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Gradual Saudization of jobs in the market. Business is once again reportedly brisk at souks all over the Kingdom.
Riyadh, 25th August 2001

  A number of gold and jewelry shops closed down by authorities for not meeting Saudization conditions have now reopened. This follows the introduction of a new law last Thursday allowing for only the gradual Saudization of jobs in the market. Business is once again reportedly brisk at souks all over the Kingdom.

A tour of markets in Riyadh, Jeddah and Dammam by Arab News reporters found that most of the jewelry shops previously closed down had now reopened. Many had remained shuttered for two weeks because they were unable to find experienced Saudis to work in them.

According to the newly revised law, only 30 percent of the staff need to be Saudized this year.

However, some Saudis have complained that gold market employers are offering smaller salaries since the issuance of the new law.

“This is why Saudis aren’t interested in working in jewelry shops,” one said. “Earlier, they were offering between SR3,000 and SR3,500. Since the new law was introduced, they have reduced the salaries to between SR2,000 and SR2,500.”

According to the earlier ruling that came into effect on July 22, only Saudis were allowed to work in gold and jewelry shops in the Kingdom. The move was aimed at providing some 20,000 jobs to Saudis in the first stage. However, the government decided on Wednesday to modify the policy of employing only Saudis in the gold market. The Manpower Council said the policy will now be implemented in stages, rather than Saudizing all jobs in one go.

Interior Minister Prince Naif, who is chairman of the council, endorsed the decision after taking account of the reality of the market situation.

In accordance with the new law, the Saudization of jobs in the market will take at least two years to complete.

“Efforts should be made to increase the percentage of Saudi employees to reach 50 percent by the beginning of next year, and 100 percent the following year,” Abdul Wahid Al-Humaid, secretary-general of the Manpower Council, told Arab News.

Saudi traders have welcomed the new decision, saying it will encourage businessmen to train and employ more Saudis and achieve the target of full Saudization of jobs in the sector before the grace period ends. Saud Al-Khathlan, member of the precious metals committee at the Riyadh Chamber of Commerce and Industry, endorsed the idea of Saudizing jobs in the market gradually.

Jameel Farsi, head of a group representing senior gold businessmen in Jeddah, disclosed that the first batch of Saudi trainees at the Jeddah Chamber of Commerce and Industry will join the market next month to take up various jobs.

The chamber is planning to train more than 3,000 young Saudis over the coming years.

Some traders in the Eastern Province said the percentage of Saudi employees in the sector had reached 90 percent, and that they were receiving salaries up to SR10,000 a month.

Muhammad Hussein Al-Namir, an official at Al-Ajlan gold market in Dammam, said 40 percent of salesmen at their shops were Saudis. But he pointed out that most workers at their gold factories were expatriates due to lack of experienced Saudis wanting to take up the jobs.

Saudi investors engaged in gold and jewelry business have ruled out replacing the Saudis they had recruited after the first law by expatriate workers.

“These Saudi employees are spread around in various shops and we are still in need of a large number of Saudis,” they told Arab News.

Although no exact figure of Saudis working in the sector is available, unofficial estimates say they currently account for only 10 percent of about 60,000 employees. Chambers of commerce in various parts of the Kingdom are now offering course to train Saudis for various jobs in the market.

There are 6,000 gold and jewelry shops in the Kingdom, the largest gold consumer in the Middle East, with annual sales estimated at 174 tons, or a per head monthly average of 15 grams. The demand for gold in the Saudi market rose by nine percent during the second quarter of this year compared to the same period last year.

According to a recent study, 60 percent of gold shoppers in the Kingdom are men and 40 percent women. Saudis account for 70 percent of the consumers, with a market share of SR6.7 billion.

Source: © SPA

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25 August 2001 07:02:55 PM

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