Instant visa service for expat workers launched in KSA

Time: August 21, 2019  

Nitaqat seeks to increase the number of Saudis in the labor market, especially the private sector, as well as reduce unemployment and promote job stability. (AN photo)
  • Firms must be part of nationalization program
  • Saudi Arabia wants to cut unemployment rates

TAIF: Private sector firms in Saudi Arabia will be able to get instant visas for foreign workers, slashing the months-long application process, but they must commit to workforce nationalization rates. The service, from the Ministry of Labor and Social Development, allows firms enrolled in the Kingdom’s flagship nationalization program to get visas immediately without needing to submit documents.
But only green-coded firms in the Nitaqat nationalization program are eligible.
Companies fall into different categories based on what kind of work a company does, workforce size, and how many Saudis are employed by the firm. There are four categories: Platinum, green (which has three-sub categories), yellow and red.
Nitaqat seeks to increase the number of Saudis in the labor market, especially the private sector, as well as reduce unemployment and promote job stability.
The ministry’s website said that the instant visa service had cut the eight-month period that was previously needed to get one.
There are numerous conditions before companies can take advantage of the snappier process. A company needs to be green-coded for 13 consecutive weeks, or 26 intermittent weeks within a 52-week period. It must also have a valid work license, and maintain the mandatory wage protection system.

FASTFACT

• Only green-coded firms in the Nitaqat nationalization program are eligible.

• The ministry recently launched Qiwa, an online platform combining all the country’s employment services under one (electronic) roof.

• Qiwa also aims to provide Saudi government officials with statistical information to tackle business challenges facing employers and employees.

Earlier this year, the ministry launched Qiwa, an online platform combining all the country’s employment services under one (electronic) roof. The ministry also wants to improve workplace efficiency and productivity, and attract international investment.
Minister of Labor and Social Development Ahmad Al-Rajhi said at the Qiwa launch: “The ministry has entered into partnerships and agreements to settle more than 561,000 job opportunities in the private sector until 2023.”
Qiwa also aims to provide Saudi government officials with statistical information to tackle business challenges facing employers and employees, and achieve the Vision 2030 reform plan’s goal of reducing the country’s unemployment rate to 7 percent.

This article was first published in Arab News

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The ins and outs of the Saudi ‘green card’

Time: June 26, 2019  

DIMAH TALAL ALSHARIF

As has been widely reported this week, the Premium Residency scheme — sometimes referred to as the Saudi “green card” — has begun accepting applications on its online portal. The scheme was approved by the Cabinet in May, but many details that were not clear at the time have now been clarified and explained.
The scheme has two strands. Lifetime Premium Residency, as the name suggests, is of unlimited duration, and there is a one-off fee of SR800,000 ($213,316). A one-year residency is available for an annual fee of SR100,000.
The “green card” is expected to have a powerful impact on the stimulation of foreign investment in the Kingdom based on Vision 2030, and will be a catalyst for such investment in several ways.
For example, the scheme will encourage the transfer of knowledge in various sectors, thus stimulating the development and empowerment of the Saudi national workforce, especially in the sciences and other new sectors. It will also ensure equality between foreign and Saudi investors, as well as facilitating procedures for expatriates working in the Kingdom, and their families.
Premium Residency will also provide foreigners with the necessary protection for their investments, and qualify them for investment incentives, on an equal basis with Saudi investors. At the same time, it requires foreign investors to abide by the Kingdom’s laws and regulations governing health, safety and the environment.
Some have asked whether Premium Residency holders may own their own private businesses, but that issue is covered by the law regulating foreign investment in the Kingdom.
Confusion has also arisen among some existing foreign investors, who believe that obtaining a license to invest in the Kingdom entitles them to the benefits of Premium Residency. This is not so, and there are several significant differences. A foreign investor has a Saudi sponsor (the investment establishment), while a Premium Residency holder does not. Also, the holder of an investor’s license cannot be issued with a work permit or have residential property registered in their name, unlike the Premium Residency holder.
There are also circumstances in which Premium Residency may be canceled: For example, if the holder is convicted of a crime punishable by imprisonment for up to 60 days or a fine of up to SR100,000, or is subject to judicial deportation. The residency may also be canceled if the holder supplied false information in their application.
It is also important to correct the misleading suggestion that the Premium Residency scheme will in any way reduce employment opportunities for Saudis. Jobs allocated to Saudis are determined according to strict regulations; the competent authorities monitor every institution that breaks these rules and apply appropriate punishments.
The Saudi “green card” is a suitable option for some, but not for others, depending on which type of residency is most appropriate to each person’s needs. In all cases, the Kingdom’s strict implementation of its residency laws complements its other efforts to strengthen its security and protect its society.

