Around 35 per cent of Saudi women remained unemployed despite aggressive job campaigns launched by the world’s dominant oil exporter to tackle festering joblessness among citizens, newspapers reported on Thursday.
Joblessness among Saudi men was far lower, standing at around 6.1 per cent at the end of 2012 as women still face social barriers in the conservative Moslem society.
Saudi Minister of Labour Adel Faqih appeared to be blaming local companies for the unemployment problem, which has persisted for decades.
“No Saudi national is employed in 342,000 small firms run by expatriates,” Labor Minister Adel Faqih has said. “Unemployment among Saudi women rose to 35 percent while the percentage among men dropped to 6.1.”
Quoted by the local press, he said a total of 588,000 Saudi men and women have been employed over the last 18 months, thanks to Nitaqat Saudization Programme, a job nationalization camapaign launched by the Kingdom a year ago.
This figure makes up about 83 percent of Saudis employed during the past 30 years,” he said after meeting Prince Khaled Al-Faisal, Emir of Makkah and businessmen.
Faqih stressed that a decision to impose an annual expatriate levy of SR2,400 would stay. He also explained the reason for imposing the levy on each foreigner working at firms where the number of foreigners is higher than Saudis.
“The decision would be instrumental in transforming low-salary jobs to posts with a higher salary attractive to Saudi jobseekers. We also prefer one highly skilled foreigner to 10 unskilled foreigners with low salaries,” he said.
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