JEDDAH: MARWA HADDAD
Published — Wednesday 13 February 2013
Last update 13 February 2013 2:25 am
A study conducted by the World Bank in conjunction with the Saudi Ministry of Planning showed that Saudis are the least paid in the private sector in GCC and EU countries. The average salary of Saudis is SR 6,400 per month while the GCC national average is SR 15,200.
Abdul Aziz Al-Owaishiq, minister plenipotentiary to the Gulf Cooperation Council and head of the International Economic Relations at the council, admitted that Saudis are the least paid among the GCC countries and that Saudi Arabia has the highest unemployment rate which stood at 12.2 percent in 2012.
He said that the majority of unemployed citizens are university graduate degree holders.
Al-Owaishiq suggests that the Ministry of Labor should invest more in its new programs, such as Nitaqat and Hafez, to provide jobs that meet higher education outcomes. He also said that universities should provide students with skills that are needed most by the job market.
Students should also begin their careers in the second year in college until they graduate, he argued.
Low salaries in the private sector are linked to the dependence of businessmen on cheap foreign labor, said Yasin Al-Jefri, a financial analyst.
Nevertheless, the cost of living in Saudi Arabia is the lowest in GCC countries. This makes it easy for the foreign workers, who are singles in general, to adjust with their pay scales. This puts pressure on national manpower to accept the low salaries offered by the private sector.
Yasin thinks that many Saudi businessmen prefer cheap foreign labor over Saudi manpower.
However, Farooq Al-Khateeb, academic and financial analyst, still does not believe that Saudis don’t have equal opportunities in the private sector as their foreign counterparts.
“What we see right now is that many Saudis are employed in the private sector. There is no difference between the salaries of Saudis and non-Saudis because of the new regulations controlling wages.