Saudi Arabia’s labor reforms seen as big boost for private sector

Saudi Arabia’s labor reforms seen as big boost for private sector
The Labor Reform Initiative is aimed at improving contractual relations between workers and employers. (Aramco)
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Updated 05 November 2020

Saudi Arabia’s labor reforms seen as big boost for private sector

Saudi Arabia’s labor reforms seen as big boost for private sector
  • New initiative aims to develop and improve the labor market environment and raise its competitiveness

JEDDAH/RIYADH: Saudi Arabia’s new labor reforms, announced Wednesday, will benefit foreign skilled workers in the Kingdom’s private sector while ensuring flexibility of movement say ministers.

Saudi Arabia’s Ministry of Human Resources and Social Development (MHRSD) unveiled the Labor Reform Initiative (LRI) under the National Transformation Program (NTP), which will improve the contractual relationship between workers and employers in a drive to make the job market in Saudi Arabia more attractive.

Commenting on the initiative, which was a collaboration with the Ministry of Interior, MHRSD’s Minister Ahmed Sulaiman Al-Rajhi tweeted: “We have launched a Labor Reform Initiative, one of the initiatives of the National Transformation Program, through which we seek to develop and improve the labor market environment and raise its competitiveness to enable human resources in accordance with the Kingdom’s Vision 2030.”

The initiative, which comes into effect on March 14, 2021, will help foreigners to acquire a residency status that is not tied to a specific employer or employment status, a key reform in the sponsorship system, bringing Saudi Arabia closer to labor market regulations in advanced economies.

Fadhel Saad Al-Buainain, a member of the Shoura Council and an economic expert, said the Kingdom seeks to improve the work environment for the private sector to meet the international standards. The Kingdom has implemented numerous initiatives to protect wages and improve the work environment, housing conditions and insurance.

“This initiative protects an employee’s dignity and freedom and guarantees for the employer compliance with the contract. The Saudi government is keen to reform the business sector and the labor market and to adhere to the requirements of the International Organization of Labor,” he told Arab News.

By allowing job mobility, regulating the issuing of exit and reentry visas and protecting the rights of both employee and employer, it will contribute to increasing the efficiency of the work environment.

Mohammad Sabbah, a business development specialist from Jordan residing in the Kingdom for 20 years and specializing in the Saudi market, described the initiative as a step in the right direction, noting that investment in Saudi Arabia is safe. It is vital for the employee-employer relationship to be flexible as such things can develop business overall, he said.

Saudi Arabia has introduced similar initiatives in the past to relax restrictions on the mobility of foreign workers and to protect the rights of the workforce, including the Wage Protection System, the digital documentation of work contracts, the Labor Education and Awareness Initiative, and the launch of “Wedy,” an arbitration process where labor ombudsmen and case officers are available to help employees and employers in a dispute.

Under the new initiative, employers will be required to document digitally employee contracts to reduce the disparity between Saudi workers and expatriates as more than 150,000 labor disputes have been filed in the past 3 years. The MHRSD aims to solve labor cases amicably through its settlement administration. The initiative will also help to regulate the unorganized labor force in the Kingdom, which is estimated to be in the millions.

The reforms will allow expatriate workers to transfer between employers after their contract expires, without the need for the employer’s consent. The initiative also outlines conditions applicable during the validity of the contract, provided a notice period of three months and specific measures are adhered to.

The exit and reentry visa reforms will allow expatriate workers to travel outside Saudi Arabia without their employer’s approval after submitting a request. The Final Exit Visa reforms allow foreign workers to leave Saudi Arabia after the end of their employment contract without the employer’s consent. The employer will, however, be notified electronically of their departure.

The LRI outlines that employees must bear all consequences, financial or otherwise, if they break the employment contract.

Tarek Al-Akil, the president of ACE Group, said the old sponsorship system did not meet the requirements of the employer-employee relationship. He said the new measures were bold and will assist Vision 2030’s aim to catapult the Kingdom forwards.

LRI services will be made available to the public through the smartphone app Absher, the MOI’s portal that enables residents of the Kingdom to benefit from e-services provided by the sectors of the ministry and the MHRSD’s Qiwa portal.

Saudi Arabia expects the new initiative to have positive economic effects, including developing the local market and the flexibility of work, increase the productivity within the private sector, attracting highly skilled talent, and ultimately contributing to achieving the goals of the Kingdom’s Vision 2030 reform plan through the National Transformation Program.


