by Abbas Al Lawati and Vivian Nereim
Saudi Arabia will prevent foreigners from taking jobs in the country’s shopping malls, as it seeks to boost employment opportunities for citizens as part of a long-term economic overhaul.
The decision is expected to generate about 35,000 jobs, and companies will be given sufficient time to deal with foreign labor contracts, Labor Ministry spokesman Khaled Aba Al Khail told the Al Arabiya news channel. Market conditions will determine how and when it goes into effect, according to a statement posted on the official Saudi Press Agency.
Deputy Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman made job creation for Saudis a key component of the kingdom’s plan to end the economy’s oil dependence and reliance on expatriate labor. That priority is challenging in the short-term as the government cuts costs and growth slows, making itespecially hard for young Saudis — nearly half of the population is under 25 — to find work.
The unemployment rate for Saudi nationals rose to 12.3 percent in the fourth quarter, from 11.5 percent a year earlier. The rate was 34.5 percent for Saudi women.
The ministry’s decision specified that businesses must comply with an earlier order that limited employment in shops that sell women’s items to Saudi women.