Labor visa limitations pose challenge for contractors

Updated 19 September 2014

Labor visa limitations pose challenge for contractors

The limited number of labor visas for foreign workers owing to the Kingdom’s nationalization program has led construction companies to look for alternative solutions to deal with the acute shortage of skilled labor required for the completion of the massive projects still underway in several major cities.
The third annual Saudi Mega Transport and Infrastructure conference organized by MEED held recently focused on ways to tackle this issue, the current projects in the Kingdom and labor availability, training Saudi workers, and Nitaqat (nationalization) requirements.
The conference held at Al-Faisaliah Hotel featured a keynote address by Minister of Economy and Planning Dr. Muhammad Al-Jasser and speeches by a number of suppliers in the region.
King Saud Trust Foundation head Prince Khalid Al-Saud was the guest of honor at the event.
As the largest construction market in the Middle East, Saudi Arabia has delivered megaprojects worth $350 billion that will have a long-term impact upon the economic and social development of the country.
Ayman Nahas, vice president and regional director of Louis Berger, said that the main challenge is finding qualified resources in a timely manner.
“The labor shortage forces contractors to go to the local market that often lacks the required skills, but we are working with government agencies to resolve this short-term issue,” he said.
Construction companies are dealing with the 6 percent requirement of Saudi labor by training them from the initial stages of the project.
Mustapha Talha, business development director of Alstom Transport, said that hiring Saudi labor has been challenging but they have the capability to do so as long as extensive training is delivered from the design phase, which gives more time for them to grow accustomed to the regulations.
Saudi manpower companies are working on improving their services for providing trained workers within a few weeks, which previously took several months.
Omar Al-Juraifani, CEO of Esad Manpower Company, pointed out: “The solution to the labor crisis is that companies should focus on their specialization; for instance construction companies shouldn’t do logistics.”
“Foreign companies need to understand that the regulations are constantly evolving,” Al-Juraifani said, adding, “New laws are being introduced by the end of this year, which will give more rights to employees, wages protection, environmental and safety regulations.”
Faisal Al-Fadl, Head of the Organizing Committee of the conference said: “My advice to foreign companies is to develop a partnership with a local company and try to engage at least 30 percent of transference of knowledge to the local community.”
Foreign companies are increasingly managing larger projects, but owing to the labor shortage, about 200,000 construction companies have been forced to leave the market recently.

Riyadh Season Boulevard zone opens with spectacular parade

Updated 18 October 2019

Riyadh Season Boulevard zone opens with spectacular parade

  • The Riyadh parade is thought to be the biggest parade in Kingdom to date

RIYADH: More than 1,500 performers and 25 floats took part in a parade and carnival on Thursday night that officially launched Riyadh Season’s Boulevard zone. The crowds that gathered for the fun-packed event were also treated to motorcycle displays, fireworks and other surprises.

The Boulevard lit up at 9 p.m. for the start of the 90-minute event, which featured some of the international artists who will perform as part of Riyadh Season. Afterwards, the zone’s food and drink outlets, outdoor cinema and fountain shows officially opened.

The audience watched the parade, performances and displays from specially constructed stands. Food trucks offered a selection of tasty snacks, and organizers also provided prayer rooms, toilets, first-aid stations and other facilities.

In addition to the opening-night festivities, the Boulevard zone, which covers 400,000 square meters, will host a wide range of entertainment options and activities for all ages, including the outdoor cinema, restaurants, and sports, music and theatrical events. It has three main venues: The 22,000-seat Mohammed Abdu Theater, the 6,000-seat Abu Bakr Salem Theater, and the 2,000-seat Baker Al-Sheddi Theater.

The parade is just one of more than 100 events featuring local, regional and international performers taking place during the Riyadh Season festival, which continues until mid-December at 12 zones across the city: the Boulevard; the Front; Riyadh Car Show; Winter Wonderland; Riyadh Stadiums; the Diplomatic Quarter; Al-Muraba’a; Al-Malaz; Wadi Namar; Nabd Al-Riyadh; Riyadh Safari; and Riyadh Sahara. It has been organized with the support of Turki Al-Sheikh, chairman of the General Entertainment Authority and president of Riyadh Season.

The audience watched the parade from specially built stands. (Supplied)


The ambitious 2019 Saudi Seasons initiative, the first of its kind in the region, was launched in February and includes 11 local seasons covering most parts of the Kingdom. Designed to promote the fledgling Saudi entertainment sector and boost tourism, it is attracting some of the biggest names in world entertainment.

The Riyadh parade is thought to be the biggest parade in Kingdom to date. It follows a folklore parade at the Mawtni (My Nation) cultural event in Yanbu to mark Saudi National Day this year, and a parade during the Jeddah Season festivities in the city’s Obhur district.