Dimah Talal Alsharif is a Saudi legal consultant, head of the health law department at the law firm of Majed Garoub and a member of the International Association of Lawyers. Twitter: @dimah_alsharif

This article was first published in Arab News

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Saudi ‘green card’ online platform is open for business

Time: June 24, 2019  

Saudi Arabia on Sunday launched a new special residency scheme aimed at boosting investment and non-oil revenues. (Shutterstock)
  • The scheme will allow expats to do business without a Saudi sponsor, buy property and sponsor visas for relatives
  • Approved by the Saudi cabinet last month, but the portal began accepting applications on Sunday

RIYADH: Saudi Arabia’s Premium Residency scheme took effect on Sunday, three years after Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman announced the program as part of the Kingdom’s Vision 2030 reform plan.

The crown prince stressed in an interview with Al Arabia TV that the new system will not undermine citizens’ rights, rather it will serve their interests.

He affirmed that the Premium Residency will be an important source of revenues to boost the Saudi economy and will contribute to the creation of jobs for the public.

On Sunday, the Premium Residency Center began receiving applications for the new residency system through the electronic platform SAPRC (saprc.gov.sa).

RIGHTS AND BENEFITS

The Permanent Premium Residency costs SR800,000 ($213,000) paid once, while the Premium Residency costs SR100,000 annually.

Rights and privileges:

• Residence in the Kingdom with one’s family.

• Visit visas for relatives.

• Recruitment of domestic workers from abroad.

• Ownership of real estate for residential, commercial and industrial purposes, in areas other than the cities of Makkah and Madinah and border areas.

• Usufruct rights on real estate in Makkah and Madinah for a period not exceeding 99 years.

• Ownership of private means of transportation and other movables.

• Working at private establishments with the ability to change jobs; this shall extend to family members. Professions and jobs limited to Saudis shall be excluded.

• Exiting and entering the Kingdom at one’s own accord.

• Use of lanes designated for Saudis at the Kingdom’s exit and entry points.

• Engagement in business activities in accordance with the Foreign Investment Law.

On the platform, applicants can upload all the required documents and pay the necessary fees. The platform also provides an introduction to the system and the center, which offers two types of Saudi Premium Residency: Permanent Premium Residency with a one-time payment for life, and Premium Residency with a yearly financial fee and many privileges.

The initiative, approved last month by the Cabinet under King Salman’s chairmanship, gives those who wish to reside or invest in Saudi Arabia an attractive investment environment that will achieve economic growth and development.

The center is a financially and administratively independent entity associated with the Council of Economic and Development Affairs, which cooperates with government sectors to provide comprehensive services for those with Saudi Premium Residency and those wishing to obtain it.

The Permanent Premium Residency costs SR800,000 ($213,000) paid once, while the Premium Residency costs SR100,000 annually.

The Premium Residency is different from the Investor Residency in that the holder of the former is not associated with a sponsor, while the holder of the latter must have an investment establishment as a sponsor.

Analysts say the program will largely benefit wealthy individuals who have lived in Saudi Arabia for years without permanent residency or multinational companies seeking to do long-term business in the Kingdom.

Saudi Arabia is currently home to some 10 million overseas workers.

Expat workers are typically sponsored by a Saudi employer and are required to get visas to exit and enter the Kingdom.

This article was first published in Arab News

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Ramadan offers ‘golden opportunity’ to get in shape, say Saudi fitness experts

Time: May 21, 2019  

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The holy month of Ramadan is the perfect time to get into shape. Photos show clockwise from top: Sohaib Mubarak, Rayan Bashawri, Mashael Fagerah and Reham Kamal. (Photos/Supplied)
  • Many Muslims take advantage of the holy month of fasting to keep fit
  • For fat burning, it is better to work out an hour before breaking fast, since the insulin level is low, but for building lean, toned muscles, it is better to work out two hours after breaking fast because the insulin level is high

