Time to support young Saudi entrepreneurs

A graph in a local newspaper outlined the following statistics:

• 1.9 million visas issued last year.
• 1.7 million employed Saudis.
• 12.1 percent unemployment rate.
• 33 percent unemployment rate for women.
• 10.5 million expatriates.
• 700,000 jobless Saudis.
• 54 colleges providing technical and vocational education.

I am sure that these are the latest figures and they come at a time when Deputy Crown Prince Muhammad bin Salman, second deputy premier and minister of defense, has called for an integrated strategy to link education and training with the job market. According to Saudi Vision 2030, the rate of unemployment should come down to seven percent.

Now, of course, there are writers who in order to exhibit patriotism will shout about the need to replace expatriates. They cannot accept the fact that there are 700,000 jobless Saudis while there are 10.5 million expatriates in the Kingdom, even though the majority of them work in menial jobs that a Saudi would not do even if he was dying of hunger.

And then, of course, 54 colleges providing technical and vocational education should be thoroughly audited by an impartial task force to confirm whether or not they have been effective in turning out graduates who are qualified technicians, electricians and industrial workers.

We have to be bold and frank enough to admit that many years have been wasted. Now we have to rise to the occasion and incorporate all of our ideas and efforts to make Saudi Vision 2030 a success.

We have to be bold and frank enough to admit that many years have been wasted. Now we have to rise to the occasion and incorporate all of our ideas and efforts to make Saudi Vision 2030 a success

Khaled Almaeena

Creating jobs

Saudization by itself will not solve the problem of unemployment; the key element is the creation of new jobs. But how can you do that without a strong and vibrant small- and middle-enterprise economy?

And this is not at all possible because of a major stumbling block – a heartless and obstinate bureaucracy! And while Dr. Ghassan al-Sulaiman the newly appointed Governor of the General Authority For Small And Medium Enterprises has soothing words, yet I a born optimist remain skeptical. Dr. Al-Sulaiman is a determined and sincere person and comes from the business class, but unless ministries fall in line and shape up, his organization will not succeed.

The creation of jobs is vital for societal development and this should be our topmost priority and security concern. Let us not scream about Saudization. Instead, let us assist those Saudis who are willing to labor in order to achieve success in their own enterprise. The Ministry of Commerce, SAGIA and others should make it clear that they support young Saudi entrepreneurs. Banks and wealthy people should help by being assets in “startups”.

And the bureaucracy should be told that hindrances and obstacles will no longer be tolerated. The young in our country have had enough.

This article was first published in the Saudi Gazette on December 18, 2016.
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Khaled Almaeena is a veteran Saudi journalist, commentator, businessman and the editor-at-large of the Saudi Gazette. Almaeena has held a broad range of positions in Saudi media for over thirty years, including CEO of a PR firm, Saudi Television news anchor, talk show host, radio announcer, lecturer and journalist. As a journalist, Almaeena has represented Saudi media at Arab summits in Baghdad, Morocco and elsewhere. In 1990, he was one of four journalists to cover the historic resumption of diplomatic ties between Saudi Arabia and Russia. He also traveled to China as part of this diplomatic mission. Almaeena's political and social columns appear regularly in Gulf News, Asharq al-Aswat, al-Eqtisadiah, Arab News, Times of Oman, Asian Age and The China Post. He can be reached at kalmaeena@saudigazette.com.sa and followed on Twitter: @KhaledAlmaeena.

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Last Update: Wednesday, 20 May 2020 KSA 09:53 - GMT 06:53
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