Expats in Saudi Arabia have been the target of government interest since early 2017. With women finally being granted to right to drive in the country, on the surface, it had appeared that positive changes were being made. However, the new year has brought more bad news for Saudi expats as they are now barred from working in 12 sectors.
In early 2018 the Ministry of Labour and Social Development announced that expatriates would not be able to take employment in certain sectors. This will come into effect from the next Hijri year, which begins on the 11th September 2018.
The decision has been made to allow more opportunities for locals. However, it has been said that the change will not affect the memorandums of understanding signed with different regional governing bodies to restrict jobs to Saudi nationals. Of the 12 million foreign workers predicted to be affected, 30 million are lakh Indians who have resided in the country for generations.
The 12 sectors banned from employing expats are: pastry shops, household utensils shops, men’s supplies, children’s clothes, sale outlets of read-made garments, home furniture and ready-made office supplies stores, carpet shops, car and mobile shops, building merchants, watch shops, optical stores, medical equipment outlets, electronics stores, shops selling car parts.
However, it is understood that the ban will be a phased approach:
As of 11th September 2018 the following sectors will not be able to hire expats:
- Car and motorbike showrooms
- Readymade clothing stores
- Home and office furniture stores
- Home appliances and kitchen utensils stores
As of 9th November 2018 the following sectors will not be able to hire expats:
- Electronics stores
- Watches and clocks stores
- Optics stores
As of 7th January 2019 the following sectors will not be able to hire expats:
- Medical equipment and supplies stores
- Building merchants
- Auto spare parts stores
- Carpet shops
- Sweet shops