Saudis welcome regulation of foreign labor

Saudis welcome regulation of foreign labor
Updated 07 November 2013

Saudis welcome regulation of foreign labor

Saudis welcome regulation of foreign labor

Saudis have welcomed the enforcement of the new labor laws to regulate the foreign labor workforce in the country following the end of the grace period.
Rashed Al-Fowzan, an economist and head of CNBC television channel in Riyadh, said the sight of closed shops, restaurants and empty streets has highlighted the magnitude of the problem.
He said there has clearly not been any enforcement of laws pertaining to work visa violations, which led to foreigners controlling the local economy. He urged government to continue its crackdown on illegal business operators.
Al-Fowzan said this regulation of the labor market would reduce Saudi unemployment. “There is no better time than now for young Saudis to start their own businesses because the cost of doing business will decrease,” he said.
Rakan Habeeb, an opinion writer and communication professor at King Abdulaziz University, said the market is expected to face some temporary staffing challenges including vehicle workshops, restaurants, and building and maintenance companies. This is because many foreign workers failed to rectify their residence and work permits during the grace period.
Habeeb called on the Ministry of Labor to provide “real” businesses with their requested number of work visas to crush the black market in visas. “There should be at least a two-year restriction of sponsorship transfers to block any manipulation of the new labor laws. (This would ensure) recruiters would not bring more workers than they actually need at their businesses,” he said.
Khaled Al-Sulaiman, a columnist, said some Saudis, whom he labeled the “visa mafia,” are responsible for creating this problem of illegal foreign workers in the country. He said they were motivated by greed and the chance to make money quickly; and did not consider the social, economic and security interests of the country. He said the security agencies should investigate Saudis involved in this practice.
Other Saudis also supported government's attempt to regularize the market with the countrywide raids. “This is an excellent system, even if we have to pay extra for it,’ said Sinan Al-Johani from Hail where 200 illegal workers were nabbed on Tuesday.
Abu Saad Al-Saeed said he stopped working on his new house because of the sudden jump in the price of sand and other construction material. “Even legal workers are afraid to show up at the work site,” he said.
Al-Saeed said he sub-contracted a painter, who is legal and working for his sponsor’s paint shop, but the worker did not show up because he feared being caught working in a place other than his employer's workplace.
Abdullah Nashri, a university student, called for a crackdown on the visa black market. “We hope illegal workers understand that our laws should be respected, especially when it comes to regulating employment. If we let things go on as in the past, we will become a minority in our country just like in some other countries around us,” he said.
Fayaz, a blogger from Jeddah, said the new laws are helping to regulate the labor market and resulted in less crowded streets. “I hope this law enforcement policy brings the inflation rate down,” he said.