Saudization shouldn’t compromise international standards

It is time we revise the Saudization strategy and come up with more reasonable laws and regulations

Samar Fatany
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Jobs in government departments and the private sector require monitoring and regular assessments to highlight achievements and shortcomings.

The Ministry of Labor must come up with a different strategy to boost the Saudization process without compromising international standards.


Saudi industries continue to suffer due to a poor level of skills and technical knowhow. Outdated policies have contributed to poor standards of services and have damaged the quality of our industry.

The private sector and the business community continue to be very frustrated with uncompromising laws and regulations.

Samar Fatany

The private sector and the business community continue to be very frustrated with uncompromising laws and regulations.

Employment seekers are frustrated over their inability to qualify for market needs. In spite of the many programs initiated to upgrade the skills of Saudi citizens and the large budget allocated to raise the quality of education, many of our young graduates entering the workforce are still not qualified.

Facing losses

The private sector is facing losses and is failing in applying international standards due to the Saudization policy that compels them to employ unskilled labor.

The Nitaqat program has not succeeded in creating enough jobs to accommodate the large number of unemployed youth.

It has created a negative environment where unproductive citizens, who are not inspired to contribute, have become a burden to the business community.

It is time we revise the Saudization strategy and come up with more reasonable laws and regulations.

Economists and experts in the field assert that the skills of 80 percent of government employees are not utilized.

Impeding productivity

Government laws and regulations impede productivity. There is no mechanism to attract talented employees and most government recruitment is not done in a scientific and professional way.

Many job applicants with high qualifications are turned down and many are employed through nepotism and cronyism.

The government has allocated a huge budget to maintain standards and upgrade public services.

However, without serious training and education to produce qualified skilled labor, all is wasted.

More awareness campaigns are needed to correct negative attitudes and encourage more respect for standards and quality services.

The public must recognize that the services of skilled laborers are vital to our national economy.

Another negative factor is the absence of proper job descriptions. Senior officials are also to blame.

Their refusal to participate in on-the-job training programs and their unwillingness to share in providing proper training and incentives for young employees adds to an already sad situation.

Many government employees seem to forget the fact that they are public servants and believe that the public owes them something instead.

This is despite the fact that King Abdullah has repeatedly asked government employees to serve the public and cater to their needs.


Sadly, we have neglected to monitor quality control. Public services suffer due to weak managerial and maintenance personnel.

The Saudization policy should be applied to replace incompetent officials with more creative and progressive experts, who can provide more innovative strategies for administrative services, operations, emergency rules, maintenance and technical work, and all crucial elements required for the implementation of international standards of services rendered to citizens.

Meanwhile, public complaints are ignored and poor monitoring and supervision to implement standards in services rendered continue with no serious attempts to address the problem.

Government resources are wasted, outdated rules and dysfunctional systems are obstacles that block reforms.

We need to apply an innovative strategy and establish centers for research and creativity in every government department and in all Saudi industries.

These centers can offer research on key issues, and provide better solutions to improve the quality of services.

Decision makers must base their policies on updated research and data in order to address public needs and services.

Officials should connect with experts in the field and engage in dialogue with civil society.

They should be more transparent and collaborate with stakeholders in the community. It is time we replace traditional government departments with “Service Centers” that can address the needs of citizens as they arise.

The staff of these Centers would meet with citizens to determine priorities and eliminate problems.

The Saudization process should be based on adequate strategies. There is a need for private sector collaboration, civic engagement and affirmative action to help us identify the obstacles and provide innovative solutions.

The government must work with the private sector and not against it. An alliance between government and the private sector can facilitate the planning of the Saudization process.

This article was first published in the Saudi Gazette on December 6, 2014.


Samar Fatany is a Chief Broadcaster in the English section at Jeddah Broadcasting Station. Over the past 28 years, she has introduced many news, cultural, and religious programs and has conducted several interviews with official delegations and prominent political personalities visiting the kingdom. Fatany has made significant contributions in the fields of public relations and social awareness in Saudi Arabia and has been involved in activities aiming at fighting extremism and enhancing women’s role in serving society. She has published three books: “Saudi Perceptions & Western Misconceptions,” “Saudi Women towards a new era” and “Saudi Challenges & Reforms.”

Disclaimer: Views expressed by writers in this section are their own and do not reflect Al Arabiya English's point-of-view.
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