New ‘Saudization’ labor initiatives aim to encourage startups 

Would-be Saudi entrepreneurs interact with experts and coaches during an entrepreneurship event in Riyadh last year. (File photo)
Updated 08 February 2019
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New ‘Saudization’ labor initiatives aim to encourage startups 

  • The initiatives will feature new rules around visas, and will also seek to reduce unemployment figures
  • New Saudi employees will be counted by the Nitaqat program immediately, improving their company’s rating faster

RIYADH: A number of new services will be launched to encourage the development of small and medium enterprises (SMEs) in Saudi Arabia, and increase the number of Saudi nationals in the workforce.

The initiatives, part of an agreement signed by the Ministry of Labor and Social Development and the General Authority of Small and Medium Enterprises (Monshaat) will feature new rules around visas, and will also seek to reduce unemployment figures.

In future, up to nine work visas could be issued immediately to new enterprises managed by full-time entrepreneurs, while there will also be a one-year grace period for registration with the “Nitaqat Saudization” scheme. 

“Saudization” is the process through which the government plans to increase employment of Saudi nationals in the Kingdom’s private sector, using the Nitaqat system to rate companies based on the numbers they employ. 

It is currently being overseen by the Saudi Arabian Monetary Authority, which also aims to assist startups by providing easy access to all government services.

Under the initiative, new Saudi employees will be counted by the Nitaqat program immediately, improving their company’s rating faster. 

The initiative aims to create about 51,000 jobs, with 24,000 firms expected to benefit from the services it will offer. 

It is also expected to add about SR12 billion ($3.2 billion) to the nation’s gross domestic product over the next three years.

“We aim to convert job seekers into entrepreneurs,” said Labor and Social Development Minister Ahmad Al-Rajhi. 

 

Entertainment

The latest agreement follows others between the Ministry of Labor and Social Development and other ministries, including the departments for health, housing and communications, to improve the employment prospects of Saudi nationals. 

There are 68 initiatives in total, 40 of which have already been introduced. 

The rest of the initiatives are due to be launched by the end of March, he added.

Monshaat has signed a separate cooperation agreement with the General Entertainment Authority (GEA) to boost the local entertainment sector. 

Dr. Majid Al-Qassabi, trade and investment minister and chairman of Monshaat, and Turki Al-Sheikh, chairman of the GEA’s board of directors, signed it in the presence of Monshaat Gov. Saleh Al-Rasheed and GEA CEO Amr Banajh.

The agreement includes joint workshops with entrepreneurs and SMEs, and a framework for attracting investors in the entertainment sector.

Al-Rasheed said the agreement is in line with Monshaat’s desire to develop and support SMEs, and to increase their contribution to gross domestic product (GDP) to 35 percent by 2030.

The current lack of local companies in the entertainment sector presents an opportunity for entrepreneurs, and for investors to facilitate these enterprises.

The few local entertainment establishments have minimal experience, putting them at high risk in the face of entry by experienced foreign enterprises.

Under the Vision 2030 reform plan, the entertainment sector is developing rapidly, and consumers’ expectations are rising due to the organization of many renowned international shows in the Kingdom. This may pose a challenge for Saudi entrepreneurs.


Two Saudis among 31 foreigners killed in Easter Day attacks in Sri Lanka

Updated 7 min 44 sec ago
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Two Saudis among 31 foreigners killed in Easter Day attacks in Sri Lanka

  • Mohamed Jafar and Hany Osman, cabin crew with Saudi Arabian Airlines, were in transit and staying at one of the three hotels targeted
  • Saudi Ambassador Abdulnasser Al-Harthi says officials are awaiting the results of DNA tests

COLOMBO: Two Saudis were among 31 foreigners killed in a string of Easter Sunday suicide bombings in Sri Lanka, the Sri Lankan Foreign Ministry said on Monday, a day after the devastating attacks on hotels and churches killed at least 290 people and wounded nearly 500.

The extent of the carnage began to emerge as information from government officials, relatives and media reports offered the first details of those who had died. Citizens from at least eight countries, including the United States, were killed, officials said.

Among them were Saudis Mohammed Jafar and Hany Osman. They worked as cabin crew on Saudi Arabian Airlines, and were in transit and staying at one of the three hotels that were hit.

Saudi Ambassador Abdulnasser Al-Harthi said that officials are awaiting the results of DNA tests on the two Saudi victims, and only after these are received will their names be confirmed.

Cabinet spokesman Rajitha Senaratne said the Sri Lankan government believes the vast scale of the attacks, which clearly targeted the minority Christian community and outsiders, suggested the involvement of an international terrorism network.

“We don’t think a small organization can do all that,” he said. “We are now investigating international support for them and their other links — how they produced the suicide bombers and bombs like this.”

The attacks mostly took place during church services or when hotel guests were sitting down to breakfast. In addition to the two Saudis, officials said the foreign victims included one person from Bangladesh, two from China, eight from India, one from France, one from Japan, one from The Netherlands, one from Portugal, one from Spain, two from Turkey, six from the UK, two people with US and UK dual nationalities, and two with Australian and Sri Lankan dual nationalities.

Three of Danish billionaire Anders Holch Povlsen’s four children were among the foreigners who were killed, a spokesman for the family confirmed. Povlsen is the wealthiest man in Denmark, the largest landowner in Scotland and owns the largest share of British online fashion and cosmetics retailer Asos.

Two Turkish engineers working on a project in Sri Lanka also died in the attacks, the English-language Daily Sabah newspaper reported. Turkey’s foreign minister Mevlut Cavusoglu gave their names as Serhan Selcuk Narici and Yigit Ali Cavus.

Fourteen foreign nationals remain unaccounted for, the Sri Lankan foreign ministry said, adding that they might be among unidentified victims at the Colombo Judicial Medical Officer’s morgue.

Seventeen foreigners injured in the attacks were still being treated at the Colombo National Hospital and a private hospital in the city, while others had been discharged after treatment.