Those who planned to go to Saudi Arabia in search of a job will have to change the intentions. The Saudi Government is very much anxious about the increasing number of foreign workers in the country, that is why it is decided to reduce the number of foreigners living there by 10%. Unemployment level in the kingdom is currently high enough and makes up 9%. The Saudi authorities hope that when the number of foreigners working in the country is reduced, citizens of the country will get more work places. What is more, if official calculations are taken into consideration, the government plans to create an artificial manpower deficit. Isn’t the logic familiar to you?
At present, there are 7 million foreigners living and working in Saudi Arabia, they make up approximately two thirds of the kingdom’s manpower. It means that Saudis won’t do without these workers. And such is the situation in the country outlining against the background of harsh restrictions introduced there for foreign workers. For instance, foreigners are prohibited to work as taxi drivers and men under 40 are not allowed to sell ladies’ jewelry.
Recently complaints of Saudis have become intensified: wages in Saudi Arabia used to be the world highest till recently, but now they are steadily reducing. For instance, annual income of a Saudi citizen made up 20 thousand dollars approximately in the early 1990s, but now it makes up not more than 7 thousand dollars. At that, unemployment level is increasing even among the youth, the most economically active part of the population. Dozens, if not thousands of graduates from institutes of higher education cannot find professionally adequate jobs after graduation.
But worsening of the living standard is not the only problem in Saudi Arabia. The main problem of the Saudi government (and the 9/11 events revealed the problem is pressing for other governments of the world as well) is that popularity of extremist organizations is increasing. Young people who fail to find jobs are easy preys for leaders of radical organizations who blame the government for kow-towing the West, for betrayal of Moslems and certainly for the increasing number of foreigners in the country. Many experts have been saying long ago already that the ruling dynasty must take some measures to reduce the tension in Saudi Arabia. For the time being, the government has no notion what measures can be done in this situation. On the one hand, Saudis acutely react to accusations blaming the country for sponsoring terrorism (for instance, when it was declared that Saudi Arabia closed accounts in American banks). On the other hand, Saudis don’t dare to publicly declare their intention to fight against extremist organizations. In fact, the government is actually fighting against such organizations, but it is done secretly and selectively, which in its turn adds popularity to extremists as such measures rank extremists as martyrs for belief.
On the whole, there is only one solution to the problem suggested: it is believed that reduction in the number of foreigners working in the country may be an effective way out. By the way, the process is to take much time – it will last till 2012. The government of Saudi Arabia promised that private capital will have an access to such branches as communications, transport, education, power industry, insurance business and the press. And foreign workers from poor Asiatic countries coming to Saudi Arabia in search of a job will be deported from the country.
Vasily Bubnov PRAVDA.Ru
Translated by Maria Gousseva
Read the original in Russian: http://world.pravda.ru/world/2003/5/15/39/6499_Saud.html