employees and employers and plans are in the pipeline to plug a further 71 services into the system.

The Qiwa program aims to provide Saudi government officials with a data mine of statistical information to tackle business challenges facing employers and employees, help create new job opportunities, and achieve the Vision 2030 goal of reducing the country’s unemployment rate to 7 percent. Another key objective is to strategically enhance the Kingdom’s business environment to make it more attractive to local and international investors.

A ministry statement issued to Arab News, said: “The Qiwa platform will have an impact on motivating investors. It will also re-engineer policies and procedures for all services provided to individuals and enterprises on a strong platform that will make a quantum leap in the business world and turn the Saudi market into an attractive market for opportunities and potential for competencies.

“The services are provided in both Arabic and English in order to enable foreign investors to benefit from the services of a strong platform,” the statement added.

The e-services include programs to encourage Saudis to access jobs in their locality by improving the workplace environment and making it more appealing to men and women.

The Kingdom’s public sector is quickly adapting to international standards and labor market demands by digitalizing services, while the ministry is using the latest business management methods to help public organizations increase the competency and productivity of workers while creating a competitive labor market that can partner with the private sector.