JEDDAH: Saudi fitness experts have urged Muslims to use Ramadan as a “golden opportunity” to start a new healthy lifestyle.
The holy month of fasting is the perfect time to get into shape, say some of the Kingdom’s top trainers.
With regular exercise, Ramadan can offer a new start for many worshippers both spiritually and physically. RK Fit gym owner, Reham Kamal, told Arab News that working out while fasting was healthy because the body used stored fat as energy, resulting in more fat burning.
The 32-year-old Saudi coach recommended low- to medium-impact workouts while fasting to avoid dehydration and advised trying calisthenics, a form of exercise consisting of a variety of movements which work large muscle groups, such as running, standing, grasping and pushing.
Kamal said: “Ramadan is a great opportunity to lose weight. We shouldn’t eat too much when breaking our fast. Sadly, in our culture, people take this month as an opportunity to fill the table.
“They aren’t seeing the golden opportunity to get into shape, because fasting has numerous health benefits, not only weight loss. It promotes blood-sugar control by reducing insulin resistance, increases growth hormone secretion, which is vital for growth, metabolism, weight loss and muscle strength, and aids weight loss by limiting calorie intake and boosting metabolism.
“For fat burning, it is better to work out an hour before breaking your fast, since the insulin level is low, but for building lean, toned muscles, it is better to work out two hours after breaking fast because the insulin level is high,” she added.

HIGHLIGHTS

The holy month of Ramadan is a new start for many, both spiritually and physically.

Exercising while fasting has benefits: It promotes blood sugar control by reducing insulin resistance, increases growth hormone secretion which is vital for growth, metabolism, weight loss and muscle strength, and aids weight loss by limiting calorie intake and boosting metabolism.

Mashael Fagerah, 35, owner of House of Agility, a studio offering high-intensity interval training (HIIT) and circuit training, said: “You can do everything you normally do during fasting especially if you are used to working out. But if you are a beginner, I would recommend starting carefully with low-impact training.”
She told Arab News that many Muslims took advantage of Ramadan to keep fit.
“Whether before iftar, before sahoor or between them, if you have the time for a workout just do it,” added Fagerah. “At the end of the day, it is better than doing nothing.”
Saudi personal trainer and co-founder of Swish bootcamp, Sohaib Mubarak, 29, said it was important to choose the right kind of fitness regime. “When you haven’t had anything to drink or eat your body is low in fuel and dehydrated. Therefore, performing high-intensity training would harm your body and your health.
“Also, studies show that the difference in results is insignificant between exercising in a fasted or a fed state,” he added.
Mubarak recommended low-intensity cardio for a short period of time. “That is 60 percent to 70 percent of maximum heart rate. By doing that you won’t sweat much and get dehydrated.”
He said people often wrongly related not eating to weight loss, when infact they should focus more on maintaining a healthy lifestyle rather than watching the weighing scales.
“In my opinion Ramadan is like any other month, because losing weight and having a good shape is about changing your eating habits and lifestyle for life not only for one month. One month is not enough to create a tremendous transformation. It’s all about consistency,” Mubarak told Arab News.
Saudi fitness trainer and owner of B. Bros gym, Rayan Bashawri, 27, stressed the importance of listening to the body’s needs and capabilities.
“So many studies have been done about fasted training or training on an empty stomach, and it shows different thoughts depending on what kind of athlete you are or what kind of sport you are doing.
“But my opinion is to listen to your body and do what feels right for you. It’s not healthier to do fasted training but it’s not bad for you either. You can reach your goal either way,” he told Arab News.
The number of people taking out gym subscriptions often shoots up during Ramadan.
Bashawri said: “Right after Ramadan is the time when people travel, and it’s a beach season as well, so obviously everyone wants to look good. The ages of those hitting the gym at this time of the year are from 18-30.”
Fasting was a great opportunity to lose weight, but Bashawri noted that staying up late and sleeping during the day was not ideal. He also warned people not to over-exert themselves if exercising during fasting as it could cause injury and dehydration.

This article was first published in Arab News

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Rights and benefits of the Saudi ‘Green Card’

Time: May 20, 2019  

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The Kingdom is continuing its development and reform plans within Vision 2030 to develop its economy and enhance the attractiveness of its investment environment. (AFP)
  • New visa move will allow residents and expatriates to play a more active role in Saudi economy
  • Media reports suggest the “Privileged Iqama” could cost as much as SR800,000 for a long-term version or SR100,000 for the one-year version

