Saudi Arabia to cut reliance on foreign workers in jewelry sector

People stand outside jewellery stores in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, in this November 12, 2017 photo. (REUTERS)
Updated 27 December 2017

Saudi Arabia to cut reliance on foreign workers in jewelry sector

RIYADH: In a major move to cut reliance on foreign workers, seven administrative regions of the Kingdom have announced their commitment to the localization of the gold and jewelry market.
The move is in response to the decision by the Ministry of Labor and Social Development two weeks ago to encourage localization, Khalid Aba Al-Khail, a ministry spokesman said in an exclusive statement to Arab News on Monday.
The regions are Qasim, Tabuk, Najran, Baha, Asir, Northern Border, and Jazan, according to a Saudi Press Agency (SPA) report. The seven regions, out of the total 13 administrative regions in the Kingdom, have geared themselves to hire and train Saudis to work in stores. An estimated 35,000 expatriates currently work in 6,000 gold and jewelry shops across the country.
Aba Al-Khail said labor inspectors had carried out 5,960 inspections of stores targeted to be localized in coordination with other relevant government agencies. Some 210 violations had been detected so far, he said.
The decision to localize gold and jewelry shops comes within the framework of the “region-oriented localization” program, which is being adopted by the Ministry of the Interior, Ministry of Labor, and governorates in collaboration with the Ministry of Municipal and Rural Affairs, Ministry of Commerce and Investment, Public Security, and Passport Department.
Aba Al-Khail said that 12 business activities have been fully localized in the Northern Border region.
He said the Labor Ministry would provide support in areas including training and qualification to prepare youths in business activities targeted for localization through the e-portal He said the ministry would organize job forums to achieve harmonization between employers and job seekers and provide all essential support to the local jewelry industry.
Asked about the impact of localization, Anzar A. Islam, who owns a gold shop in Riyadh, said “the Kingdom ranks among the top five countries in terms of gold consumption, and hence the Saudization of the gold and jewelry sector will go a long way in providing employment to young Saudi men and women.” He said that the “majority of jewelry shops have employed Saudis well before the Dec. 3 deadline given by the ministry.”
“But there is a need to check cover-up businesses (tasattur) in the jewelry sector to ensure localization in true spirit and practice,” said Ozair Ghazali, an expatriate who has been working in the jewelry industry for the past 25 years.

High-level investment forum aims to further boost business between Saudi Arabia and Japan

Updated 18 June 2019

High-level investment forum aims to further boost business between Saudi Arabia and Japan

  • Japan is one of Saudi Arabia’s most important economic partners

TOKYO: More than 300 government, investment and industry leaders on Monday took part in a high-level gathering aimed at further boosting business opportunities between Saudi Arabia and Japan.

The Saudi Arabian General Investment Authority (SAGIA) welcomed key figures from the public and private sectors to the Saudi-Japan Vision 2030 Business Forum, held in Tokyo.

Hosted in partnership with the Japan External Trade Organization (JETRO), the conference focused on the creation of investment opportunities in strategic sectors of the Kingdom. Delegates also discussed key reforms currently underway to enable easier market access for foreign companies.

Speaking at the event, Saudi Economy and Planning Minister Mohammed Al-Tuwaijri, said: “Today’s forum is a testimony to the success of the strategic direction set by the Saudi-Japanese Vision 2030 two years ago, which seeks to drive private-sector involvement, both by partnering with public-sector entities.”

SAGIA Gov. Ibrahim Al-Omar said: “At SAGIA, we have been working on creating a more attractive and favorable business environment in Saudi Arabia, which is making it easier for foreign companies to access opportunities in the Kingdom.”

Japan is one of Saudi Arabia’s most important economic partners. It is the Kingdom’s second-largest source of foreign capital and third-biggest trading partner, with total trade exceeding $39 billion.

JETRO president, Yasushi Akahoshi, said: “Saudi-Japan Vision 2030 has made great progress since it was first announced. Under this strategic initiative, the number of cooperative projects between our two countries has nearly doubled, from 31 to 61, and represents a diverse range of sectors and stakeholders.”

Since 2016, the Saudi government has delivered 45 percent of more than 500 planned reforms, including the introduction of 100 percent foreign ownership rights, enhancing legal infrastructure and offering greater protection for shareholders.

As a result, the Kingdom has climbed international competitiveness and ease-of-doing-business rankings, with foreign direct investment inflows increasing by 127 percent in 2018 and the number of new companies entering Saudi Arabia rising by 70 percent on a year-on-year basis in the first quarter of 2019.