Saudi Arabia is banning foreign workers from mobile phone sales and services jobs and handing them to its own citizens struggling to cope with falling oil prices.
Mobile phone stores have been given six months to comply — three months to replace at least half of their staff with locals, Reuters reports.
The government is under heavy pressure to create more jobs for Saudis as the economy slows because of low oil prices, threatening to boost unemployment, which was officially 11.5 percent among local citizens last year.
The vast majority of jobs in Saudi Arabia’s retail and services sectors are currently held by foreign workers from southeast Asia and the Indian subcontinent.
They are generally paid much lower wages than Saudi citizens.
Some jobs such as human resources managers and security officers have long been reserved for Saudi nationals but the ministry’s decree suggests the government is now willing to intervene more aggressively in the labor market to get Saudis into work.
State funds will be used to support companies facing higher costs because of the decree, the ministry said.
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