JEDDAH: The Um Al-Qura newspaper, the official gazette of the Saudi government, has published new information concerning the laws and regulations of the Privileged Iqama, widely known as the Saudi “Green Card.” It also carried the conditions under which the Iqama can be canceled.
Following the announcement of the Saudi Cabinet’s approval of the Privileged Iqama residency permit, as previously reported by Arab News, the new information offers a further look at the Privileged Resident Permit (iqama) scheme.
The iqama was first proposed in 2016 by Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman and was approved by the Cabinet last week. It will for the first time allow foreign nationals to work and live in Saudi Arabia without a sponsor.
The scheme will enable expatriates to permanently reside, own property and invest in the Kingdom. An authorized draft of the new Privileged Iqama system offers a number of benefits to highly skilled expatriates and owners of capital funds that will not require a Saudi sponsor.
A special committee has been given 90 days to determine regulations governing the mechanisms of the scheme, such as fees for applicants, which have not been yet determined by the authorities.
Fahad bin Juma, vice chairman of the Shoura Council Financial Committee said that eligibility for the Saudi Green Card will be determined by a number of bodies headed by the Ministry of Commerce and Investment, as reported by Al-Watan newspaper.
He also added that in order to be eligible, applicants must possess scientific or professional skills that are not abundantly available in the Kingdom, or they should be company owners who can invest in the country.
The holder of the Privileged Iqama will be deemed resident for the purpose of applying other statutory provisions, especially tax provisions, regardless of how much time he spends outside the Kingdom in the course of the year.
The applicant must be over 21 years of age, must have a valid passport, must not have a criminal record, and must provide a health report dated within 6 months of the application presenting proof that the applicant is free of infectious diseases. In the case of applications from within the Kingdom, the applicant must obtain a legal resident permit before applying.
The Privilege Iqama rights include possession of private means of transport and any other movable properties that an expat is allowed to acquire as per the Saudi law, employment in private sector establishments and transfer between them (this includes the beneficiary’s family members) except for occupations and jobs from which non-Saudi nationals are banned. The rights also include freedom to leave the Kingdom and return to it independently, use of the queues designated for Saudi nationals when entering and exiting the Kingdom through its ports, and doing business under the foreign investment system.
Under the system, two categories are provided to applicants, an extended iqama and temporary iqama subject to renewal.
Upon approval of the application, according to Article 5, the applicant must pay the fees specified by the designated authorities; the holder will be deemed resident for the purpose of applying other statutory requirements, especially the tax provisions, regardless of how much time he spends outside the Kingdom in the course of the year.
The Privileged Iqama does not entitle the holder to Saudi citizenship.
The holder of the Privileged Iqama, will enjoy several rights, including residence in Saudi Arabia with his family, the right to issue visitor’s visas for relatives as defined by the MOI regulations, the recruitment of domestic workers, the possession of property for residential, commercial and industrial purposes with the exclusion of Makkah, Madinah and border areas as per the regulations. The holder will also be able to utilize property in Makkah and Madinah for a period not exceeding 99 years.
The Ministries of Justice and Commerce and Investment shall establish the necessary mechanisms to ensure the beneficiary’s access to an instrument of utilization issued by the Notary Public. This right will be enforceable by transfer to others according to the rules set by the committee.
Saudi Arabia’s minister of Economy and Planning, Mohammad Al-Tuwaijri, said that the Privilege Iqama law approved by the Saudi Cabinet confirms that the Kingdom is continuing its development and reform plans in accordance with Vision 2030 to develop its economy and enhance the attractiveness of its investment environment.
The Privilege Iqama aims to make residents and expatriates an active part of the Saudi economy, promote consumption growth by increasing quality purchasing power and economic activity in various sectors, establish more small and medium enterprises, and generate jobs for Saudi citizens.
The Privileged Iqama can be canceled if the holder did not comply with the obligations stipulated in Article 7 of the law, waivered his residency, and/or passed away or was no longer eligible.
Several matters could lead to the cancelation of the Iqama, such as providing false information in the application, a conviction for a crime punishable by imprisonment for a period exceeding 60 days and/or a fine exceeding SR100,000, or a judicial decision to deport the holder from the Kingdom.
The cancelation or termination of the Privilege Iqama does not entail the transfer of the rights and benefits, obtained in accordance with Article 2 of the law, to the holder’s family. However, if a family member met the conditions of this law and its regulations, he may apply for the Privileged Iqama.
In the event of the cancelation or termination of the holder’s Iqama or any of his family members, the Privilege Iqama Center will, in coordination with the designated authorities, consider and remedy any consequences that may result therefrom in accordance with the law and its regulations.

