Saudi construction firms cut down on expat labour

Expats employed with construction firms in KSA claim their employers plan to replace them with Saudis.


Saudi construction firms are expected to cut the number of expatriate workers within their ranks and replace them with nationals.

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Expatriate engineers in Saudi Arabia claim their employers plan to replace foreign workers with nationals to fulfil Nitaqat programme requirements, according to Arab News.

The Nitaqat programme, which aims to boost employment among nationals, requires that seven percent of construction companies’ staff are Saudi, the newspaper reported.

“My company intends to lay off five technicians and two engineers to meet its seven percent Saudisation quota as set by the Labour Ministry,” Nader Abdul Atti, an Egyptian engineer who works on construction projects in Riyadh, was quoted as saying.

“Administrative positions in construction companies are suitable for Saudis. However, expatriates are better qualified to work in technical positions due to their experience in this area,” construction company owner Salah Aiyed told Arab News.

The nationalisation program has already come under fire for forcing small and mid-sized construction companies out of the market in the Kingdom.

At least 200,000 private firms in Saudi Arabia have been driven out of business, unable to keep up with the steep visa fees for foreign labour.

Contractors requiring 50 or more visas for expat workers have to procure them at the rate of $2,132 each. In March this year, such expenses sent up to half of the country’s small and medium-sized contractors out of business, it was reported.

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