Arab coalition destroys Houthi drone targeting Saudi Arabia

Arab coalition destroys Houthi drone targeting Saudi Arabia
Updated 9 min 53 sec ago

Arab coalition destroys Houthi drone targeting Saudi Arabia

Arab coalition destroys Houthi drone targeting Saudi Arabia

DUBAI: The Arab coalition has destroyed a Houthi drone targeting Saudi Arabia, news channel Al-Arabiya has reported.

The coalition said the attack is a continuation of the Houthi’s “systematic and intentional hostile attempts to target civilians.”

It said the drone was fired towards Jazan in the south of the kingdom.  

The bloc said it was taking all necessary operational measures to protect civilians in accordance with international humanitarian law. 


Saudi Arabia postpones second COVID-19 dose reservations

Saudi Arabia postpones second COVID-19 dose reservations
Updated 11 April 2021

Saudi Arabia postpones second COVID-19 dose reservations

Saudi Arabia postpones second COVID-19 dose reservations
  • Due to a global shortage in vaccine manufacturing and delivery, MoH provided more room for first timers

JEDDAH: Saudi Arabia’s Ministry of Health (MoH) said it has postponed second dose appointments for coronavirus disease (COVID-19) vaccines in order to ensure more of the Kingdom’s residents can receive their first dose.

According to the MoH, all second dose reservations will be rescheduled as of Sunday April 11 and will resume at a later time. The ministry added that due to a global shortage in vaccine manufacturing and delivery, they’ve provided more room for first timers, especially those in high risk categories, to receive theirs.
Over 6.1 million vaccine doses have been administered in the Kingdom so far, at a rate of 175,000 daily doses, which means 17.5 percent of the Kingdom has received at least one dose.
Municipalities coordinating with relevant authorities continue to inspect commercial establishments, especially in areas known to be overcrowded across the Kingdom. Jeddah municipality, with the participation of a number of relevant authorities, closed 81 shops in Al-Sawarikh International Market in the south of the governorate, after finding multiple violations, including failure to adhere to precautionary and preventive measures among visitors, and a lack of commitment to social distancing measures.

FASTFACT

Over 6.1 million vaccine doses have been administered in the Kingdom.

The MoH reported 878 new cases of COVID-19 in the Kingdom on Saturday, meaning 397,636 people in Saudi Arabia have now contracted the disease.
The top three most infected regions were Riyadh with 410 infections, Makkah with 149 cases, and the Eastern Province with 141, while the lowest reported number of cases were in Baha, with just seven cases.
The number of active cases also rose, to 8,113 active cases in the Kingdom, 914 of them critical — a rise of 16 in the past 24 hours.
The ministry announced 578 new recovered cases, taking the total number of recoveries to 382,776. Saudi Arabia’s recovery rate has decreased to 96.2 percent.
For the first time in nearly four months, the number of deaths reported in the Kingdom rose to double digits, as 10 new COVID-19 related deaths were reported on Saturday, raising the death toll to 6,747. A total of 61,640 PCR tests were conducted in the past 24 hours, raising the total number of tests in the Kingdom to 15,738,545.


Saudi artist in the driver’s seat for new Jeddah street project

Saudi artist in the driver’s seat for new Jeddah street project
Shalimar Sharbatly will paint a new set of vehicles for the Draw a Nation initiative. (Supplied)
Updated 10 April 2021

Saudi artist in the driver’s seat for new Jeddah street project

Saudi artist in the driver’s seat for new Jeddah street project
  • Draw a Nation comes within the framework of initiatives to improve the visual appeal of Jeddah’s streetscapes

RIYADH: A Saudi abstract artist who won global recognition for her hand-painted and customized cars will paint a new set of vehicles for an extended edition of the Draw a Nation initiative after signing an agreement with the Jeddah municipality.
Shalimar Sharbatly, a pioneer of the “Moving Art” school, was responsible for both a hand-painted, customized Porsche 911, showcased at the Paris Motor Show, and a Formula 1 racer, known as “La Torq,” which was unveiled at the 2017 Monaco Grand Prix.
Both vehicles were also exhibited at the Louvre museum in Paris as part of a “Moving Art” exhibition in 2017.
However, within the Kingdom, Sharbatly is best known for the Draw a Nation initiative, which saw her showcase several of her hand-painted vehicles during last year’s Saudi National Day celebrations.
Sharbatly was inspired to upcycle old cars after witnessing an accident while driving along the beach in Jeddah. She told Arab News that painting the vehicles helped her regain a sense of purpose.

