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Expel expats in retail sector to create jobs for Saudis, says economist.

Summary: RIYADH: The Kingdom's retail market should be freed from the stranglehold of non-Saudis and shopping hours should be rationalized, a Saudi economist suggested as a solution to rein in galloping unemployment among Saudis.


"Unemployment is, undoubtedly, one of the toughest challenges facing our local economy. The situation calls for ending the domination of non-Saudis in areas where employment opportunities abound," Abdul Rahman Al-Homaid told Al-Riyadh newspaper.

"For instance, the retail sector, which is a vital part of any country's domestic economy and an inexhaustible source of employment, is currently monopolized by non-Saudis. The workers in the sector should be replaced by local hands which could be possible by offering necessary training and support to Saudis," he said, adding that retail shops should close early in the night as happens in European countries.

Many young Saudis find it hard to work in retail shops because they continue operating late into the night, he said.

Current regulations governing the retail market do not serve the ongoing Saudization process, he said, adding that laws should be amended with the objective of breaking the expatriate control of the market.

"The current practice of excessive labor recruitment in the Kingdom puts the Saudi workforce in unfair competition with foreign workers with the ultimate result of exacerbating the already worse unemployment situation in the country," he said.

He also called for most jobs to be reserved for Saudis.

He stressed the need to rein in inflation, which has reduced the actual purchasing power of people and made living difficult for them.

Ihsan Bu-Hulaiga, another economist, demanded new regulations to stimulate the domestic private sector so that it can provide more employment to Saudis. "The government should continue motivating the private sector to diversify sources of domestic income. It should also regulate the supply of foreign workers in the local job market in such a way that Saudis can find enough employment opportunities," Bu-Hulaiga said.

In his view this is not the right time to unpeg the Saudi riyal from the US dollar, as there is no alternative currency to replace it at the moment. He also underscored the significance of launching a Gulf currency, especially when the euro is proving to be weak against the looming economic crisis in Europe.

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Publication:Arab News (Jeddah, Saudi Arabia)
Date:Jan 2, 2011
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