JEDDAH, 15 February 2005 — The Council of Ministers yesterday adopted a number of decisions to intensify the country’s Saudization drive and urged government agencies, universities and media organizations to support measures taken by the government to reduce dependence on foreign labor.
The weekly Cabinet meeting chaired by Crown Prince Abdullah at Al-Yamamah Palace in Riyadh also instructed the labor and civil service ministries to activate all resolutions, orders and circulars related to Saudization and make sure they are properly implemented.
The Cabinet said companies which fail to comply with Saudization regulations will not be awarded government contracts. “All relevant government agencies, universities and media organizations must support the measures taken by the Labor Ministry to cut the number of labor visas, train Saudis and activate the private sector’s role in the employment of Saudis,” Culture and Information Minister Iyad Madani said quoting a Cabinet statement.
The new instructions came a day after Labor Minister Ghazi Al-Gosaibi, heeding requests from private sector companies, extended the grace period for the transfer of iqama sponsorship by another three months from Feb. 10.
“The new decision covers all sponsorship transfers,” Al-Madinah daily quoted a source at the ministry as saying. Applications for sponsorship transfers will be accepted at all labor offices, the source added.
Yesterday’s Cabinet decision came in the light of recommendations made by a team of experts entrusted with tackling unemployment in the country.
The meeting urged the Information Ministry to support the Labor Ministry’s media campaign for Saudization of jobs. It instructed all government agencies and public organizations to coordinate with the ministries of labor and civil service on matters related to Saudization and recruitment.
The Cabinet also asked the interior and labor ministries and other relevant agencies to fix working hours at private institutions as per the law. The Labor Ministry has been told to present a detailed report to the Cabinet within two years on measures taken to Saudize jobs and proposals to overcome obstacles.
The Cabinet commended the resolutions taken by the Counterterrorism International Conference in Riyadh, especially its support to Prince Abdullah’s proposal to set up an international anti-terror center. It urged all countries and international organizations to implement the resolutions to contain terrorism.
The meeting entrusted the interior minister to hold talks with his Pakistani counterpart to sign an agreement for security cooperation.
It also decided to sign a memorandum of understanding with Syria to exchange information on real estate registration, regional planning and geographic information systems. The minister of municipal and rural affairs will hold talks with Syrian officials to sign the MoU.
The meeting authorized the foreign minister to sign an agreement with the International Atomic Energy Agency to implement the guarantees within the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty.
The Cabinet appointed Muhammad ibn Saleh Al-Daham, deputy finance minister for budget affairs, Ibrahim ibn Abdul Kareem Al-Shadukhi, adviser for water affairs at the Water and Electricity Ministry, Abdul Rahman ibn Abdullah Al-Rayyes, deputy director of the Mujahedeen department at the Interior Ministry, and Hamad ibn Muhammad Al-Sarie, director of educational information at the Education Ministry.