This article was first published in Arab News

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What does the Saudi ‘green card’ mean for entrepreneurs?

Time: May 16, 2019  

Call it the “Privileged Iqama” system or “Saudi green card,” the end result is still the same. This new residency scheme that has just been approved by the Saudi Cabinet will allow skilled foreigners, capital investors and entrepreneurs to live and work in Saudi Arabia without the need for a sponsor.

Having lived in the US, the UK and other countries in my youth and adulthood, I saw the impact of residency schemes that encourage people to migrate for opportunities, and experienced first-hand the growth that these schemes brought to these countries. I am very optimistic that this Saudi scheme will also bring more non-oil dependent economic growth and prosperity to our country, that will help us achieve our 2030 vision.

So what will this scheme mean for foreign entrepreneurs wanting to enter the Saudi market? Well, first and foremost, it will allow them to freely declare their actual status as “entrepreneurs,” and work full time on their startups without taking a full-time day job in order to have legal status in Saudi. That alone is a big burden lifted. Focusing on their startups is what will take entrepreneurs to the next level, and expand their businesses. Giving them the freedom to do what they need to expand their businesses and recruit who they see fit is essential.

Speaking to my American co-founder, Tim Abbott, at our company Upskillable about what this may mean to him as a part-time entrepreneur in Saudi, was revealing. Tim told me: “I think this scheme will bring a wave of innovation to the Kingdom, and encourage many bright minds to set up shop here. Additionally, some expats believe it will eliminate the exploitation they feel has happened in the past when trying to start businesses with local partners with no legal framework. Furthermore, it will allow entrepreneurs to build some of their innovative ideas in the Kingdom, instead of going to other jurisdictions when they don’t really want to do business in those places. The excitement around this new development is contagious and people are simply waiting for the details to be ironed out.”

This is going to be a big economic stimulus for Saudi Arabia.

• Dr. Taghreed Al-Saraj is a best-selling Saudi author, an international public speaker and an entrepreneurship mentor.

This article was first published in Arab News

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Saudi cabinet approves new expatriate residency scheme

Time: May 15, 2019  

Saudi Arabia’s cabinet approved a “green card”-style residency scheme on Tuesday, which allows expatriates to get permanent residency in Kingdom for the first time. (Shutterstock/File Photo)
  • Privileged Iqama system offers benefits to highly skilled expatriates and owners of capital funds
  • Different from existing iqama system, because residents would not require Saudi sponsor

RIYADH: Saudi Arabia’s cabinet approved the “Privileged Iqama” residency scheme on Tuesday, which allows expatriates to live and work in the Kingdom without the need of a local sponsor (Kafeel) for the first time.

Plans for the scheme were discussed and rubber-stamped earlier this month by the Shoura Council.

The new Privileged Iqama system offers benefits to highly skilled expatriates and owners of capital funds.

It is different from the existing iqama system, because residents would not require a Saudi sponsor or employe.

The new residency scheme — commonly referred to as the Saudi “green card” — was first mentioned by Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman nearly three years ago as part of the ambitious Vision 2030 plan to open up the kingdom and diversify its economy.

This article was first published in Arab News

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Saudi Arabia denies move to impose fee on remittances

September 04, 2018

RIYADH-

Saudi Arabia’s Ministry of Finance has dismissed as baseless reports suggesting that the kingdom plans to impose charges on expatriates’ remittances.
It reaffirmed its commitment to the free transfer of capital, including expatriates’ remittances, provided they are done through the recognised legal channels and in accordance with the established world-class standards and practices, said a Saudi Press Agency report.
This is in line with Vision 2030 which will bolster the competitive edge of the economy and its appeal to foreign investment, it added.

This article was first published in  Trade Arabia

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Veteran Arab News reporter signs off after 31 years as a journalist in Saudi Arabia

Apr 20, 2018 

  • Mohammed Rasooldeen began his career at a young age in his native Sri Lanka, before moving to the Kingdom in 1987

JEDDAH: Arab News recently said goodbye to Mohammed Rasooldeen, a senior reporter in its Riyadh bureau, who has retired after a journalism career in Saudi Arabia stretching back more than 30 years.

He first arrived in Saudi Arabia from Sri Lanka in 1987, when he joined the now defunct “Riyadh Daily” English-language newspaper.

“The newspaper was only two years old at the time, in its infancy,” said Rasooldeen. “It was a tough time for us to try to popularize the newspaper when Arab News had already taken deep roots.

