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Authorities have re-imposed a ban on foreigners under 40 years of age working in thousands of jewelry shops in the Kingdom

RIYADH, 6 October — Authorities have re-imposed a ban on foreigners under 40 years of age working in thousands of jewelry shops in the Kingdom, a newspaper reported yesterday.

The decision, taken by Interior Minister and Chairman of the Manpower Council Prince Naif, aims at creating more jobs for Saudi nationals, Al-Watan said.

The move comes just a few months after a decision which ordered all jewelry shops to employ only Saudis, which was later postponed because of a lack of trained national manpower.

Violators of the new regulations have been threatened with hefty financial fines and deportation if they are foreign.

Authorities originally issued the directive banning foreigners under 40 from jewelry jobs more than a year ago, ahead of imposing a total ban on expatriate workers in the sector.

According to the earlier ruling that came into effect on July 22, only Saudis were allowed to work in the gold and jewelry shops in the Kingdom. The move was aimed at providing 20,000 new jobs to Saudis in the first stage.

A number of gold and jewelry shops closed down because they did not meet the Saudization conditions, but have since reopened after authorities relaxed the law and allowed only a gradual Saudization of jobs in the market.

The new decision set the legally required percentage of Saudi employees in jewelry shops and factories at not less than 30 percent, to be increased to 50 percent next year and 100 percent the year after.

Traders 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.

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.

Chambers of commerce in various parts of the Kingdom are now offering courses to train Saudis for various jobs in the gold sector. The first batch of Saudi trainees at the Jeddah Chamber of Commerce and Industry joined the job market recently. The chamber is planning to train more than 3,000 young Saudis over the coming years.

There are more than 15 jewelry factories and 700 workshops in Saudi Arabia, in addition to thousands of shops. The size of the market is estimated at more than SR4 billion.

The government has launched a campaign to reduce the number of expatriates in the Kingdom, estimated at around seven million, in order to counter unemployment among Saudi men, which the Saudi American Bank predicts will rise to 15 percent this year. Half of the country’s population of 22 million is below the age of 20.

Two laws came into effect last month ordering corner shops to employ only Saudis and private businesses employing more than 20 people to increase the number of Saudi nationals to 30 percent of the workforce.

Source: Arab News©



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