All Expats to Be Fired from Jobs in Saudi Arabia

Last month we reported that Saudi Arabia’s new green card policy was going to be for ‘investors and the scientifically skilled’ only. Just a matter of weeks later and the country’s Ministry of Civil Service has announced that all government departments must terminate contracts of expat employees within three years. This means foreigners working in public sectors such as education, police, public transit and health care will all find themselves unemployed.

Civil Services Minister Abdullah Al-Melfi announced the news during a meeting in early May. The meeting discussed plans to implement the ‘job nationalisation plan’ by 2020. Considering the large numbers of English teachers, technical defence specialists, doctors and engineers hailing from far flung countries, ‘Saudisation’ of public jobs could be detrimental.

According to the ministry there are approximately 70,000 expats work in Saudi’s public sector. “There will be no expatriate working in the government after 2020,” stated Al-Melfi. He continued, “The complete nationalisation of government jobs is an important objective of the National Transformation Programme 2020 and the Kingdom’s Vision 2030.”

What is the National Transformation Programme 2020?

To ensure the Kingdom achieves the goals set out in Vision 2030, the National Transformation Programme 2020 outlines a number of initiatives to be put in place by different ministries. It is a way of preparing the Kingdom for the post-oil era it now faces. Here has what has been revealed so far:


  • Kingdom to rank 50th on World Bank’s Contract Enforcement Indicator (currently 85th)
  • Plan to improve Saudi’s global ranking in regards to ease of doing business from position 82 to 20
  • 80% of Justice Ministry’s services to be delivered electronically
  • Female workforce to increase from 23% to 28%

Public Finances

  • Non-oil revenue to rise by 141 billion riyals
  • Public sector salaries to fall to 456 billion riyals (currently 480 billion riyals)
  • Water and electricity subsidies to be cut by 200 billion riyals
  • Percentage of new jobs in the civil service to drop from 1% to 5%
  • Taxes to be imposed on ‘harmful products’


  • 70% of Saudi nationals to have a unified digital medical record
  • Private sector contributions to healthcare spending to increase to 35%
  • Reform and restructure of primary healthcare to cost 4.7 billion riyals

Investment, Jobs and Exports

  • 450,000 jobs to be created
  • Non-oil exports to climb from 185 billion royals to 330 riyals by 2020
  • Foreign investment to rise from 30 billion riyals to 70 billion riyals
  • A 300 million riyal 5-year budget to create a ‘centre of excellence’ to support the privatisation of state-owned companies
  • Information technology proportion of non-oil GDP to double to 2.24%
  • Media industry to contribute 6.64 billion riyals

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