Expat workers rejoice as Saudi Arabia’s labor reforms usher in new era

Expat workers rejoice as Saudi Arabia’s labor reforms usher in new era
Expat workers have greeted the reform package enthusiastically, saying it offers them greater choice and support in employment. (SPA)
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Updated 14 March 2021

Expat workers rejoice as Saudi Arabia’s labor reforms usher in new era

Expat workers rejoice as Saudi Arabia’s labor reforms usher in new era
  • Under changes to kafala sponsorship system, foreign workers in private sector will have improved job mobility
  • Ten million migrant workers are expected to benefit from changes under the kingdom’s Labor Reform Initiative

RIYADH: Saudi Arabia has ushered in a new era with historic labor reforms offering greater freedom to millions of migrant and expatriate workers taking effect on Sunday.
Under changes to the kafala sponsorship system, foreign workers in the private sector will have improved job mobility, and be able to change jobs and leave the country without employers’ consent.
The dramatic overhaul — part of the Kingdom’s efforts to build an attractive jobs market — also will allow expat workers to apply directly for government services, with their employment contracts documented digitally.
As many as 10 million migrant workers are expected to benefit from changes under the Kingdom’s Labor Reform Initiative (LRI), intended to foster “a competitive and fair working environment.”
The initiative will help foreign workers acquire residency status that is not tied to a specific employer, and will allow job mobility as well as exit and re-entry visas while protecting the rights of both employee and employer.
Expat workers have greeted the reform package enthusiastically, saying it offers them greater choice and support in employment.
“This is one of the best things to have happened since I came to work in Saudi,” Imroz Abdulrahman, an Indian expat who has been living in the Kingdom for five years, told Arab News.
“I remember four years ago, when I wanted to leave my former employer and go to work for another family, the process was very complicated and difficult for everyone involved. The problems took months to resolve.”
He added: “This is a great development and will help a lot of people. I am happy to have more control over where I can work and knowing that people like me will have more support in future.”
However, Abdulghani Al-Ansari, chairman of information technology firm Bayt Al-Edarah, said that the labor reforms are a “big challenge” for private sector SMEs (small and medium-sized enterprises), adding that the government sector is leading the overhaul as part of the Vision 2030 objectives.

HIGHLIGHT

As many as 10 million migrant workers are expected to benefit from changes under the Kingdom’s Labor Reform Initiative (LRI), intended to foster ‘a competitive and fair working environment.’

“The private sector is still absorbing the changes,” he told Arab News.
Employers will be required to digitally document employee contracts to reduce the disparity between Saudi and expat workers.
“Today there is a big challenge ahead of us in terms of developing the human resources in SMEs, which are finding it difficult to absorb the concepts and mechanisms of the initiative easily.”
Al-Ansari said that he hoped SMEs will be given six months to adapt to the new rules.
“SMEs do not have laws protecting their secrets, meaning that the secrets of a company will go to another competitive company,” he said.
Al-Ansari, who led the human resources committee at the Madinah Chamber of Commerce, said the labor market is changing dramatically.
“However, minds and skills do not have a nationality or a race, and the private sector believes in profitability and competency, meaning that diversity is a good thing and will benefit the national economy,” he said.
Gloria Calinao, a domestic worker who has lived Saudi Arabia for 10 years, said: “I remember how complicated the kafala process was. I wish the new rule applies to domestic workers too so that they can also enjoy job mobility.”
Two government portals, Absher and Qiwa, have been designated for the reform procedures.

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Yemeni conjoined twins ‘Yousuf and Yassin’ to fly to Riyadh under King Salman’s orders for medical examination

Yemeni conjoined twins ‘Yousuf and Yassin’ to fly to Riyadh under King Salman’s orders for medical examination
Updated 19 April 2021

Yemeni conjoined twins ‘Yousuf and Yassin’ to fly to Riyadh under King Salman’s orders for medical examination

Yemeni conjoined twins ‘Yousuf and Yassin’ to fly to Riyadh under King Salman’s orders for medical examination
  • King Salman ordered a speedy transfer
  • The conjoined twins are expected to arrive within the next few days

DUBAI: Yemeni conjoined twins “Yousuf and Yassin” will finally get the necessary medical examinations they need after King Salman ordered for their direct transfer from Yemen to Riyadh for the possibility of a separation surgery.
King Salman ordered a speedy transfer for the twins and their parents, the General Supervisor of the King Salman Humanitarian Aid and Relief Center and renowned pediatric surgeon Abdullah bin Abdul Aziz Al-Rabiah said.
The conjoined twins are expected to arrive within the next few days, state news agency SPA reported on Sunday.
King Salman has previously ordered the transfer of conjoined twins from Mauritania to travel to Saudi Arabia to separate them. Their father, who accompanied them, said the procedures for transferring the twins to Riyadh were carried out easily.


