Why are there so many foreign workers in Saudi Arabia? Why are there so many unemployed Saudis? The Minister of Labor explains it quite clearly: Eight six percent of the jobs needed to be done in Saudi Arabia “are not fit” for Saudis to perform!
I really don’t know where this attitude of ‘unfit jobs’ came into Saudi culture. Before the oil boom, Saudis had a very clear choice: work or starve. Now, it appears that young Saudis survey the job market as they would a box of chocolates, delicately picking out the prime pieces, those that promise high salaries and prestige for little or no work.
Yes, there are jobs people do not like to do. I would not, of choice, work in a sewage treatment plant, for example. But if the options were to work in a sewage plant or to rely on government handouts, I’d be working in the sewage plant. Or digging ditches, or building walls, or fixing cars. It’s quite astonishing to see a nation operate on the principle of “Oh, that’s dirty! I won’t do it,” in the face of growing unemployment and the massive shift of money out of its economy to other countries.
The thing is, honorable work is honorable. This includes working as a plumber, a bus driver, a ditch digger. They offer no moral hazard. The only things they don’t offer is high salaries and a sense of prestige. The salary question can be answered by instituting a realistic minimum wage that applies to all who labor in the Kingdom. The question of prestige, though, is one that can only be resolved by a change in attitude. It’s particularly frustrating to see Saudi society condemn on contemn those who would take jobs “beneath the dignity” that society places on them. Some Saudi women, for example, are willing to take on jobs as domestic workers. They need to earn an income. Instead, society tells them it’s better for them and their children to starve than to take on “unfit” jobs. Ridiculous.
Were entire categories of workers to suddenly disappear, Saudi cities would be piled high with trash, sewers and septic tanks would overflow, no structures would be built until Saudis realized that honest work is honest work.
86% jobs ‘not fit for Saudis’
JEDDAH: ARAB NEWS
Labor Minister Adel Fakeih said yesterday that 86 percent of jobs done by expatriates are not suitable for Saudis. However, he said the new Saudization drive was aimed at creating more jobs for two million unemployed citizens.
Speaking to Al-Sharq daily, he said 85 percent of Saudi job seekers are women. “Moreover, 330,000 Saudis, who graduate from secondary schools every year, also look for jobs,” he added.
He said the new labor laws would help flush out coverup businesses that constitute 42 percent of small enterprises in the country.
“There are about eight million expatriate workers and 86 percent of them (6 million) do menial jobs that do not suit Saudis,” the minister said. Annual foreign transfers of expatriates would cross SR 130 billion by the end of this year, he added.
Fakeih said 68 percent of foreign workers in the Kingdom receive a monthly salary of less than SR 1,000 and 18 percent less than SR 2,000. “This means 86 percent of foreigners get low salaries.”