Businesses heave a sigh of relief

1 / 2
2 / 2
Updated 09 April 2013

Businesses heave a sigh of relief

Saudis and expatriates alike have welcomed the decision taken by Riyadh Gov. Prince Khaled bin Bandar, to extend the Saudization deadline for businesses by two months.
A similar decision is expected from the governors of other regions to boost businesses, attract investors and contain the rise in the prices of goods and services.
The deadline has been extended until June 9 (Rajab 30, 1434H) in order to assist businesses such as banks, money exchangers, gold and jewelry shops, vegetable markets and public service offices to rectify the status of their workers and employ the required number of Saudis.
Said Al-Shaikh, chief economist at National Commercial Bank, supported the move, saying it would have a positive impact on businesses. However, he pointed out that more time would be required to correct the status of thousands of foreign workers and ensure the new labor regulations are observed. He expected another extension of the deadline in order to provide ample time for businesses as well as authorities to deal with the complex issue.
In his directive that was issued on Wednesday night, Prince Khaled instructed officials to intensify inspection of targeted firms after the grace period, to ensure they employ the adequate number of Saudis.
The new inspections will target 11 sectors, namely banks, holding companies, private schools, real estate offices, public service offices, gold markets, catering, vegetable markets, shops selling household items, Haj and Umrah offices as well as used furniture markets.
Hattab Al-Anazi, spokesman of the Labor Ministry, said he was not aware of the decision taken by the Riyadh governor. “I have seen the report in local newspapers but I cannot confirm or deny it,” he told Arab News. In a previous statement, Al-Anazi had said that no exceptions would be made in case of any institution in the campaign to drive out illegals.
The nationwide campaign has hit businesses and created a kind of fear among expatriates. Many foreigners in some firms have not been attending work and many shops run by expatriates have been closed.
Some Saudi intellectuals have questioned the ministry’s massive campaign against foreigners who hold valid residency permits, saying it has increased charges of maintenance workers, electricians and plumbers.
“Many shops have been closed. This will affect the local market and increase the cost of living for citizens. We are now experiencing a development boom and thousands of Saudis are in the process of building their own houses and they depend mainly on foreigners,” said Farhan Al-Oqail, a columnist in Al-Yaum Arabic daily.
Al-Oqbail emphasized the need to treat foreign workers better, inspired by the teachings of Islam. “We should draft our laws and regulations considering the country’s situation, the volume of work and present development requirements,” he said.
Rafeek Younus, vice president of Saihati Group and managing director of Saudi Engineering Group International, welcomed the decision to extend the Saudization campaign in the Riyadh region. He stressed the need for persuading ordinary Saudis to take up various “menial jobs” that are currently done by expats.
“Many foreigners have come to the Kingdom purchasing visas offered by Saudi sponsors, paying thousands of riyals. They would not have purchased such visas if they knew they would be considered illegals,” he said, and called upon the ministry to support such expats to legalize their stay on humanitarian grounds.
Abubakar Abdurahman, a senior resource person of CIGI, said the raids have created a fear psychosis among the expatriate community and affected businesses. He stressed the need for adopting a gradual Saudization process, which will not adversely affect the national economy. He feared that if foreign workers are not given enough time to rectify, the ensuing situation could damage the Kingdom’s international reputation.
Akbar Batcha, a business executive, emphasized the need for a cleaning operation as more than 50 percent of foreigners do not work for their sponsors. “This is a major issue,” he said, while calling upon the ministry to expedite procedures to transfer their sponsorship. “The enforcement of the law that everyone should work under their sponsors could lead to the closure of many businesses and ultimately Saudi citizens and the national economy will suffer,” he told Arab News.


Riyadh roads turn green as world’s largest urban greening project branches out

Based on experience, roads and streets without trees contain eight to 10 times the amount of dust compared with streets lined with trees on both sides. (Photo/Supplied)
Updated 03 August 2020

Riyadh roads turn green as world’s largest urban greening project branches out

  • Capital gets a facelift as Vision 2030 program works to plant 7.5 million trees
  • Most of the tree species used in the project are from a well-developed local environment with low agricultural service and care

RIYADH: The Green Riyadh project, one of the world’s largest urban greening initiatives, is rapidly bearing fruit as it transforms main roads in the capital.

Major thoroughfares, including King Khalid, Makkah and King Salman roads, are getting a facelift as part of the Vision 2030 goal of improving quality of life in the city.
Dr. Fahad Al-Mana, a professor of Ornamental Plants, Gardens and Green Areas at King Saud University, told Arab News that native tree species being used for the project include Ziziphus spina-christi, Acacia gerrardii and Prosopis cineraria, commonly known as the ghaf tree.
According to Al-Mana, the trees can survive in harsh desert conditions and will grow without intensive agricultural care.
“Most of the tree species used in the planting of the Green Riyadh project are from a well-developed local environment with low agricultural service and care,” he said.
Environmental conditions in Riyadh were taken into account during the tree selection process. The species can grow to a large size in only three years.
“In some locations, they have moved large 3-year-old local trees that were taken care of in plant nurseries to new locations where they are growing successfully,” Al-Mana said.
Green Riyadh will increase the amount of greenery in the city and augment the green cover in the Saudi capital with the planting of 7.5 million trees around the city’s main features and facilities.
The project will reduce the average ambient temperature by 2 degrees Celsius and improve air quality, encouraging people to follow a healthier lifestyle by walking or cycling.

FASTFACTS

• The project will reduce the average ambient temperature by 2 degrees Celsius and improve air quality, encouraging people to follow a healthier lifestyle by walking or cycling.

• The project will maximize the use of recycled water in irrigation works by increasing usage from 90,000 cubic meters per day to more than 1 million cubic meters per day through the construction of a new recycled water network.

• Green space in the city will increase from 5 percent to 9 percent by 2030

“The aim of planting trees in the streets is to provide shade and moderate the temperature, especially in summer, which contributes to the purification of air and reduces environmental pollution by protecting the city from sand storms, winds and dust. In addition, it gives an aesthetic view and the element of nature enters the city and nearby structures,” said Al-Mana.
He added that trees, especially those planted in central street islands, must have long trunks and high branches to avoid hindering the movement of pedestrians and cars. The trunk must measure at least 3 to 4 meters and the size of the trees planted must be proportional to the width of the island.
Al-Mana said green space in the city will increase from 5 percent to 9 percent by 2030.
According to the Green Riyadh website, the project will maximize the use of recycled water in irrigation works by increasing usage from 90,000 cubic meters per
day to more than 1 million cubic meters per day through the construction of a new recycled water network.
Al-Mana said the Green Riyadh project will also reduce carbon dioxide and impurity levels in the city.
“Based on experience, roads and streets without trees contain eight to 10 times the amount of dust compared with streets lined with trees on both sides,” he said.