Saudi Arabia offers condolences over Egypt train accident

Saudi Arabia offers condolences over Egypt train accident
Updated 19 April 2021

Saudi Arabia offers condolences over Egypt train accident

Saudi Arabia offers condolences over Egypt train accident
  • The train accident left 97 wounded after it derailed off its tracks

RIYADH: Saudi Arabia said on Sunday it expresses its deep sorrow for the train accident north of the Egyptian capital Cairo.
A passenger train derailed earlier on Sunday in the city of Toukh in Qalyubia province, injuring around 100 people.
“The Kingdom expresses its sincere condolences and sympathy to the families of the victims, and to the Egyptian leadership, government and people, wishing the injured a speedy recovery,” the foreign ministry said in a statement.
Four train wagons ran off the railway while the train was traveling to the Nile Delta city of Mansoura from Cairo, Egypt’s railway authority said.
(With AP)


Saudi crown prince meets British PM’s envoy to the Gulf region

Saudi crown prince meets British PM’s envoy to the Gulf region
Updated 19 April 2021

Saudi crown prince meets British PM’s envoy to the Gulf region

Saudi crown prince meets British PM’s envoy to the Gulf region

JEDDAH: Saudi Crown Prince Muhammad bin Salman met with the special envoy of the British prime minister for the Gulf Region, Edward Lister, early Monday in Jeddah.

During the meeting, they looked into ways to enhance Saudi-UK bilateral relations and discussed regional and international events of common interest.

The meeting was attended by Prince Khalid bin Bandar bin Sultan bin Abdulaziz, Saudi ambassador to the UK; Saudi Minister of Foreign Affairs Prince Faisal bin Farhan; Minister of Commerce and Minister of Information-designate Majid Al-Qasabi, as well as the British ambassador to the Kingdom, Neil Crompton.


‘We must cooperate’ to curb virus, avoid tough measures, Saudi Ministry of Interior warns

‘We must cooperate’ to curb virus, avoid tough measures, Saudi Ministry of Interior warns
A Saudi woman walks on a social distancing marker at a shopping center, as preventive measures against the spread of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19), in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia May 3, 2020. (REUTERS)
Updated 19 April 2021

‘We must cooperate’ to curb virus, avoid tough measures, Saudi Ministry of Interior warns

‘We must cooperate’ to curb virus, avoid tough measures, Saudi Ministry of Interior warns
  • Makkah police arrest 13 people for violating isolation, quarantine instructions

RIYADH: The Saudi Ministry of Interior (MoI) announced on Sunday that authorities have detected a surge of “worrying” behaviors in the Kingdom since the beginning of Ramadan, warning citizens to avoid ignoring anti-coronavirus health measures.

At a joint press conference between the Ministry of Interior, Ministry of Health (MoH) and the Ministry of Hajj and Umrah, MoI spokesperson Lt. Col. Talal Al-Shalhoub warned that the rising number of coronavirus cases in the Kingdom could potentially lead to citywide lockdowns, as well as the banning of certain activities.
“We must cooperate and not trivialize the dangers. We do not want to have to resort to tough measures,” he said.
Al-Shalhoub added that the Kingdom was continuing to crack down on rule-breakers and those who violate safety precautions, including people using social media to spread misinformation about safety measures and ways to circumvent them.
Meanwhile, Makkah’s regional police spokesman said that 13 people were arrested in Jeddah and Taif for violating isolation and quarantine instructions after they tested positive for coronavirus.
Preliminary legal procedures were taken against them and their cases were referred to the Public Prosecution. The MoI previously warned that violators will face up to a two-year prison sentence, a fine of up to SR200,000 ($53,300), or both.
Ministry of Health spokesman Dr. Mohammed Al-Abd Al-Aly revealed that the Kingdom has seen a slight rise in the percentage of women contracting coronavirus, warning that the number of women coming forward to be vaccinated was lower than expected.
“We have also seen a rise in the number of female cases that become critical and end up needing intensive care. Women also make up 55 percent of the overall number of cases in the Kingdom,” he said.
The MoH announced that 917 new coronavirus cases were reported on Saturday, raising the total number of cases to 404,970.
There are now 9,445 active cases, 1,044 of which are in critical care.