BACKGROUND

Shalimar Sharbatly, a pioneer of the ‘Moving Art’ school, was responsible for both a hand-painted, customized Porsche 911, showcased at the Paris Motor Show, and a Formula 1 racer, known as ‘La Torq,’ which was unveiled at the 2017 Monaco Grand Prix.

“I had become disillusioned with art and was lacking passion. I started painting these cars, turning abandoned vehicles that were deemed useless into vibrant and beautiful works of art that could gain a second life. I hope that when others view these pieces, they will feel the same joy I felt when I was painting them,” she said.
Draw a Nation comes within the framework of initiatives to improve the visual appeal of Jeddah’s streetscapes. The goal is to paint a number of old and abandoned cars and vehicles, turning them into works of art that enrich the city.
Ayed Al-Zahrani, undersecretary for the mayor of Jeddah for community service, said: “The community will benefit from recycling cars and turning them into artistic masterpieces displayed in public for Jeddah residents and visitors.”
The Jeddah municipality also previously launched the “Yalla Jeddah” platform, which invites innovators in all fields to address challenges facing Jeddah’s art scene.


Renovation projects underway in Makkah

Renovation projects underway in Makkah
The mountain houses the Cave of Hira, which has tremendous significance for Muslims. (Photo/Twitter)
Updated 11 April 2021

Renovation projects underway in Makkah

Renovation projects underway in Makkah
  • The sites included the Hudaybiyyah region where the Radwan Pledge took place in the sixth Hijri year, when Prophet Muhammad brokered a peace treaty between him and his followers and the Quraysh clan

JEDDAH: Reconstruction and renovation projects are underway in six Islamic historical sites and museums in Makkah.
The Royal Commission for Makkah City and Holy Sites hosted a field visit from the Executive Committee for the Path of the Islamic Historical Sites and Museums.
The sites included the Hudaybiyyah region where the Radwan Pledge took place in the sixth Hijri year, when Prophet Muhammad brokered a peace treaty between him and his followers and the Quraysh clan.
They also visited Bir Tuwa (the Well of Tuwa), Jabal Thawr, the 1,200-year-old water well and canal Ayn Zubaydah, the Mina site where the Al-Aqaba Pledge took place and Jabal Al-Nour, the Cave of Hira.
One of the most important projects is the Jabal Al-Nour Cultural Center.
The mountain houses the Cave of Hira, which has tremendous significance for Muslims because it is where the prophet is said to have had his first revelation and received the first verses of the Holy Qur’an. 


Saudi aid agency launches Ramadan food baskets project

Saudi aid agency launches Ramadan food baskets project
The distribution project targets the most needy families in the three districts in Nouakchott, benefiting about 3,090 families. (SPA)
Updated 11 April 2021

Saudi aid agency launches Ramadan food baskets project

Saudi aid agency launches Ramadan food baskets project
  • These projects come within the framework of the humanitarian aid being provided by the Kingdom, represented by KSrelief, to people around the world

MARIB: The King Salman Humanitarian Aid and Relief Center (KSrelief) has launched in Marib a project to distribute 9,880 Ramadan food baskets, benefiting thousands of needy and displaced families in six Yemeni governorates.
The director of the executive unit of the management of displaced people camps in Marib governorate, Saif Muthanna, said that he valued the humanitarian aid provided by Saudi Arabia, represented by KSrelief.
The center has also distributed 662 Ramadan food baskets in villages in Chad.
KSrelief, in cooperation with Mauritanian Red Crescent, launched the Ramadan food baskets distribution project.
The distribution project targets the most needy families in the three districts in Nouakchott, benefiting about 3,090 families.
The center also delivered Saudi Arabia’s gift to Mali, included 50 tons of dates.
On behalf of KSrelief, the aid was delivered by the Saudi ambassador to Mali, Khaled bin Mabrouk Al-Khaled. These projects come within the framework of the humanitarian aid being provided by the Kingdom, represented by KSrelief, to people around the world.