“It was a great struggle to raise the profile of the paper but it became a popular daily among the expat and diplomatic communities. We drew them in with a page called ‘Diplomat’s Corner,’ where we published stories and photographs of their diplomatic events.

“I also edited a weekly supplement in Tamil called Tamil Malar, which was a big hit among the Tamil speaking community in the Kingdom. Talaat Wafa and Dr. Saad Al-Bazei were the best editors in chief of “Riyadh Daily” I served under during the time.”

On Dec. 31, 2003, “Riyadh Daily” was closed down by its publisher, Al-Yamamah Press Establishment.

“No sooner had it ceased publishing than Khaled Almaeena, the editor in chief of Arab News, called and asked me to work for the newspaper,” said Rasooldeen. “Almaeena gave me more than enough support to carry out my duties at Arab News with ease and great satisfaction.

“It was an interesting job to work as a senior reporter in the capital. It was a great opportunity to meet foreign leaders, diplomats and distinguished visitors who came to the Kingdom. Since Arab News was well established, my reports reached a wider audience.”

Rasooldeen’s native Sri Lanka was never far from his thoughts, though. He started working there at a young age as a freelance reporter for national dailies, eventually becoming editor of the Iqra newspaper, which was published in three languages — Sinhala, Tamil and English — through the Maligawatta Young Men’s Muslim Association.

The Sri Lankan government honored him with a national Best Journalist award. He was also principal of a government college in Colombo, of Darussalam College, and Kotahena Senior Secondary College.

“In parallel with the news reporting in Saudi Arabia, I was able to serve my Sri Lankan community as well,” said Rasooldeen. “I was one of those responsible for setting up the Sri Lankan Expats Society, for which I served as its president. I also served the community school as chairman of the board of directors.”

Rasooldeen has seen some remarkable changes in Saudi Arabia in the 31 years since he arrived.

“When I came to the Kingdom I was in early 40s and now I am over 70,” he said. “Riyadh has witnessed tremendous changes and developments in its physical structures.

“The new economic reforms introduced by the government have paved the way for more confidence among the Saudi young men and women.”

Although his time as a journalist for Arab News has come to an end, he believes the future is rosy for the newspaper.

“Under Editor in Chief Faisal J. Abbas I can see a bright future for Arab News,” said Rasooldeen. “He has not only given the newspaper a new look but also the content has been changed to deliver a wider coverage. The newspaper looks very attractive and readable, and is covering a wider range of stories.”

This article was first published in the  Arab News

350,000 new jobs for Saudis, expats

Apr 13, 2018

 

RIYADH — More than 350,000 new jobs are likely to be created in the Kingdom, said an official report issued by the General Authority for Statistics (GaStat).

Of these jobs 140,000 will go to Saudis while the rest (210,000) will be occupied by expatriate workers, it added.

GaStat said that last year there were 116,000 vacant positions, including 35,000 in the trade, hospitality and restaurants sector and 21,600 in the construction sector.

GaStat expects nearly 107,000 new jobs in the trade, hospitality and restaurant sectors, 66,000 in the construction sector and over 56,000 in the industry sector.

The agriculture and hunting sector is expected to have 7,588 new jobs while the vocational and scientific sector will have 7,973 jobs and the health and social work sector 13,272 jobs, the authority said.

The GaStat report is good news for Saudis as well as for expats.

The unemployment rate among Saudis rose to 12.7 percent in the first quarter of 2017, continuing its steady climb as the economy grapples with the fallout of low oil prices.

The latest statistics show that 906,552 Saudis are seeking jobs. Of the Saudi job seekers, around 219,000 are men and 687,500 are women.

The Kingdom’s Vision 2030 aims to cut the unemployment rate to seven percent by 2030, among a raft of other targets.

Authorities are also introducing new fees and sector restrictions to encourage the employment of Saudis while reducing the Kingdom’s reliance on its 11 million foreign workers.

The Saudi economy has added about 433,000 jobs a year on average over the past 10 years, but non-Saudis have taken up most of these new jobs, according to research by Jadwa Investment.

The total number of Saudi job seekers in the first quarter of 2017 was 1,075,933, of whom 216,352 were men and 859,581 women.

The highest percentage (34.2%) of Saudi job seekers was in the age group 25-29 years.

Half of Saudi job seekers are university graduates, said a report carried by the Saudi Press Agency.

This article was first published in the  Saudi Gazette

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