RIYADH, 9 April 2003 — The Labor and Social Affairs Ministry has instructed banks to Saudize 9,771 jobs currently held by expatriates. A circular to this effect has been sent to all banks in the Kingdom.
Deputy Minister of Labor Ahmad Al-Mansour told Arab News the banks should complete the process of Saudization as soon as possible. However, he explained that expatriates with high professional skills holding technical jobs could be exempted from the regulation for the time being.
Currently, a total of 19,219 Saudis are working in the banking sector, accounting for 66 percent of its work force. The rate of Saudization ranges from 58 percent to 75 percent. The National Commercial Bank leads with Saudis accounting for 75 percent of its work force. It is followed by Riyad Bank (70 percent), the Arab National Bank and Saudi American Bank (69 percent each), the Saudi British Bank (68 percent), Saudi Hollandi Bank (65 percent) and Bank Al-Jazeera (62 percent). Al-Rajhi Banking and Investment Corporation and the Saudi Investment Bank have 60 percent Saudi staff each.
The deputy minister said Saudi employees should be given higher salaries than expatriates to motivate them to continue in their jobs. He said the target for Saudization of the private sector had been kept flexible. While the target was 30 percent in mid-level jobs, at least 10 percent of construction, municipal and sewage workers as well as welders and electricians should be Saudis.
The ministry would not issue any visa for secretarial jobs, since Saudis should be hired for this category under the new regulation, he said. “We have set up a database for these categories of workers in the ministry,” he added.
Meanwhile, a senior banking executive told Arab News that one of the factors responsible for the relatively low rate of Saudization in some banks is that they provide remittance services to expatriates. This requires the presence of Indian, Pakistani and Filipino expatriates to interact with those communities.
As part of the Saudization drive in the banking sector, the SAMA Institute of Banking has introduced special banking courses. They include short-term courses in English and specialized courses dealing with credit card fraud and ATM card transactions.