Coronavirus: Around 1.2 million foreign workers to leave Saudi Arabia, says report

General view of Riyadh city, after the Saudi government eased a curfew, following the outbreak of the coronavirus, in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, May 7, 2020. (File photo: Reuters)

There could be as many as 1.2 million foreign workers leaving the Saudi Arabian labor market in 2020, a report from Jadwa Investment Company found.

Hospitality, food services, administrative and support activities, which include rent and lease activities, travel agencies, security and building services, will be the most affected and will see the highest exit of foreigners, Jadwa said, the Saudi Gazette reported.

However, despite the expat exodus, the unemployment rate among Saudi nationals will remain unchanged by the end of 2020, at 12 percent, it added.

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In particular, travel, hotels, restaurants, tourism and environment sectors are expected to be hard hit, with a full recovery not expected in the near future, even as the Kingdom moves to ease coronavirus lockdown measures.

Jadwa noted that Saudi Arabia’s unemployment scheme, SANED, will be instrumental in allowing Saudi citizens to keep their jobs in the private sector, and further initiatives to replace foreign labor with Saudis will add support to unemployment levels.

Overall, the business environment is expected to improve throughout the second half of this year, with the biggest bump in the fourth quarter, which will have a positive effect on employment of citizens, despite lingering damage caused by the coronavirus, the Gazette reported.

Saudi nationals will benefit from the departure of foreign nationals, taking jobs that may have previously held by foreigners. Jadwa also noted that as the economy recovers from the coronavirus, nationals will also have the opportunity to take jobs that may have normally been given to foreign nationals, providing more opportunities for employment, the Gazette concluded.

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Last Update: Tuesday, 16 June 2020 KSA 15:01 - GMT 12:01
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