Last month, the Ministry of Labor and Social Development notified owners of gold and jewelry shops to conform to the Council of Ministers’ decision issued in 2007 about nationalizing the gold and jewelry sector. The notification came after the ministry noticed that owners did not abide fully by the decision.
Khalid Aba Al-Khail, spokesman for the Saudi Ministry of Labor and Social Development, said that the deadline for gold and jewelry shop owners to nationalize salesperson positions would be in two weeks. He also made it clear on his Twitter account that implementing the decision would be followed by the nationalization of other sectors as per a plan approved two months ago.
Mohammed Jameel Azouz, deputy chairman of the precious metal and gemstones committee at the Jeddah Chamber of Commerce and Industry (JCCI), asked the ministry to consider that jewelry businesspeople are going through hard times. He said they have conducted several training courses for Saudis to provide them with the skills needed in the gold market, but they found this field “unappealing” for Saudis for several reasons, such as the desire of young professionals to find secure jobs in the government sector.
“Some of the guys that we trained left their jobs for scholarship programs to complete their higher education,” Azouz told Arab News.
This, according to Azouz, will affect the process, as many businesspeople will find it difficult to cut their overheads. “In Jeddah, we have some 330 gold and jewelry shops, and I personally expect that 30 percent of these shops will close. The owners will invest their money elsewhere. Others will cut a number of branches,” he added.
Azouz claimed that young Saudi people are unenthusiastic about working in the gold and jewelry sector because, for example, a pickpocket or loss of an item can cost the salesperson his or her entire salary for the month. He said he supports all nationalization decisions, but demanded that they equally consider the interests of both jobseekers and employers.
“When the decision was first approved in 2007, it appeared to be inapplicable, and that is why shop owners did not take it seriously. After that long period of ignoring the decision, the ministry is asking us to nationalize the jobs in two months.”