Private companies woo Saudi workers offering big incentives

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Updated 03 October 2012

Private companies woo Saudi workers offering big incentives

The demand for Saudi workers in the private sector has increased dramatically in recent months as many companies find it difficult to get adequate number of qualified Saudi nationals to meet their manpower requirements.
The Nitaqat system introduced by the Labor Ministry has changed the strategy of many companies as they compete with one another to employ more Saudis in order to benefit from the ministry’s services.
Many private companies believe that employment of Saudis would strengthen their market position and increase their sales. This strategic turn in private sector recruitment policy is good news for the thousands of Saudis who pass out from universities.
“We have advertised in so many newspapers on so many occasions to fill vacant positions and meet manpower requirements of our expansion plan. Unfortunately only a very few Saudis turned up,” said Hussein Al-Marzooq, HR and administration director of the United Yousef M. Naghi Company, an affiliate of Naghi Group.
The company is seeking a large number of Saudi workers to take up important positions in its showrooms, warehouses and maintenance centers across the Kingdom.
“We have invested a lot of money in our new expansion projects and we want Saudis to be part of our success,” Al-Marzooq said. “At present we have about 1,000 employees and we intend to double the number in the coming few years.”
Executives of a number of other companies have also complained that they are not getting qualified Saudis to fulfill Nitaqat conditions. According to the Labor Ministry, more than a million Saudis, mostly women, have applied for its unemployment allowance.
Al-Marzooq disclosed his company’s plans to employ more than 300 Saudis immediately in different positions including accountants, cashiers, showroom supervisors, civil engineers, architectural engineers, secretaries, administrators, training and development manager, warehouse manager and drivers.
Al-Marzooq emphasized United Naghi’s policy of creating more job opportunities for Saudis after providing them with on-the-job training.
He spoke about Naghi’s efforts to attract Saudi employees by giving them incentives such as good salary and benefits including yearly ticket allowance. “Our minimum salary is more than SR 3,000.”
Asked why Saudis are not applying for private sector jobs, Al-Marzooq said: “We don’t know the real reason.” However, he pointed out that most Saudis prefer government jobs as they find them more comfortable.
He said Naghi provides Saudis a good working atmosphere and incentives and hoped that it would encourage them to continue with the company for several years.
“We don’t fire any staff member without any genuine reason,” he said.
Al-Marzooq said his company was seeking Saudi workers for its showrooms and maintenance centers in Dammam, Riyadh, Jeddah, Hail, Bisha, Unaizah, Baha, Hafr Al-Baten, Al-Ahsa and Tabuk. “We are also looking for qualified Saudi women to take up jobs in the company’s Customer Service and Marketing Department,” he said.
Naghi has embarked on a new program to recruit and train university graduates to employ them in various departments. “We will participate in the career day of Saudi universities to recruit qualified graduates,” he said. At present the company is training 35 Saudis to take up jobs such as salesmen and service technicians.
United Yousef Naghi Co. Ltd. is part of Naghi Group of companies. With their headquarters in Jeddah, the group operates throughout the Kingdom with a network of offices, warehouses and showrooms as well as active companies in the UAE, Egypt and India.
Naghi Group’s businesses cover automobiles from luxury cars to commercial vehicles and buses; consumer goods and foodstuffs; electronic and electrical goods; operation and maintenance services; catering and restaurant operations; retail outlets; perfumes, cosmetics and personal care products; pharmaceuticals, medical technologies and services; insurance & risk management services; and Haj and Umrah
service. Major multinational companies such as Roles Royce, BMW, Land Rover, Jaguar, Hyundai and LG Electronics, have chosen to work with this successful group.


Saudi pursuit of ‘green Kingdom’ goal gets a boost

Updated 41 min 20 sec ago

Saudi pursuit of ‘green Kingdom’ goal gets a boost

  • Agreement between agriculture ministry and Dubai's ICBA aimed at conserving natural resources
  • Kingdom's biosaline agriculture research and systems stands to benefit from ICBA's expertise

DUBAI: Agricultural development and environmental sustainability in Saudi Arabia will receive a boost in the coming years, thanks to a new agreement between the International Center for Biosaline Agriculture (ICBA) in Dubai and the Saudi Ministry of Environment, Water and Agriculture.

The agreement aims to enable Saudi Arabia to achieve its goal of preservation and sustainable management of its natural resources by raising the quality of biosaline agriculture research and systems.

The ministry says that the agreement will make use of the ICBA’s expertise in capacity development besides agricultural and environmental research, especially in the fields of vegetation development, combating desertification and climate change adaptation.