INNUMBERS

404,970 Total cases

388,702 Recoveries

6,823 Deaths

Of the new cases, 402 were in Riyadh, 203 in Makkah and 131 in the Eastern Province. Baha and Jouf reported the lowest cases on Saturday, with just six cases each.
Al-Aly said that appointments for second vaccine doses would be automatically updated, following news that some appointments had been canceled. The Saudi strategy aims to immunize the largest number of people possible with at least the first dose, Al-Aly added.
Meanwhile, the Ministry of Hajj and Umrah announced that more than 15 million people have benefited from its Eatmarna app.
The ministry said that only people who have taken at least the first dose of the vaccine will be permitted to perform Umrah, or pray at either the Grand Mosque in Makkah or the Prophet’s Mosque in Madinah.
Violators will be prosecuted for attempting to perform the pilgrimage without the proper permissions, officials said, adding that authorities are encouraging safety precautions in order to ensure safe, smooth, and seamless pilgrimages for all visitors.
There were 907 new recoveries reported in the Kingdom, raising the total number of recoveries over the course of the pandemic to 388,702. The Kingdom’s death toll rose to 6,823 after 13 new coronavirus-related deaths were recorded.
Almost 7.1 million coronavirus vaccines have been administered in Saudi Arabia so far.

The Kingdom is now delivering vaccines at a rate of about 1.32 per second, or 114,471 each day. About 20.3 percent of the Saudi population have now been vaccinated.

The last day saw the completion of 51,225 PCR tests, bringing the total number of tests conducted in the Kingdom to 16,174,957.

 


Saudi Arabia’s anti-corruption authority initiates a number of criminal cases

Saudi Arabia’s anti-corruption authority initiates a number of criminal cases
Updated 19 April 2021

Saudi Arabia’s anti-corruption authority initiates a number of criminal cases

Saudi Arabia’s anti-corruption authority initiates a number of criminal cases
  • The authority said crimes of financial and administrative corruption do not fall under the statute of limitations

RIYADH: Saudi Arabia’s Oversight and Anti-corruption Authority (Nazaha) said on Sunday it had initiated a number of criminal cases and legal procedures.
Among the most prominent cases, a retired major general and two retired employees from the Ministry of National Guard were arrested for obtaining SR198 million ($52.8 million) from local companies and one foreign company in return for helping them win contracts.
In the second case, the former director general of projects at the Ministry of Higher Education and five businessmen were accused of establishing companies and obtaining ministry projects through them, exaggerating prices, obligating other companies contracted with the ministry to deal with them, and obtaining funds. Work is underway to calculate the amount of money that was embezzled.
In the third case, an employee working for the Foreign Ministry was arrested for having disbursed approximately SR733,000, in an irregular manner, from an account of one of the Kingdom’s embassies.
In the fourth case, an employee of the Ministry of Information was arrested for issuing 328 media licenses and receiving around SR700,000.
Two employees at a regional branch of the Ministry of Finance were suspended after two citizens bribed them with SR126,000 out of a total amount of SR8 million agreed upon, in return for facilitating payment of financial compensation.
In the sixth case, three employees in the Education Department in one of the governorates were suspended for obtaining SR624,000 in cash installments from a businessman in exchange for facilitating access to seven projects amounting to SR3.2 million.
The seventh case was in cooperation with the Ministry of Justice, where a notary was arrested in one of the regions for issuing a lost deed in an irregular manner to one of his relatives.
In cooperation with the Ministry of Interior, an officer with the rank of captain working in a regional branch of the General Directorate for Narcotics Control was arrested for obtaining SR35,000 from an expatriate, in exchange for holding a case related to his brother.
A further case involved a bank employee in one of the Kingdom’s governorates who was suspended for obtaining SR21,000 from some of the bank’s clients in exchange for completing their financing procedures.
And the last case involved two employees working in a municipality who were arrested for receiving SR25,000.