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7,000 expats fired by Saudi government

Some 7,000 expatriates have lost their jobs with the Saudi Arabian government, new figures reveal.

According to statistics released by local news providers, thousands of foreign workers have been fired from ministries and state departments this year.

Nothing illegal has occurred under Saudi law, as qualified nationals are allowed to apply for the positions of expats in government services to help redress the balance of more foreigners than locals in the workforce.

It comes after a large push to reduce illegal workers in the kingdom was staged, although it is not thought that any of those fired were working without the proper documentation.

A six-month amnesty asking for illegal employees to get their papers in order or go home ended on November 3rd. It saw a million people leave the country and 150,000 have been deported since it came to an end.

Nearly a third of the population of Saudi Arabia is made up of foreigners – equating to some 8.5 million expats.

The highest numbers of foreigners were employed by the health ministry with 54,062 expats and the education ministry with 14,195, Arab News reports.

After the sackings, these figures are now reduced and will leave other expats with fears over their own job security.

Having been a popular destination for expats for a long time, this latest push is likely to put top talent off applying for jobs in the kingdom.

Tax-free salaries, generous holiday allowances, luxury accommodation and paid education for the children of an expat family are what those who make the move have come to expect.

Locals are now pushing to get a greater proportion of the employment on offer, but having always relied on foreign expertise, the move to hire more Saudis is proving controversial.

Since the move to banish illegal foreign workers began, more than 254,000 Saudi nationals have secured jobs in the kingdom, labour minister Adel Fakeih has announced.

As well as losing jobs, 25 per cent fewer expats have been employed over the same period, the minister added.

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