“It also includes training programs for Saudi technicians and farmers,” the ministry said. “In addition, it will localize, implement and develop biosaline agriculture research and production systems for both crops and forestation, which contributes to environmental and agricultural integration.”

Dr. Ismahane Elouafi, the ICBA’s director general, told Arab News: “The agreement had been in the making for about two years. That was when we were approached by the Saudi government.”

Dr. Ismahane Elouafi, ICBA Director General, at the center's quinoa fields in Dubai. (Supplied photo)

She said: “We put forward a proposal to demonstrate how the ICBA can help the Saudi government to implement its Green Kingdom Initiative, through which the ministry is trying to restore green coverage in the country and revive old conservation practices.”

Geographical features and climatic conditions very greatly from one part of the country to the other.

In the past, experimentation with such crops as potatoes, wheat and alfalfa proved detrimental to the Kingdom’s environment and natural resources due to faster rates of groundwater withdrawal.

“The ministry wanted to put a halt to over-abstraction of water, so they went through different policies,” Elouafi said.

“They made sure, for example, that farmers stopped producing wheat because about 2,400 liters of water is consumed to produce 1 kg of wheat. It was a huge amount,” she added.

“The new strategy is to find more appropriate crops for the farming community, which is quite large in the Kingdom.”

Saudi Arabia has been trying to grow its own food on a large scale since the 1980s. 

The objective of the Green Kingdom Initiative is to reduce the agricultural sector’s water demand by finding alternatives to thirsty crops.

The agreement will require the ICBA, over the next five years, to build for Saudi Arabia a new biosaline agriculture sector. 

As part of this shift, cultivation of a number of crops, notably quinoa, pearl millet and sorghum, will be piloted in high-salinity regions and then scaled up.

“The crops did very well in the UAE,” Elouafi said. “We’re looking at Sabkha regions, which have very high salinity and wetlands, and are on the ministry’s environmental agenda.”

Another objective is “smart” agriculture, which will involve raising water productivity, controlling irrigation water consumption and changing farming behavior.

Elouafi said that getting farmers in the Kingdom to stop cultivating wheat took some time as they had become accustomed to heavy government subsidies. In 2015, wheat production was phased out, followed by potatoes a year later and then alfalfa. 

“Farmers were provided everything to the point where they got used to a very good income and a very easy system,” she said.

“Now farmers are being asked to start producing something else, but the income won’t be the same, so it’s very important at this stage that the ministry has a plan and it’s fully understood.”

The agreement envisages preparation of proposals for ministry projects that involve plant production, drought monitoring, development of promising local crop and forestation varieties, and conservation of plant genetic resources.

“We’re also discussing capacity building because the ministry is big and has many entities. Because Saudi Arabia is a large country and has the capacity to meet some of its food requirements internally, what’s required is a better understanding of the country’s natural capabilities in terms of production of the crops it needs, like certain cereals,” Elouafi said.

“The way the authorities are going about it right now is more organized and more holistic. They’re trying to plan it properly.”

Elouafi said that having a better understanding of Saudi Arabia’s water constraints and managing the precious resource is essential.

 

Although almost the entire country is arid, there is rainfall in the north and along the mountain range to the west, especially in the far southwest, which receives monsoon rains in summer.

Sporadic rain may also occur elsewhere. Sometimes it is very heavy, causing serious flooding, including in Riyadh.

“They (the government) are very interested in drought management systems. The Kingdom has a long history of agriculture,” Elouafi said.

“It has large quantities of water in terms of rainfall, and certain regions have mountainous conditions, which are conducive to agriculture.”

Clearly, preservation of water resources is a priority for the Saudi government. But no less urgent is the task of conversion of green waste to improve soil quality, increase soil productivity and water retention, and reduce demand for irrigation.

The Kingdom is one of at least three Gulf Cooperation Council countries that are taking steps to develop a regulatory framework for the recycling of waste into compost.

Saudi Arabia, the UAE and Oman are respectively aiming to recycle 85 percent, 75 percent and 60 percent of their municipal solid waste over the next decade, according to a report by the Economist Intelligence Unit (EIU) entitled “Global Food Trends to 2030.”

Saudi Arabia and the UAE rank in the bottom quartile of the 34 countries covered by the EIU’s Food Sustainability Index, with low scores for nutrition and food loss and waste. 

The answer, according to many farmers, policymakers and food-industry experts, is a shift toward more sustainable management of each country’s natural resources.