Despite being 100% Saudi, expats are said to still lead the retail sector


Riyadh — There are common scenes of expatriate workers standing in front of shops or wandering the souks and their adjacent parking lots in Jeddah, Mecca, Taif and other cities and regions in various parts of the Kingdom.

The views raise doubts among market goers as to whether these foreign workers still hold stakes in these stores, despite the enforcement of 100% Saudiization of retail businesses, according to an Okaz/Saudi Gazette watchdog.

It seems that they engage in the illegal practice of tasattur (concealment) in a different way by deceiving Saudi authorities and customers as well. Some of these workers apparently monitor the selling activities of male and female workers in the markets.

It is clear from the monitoring that there are several expatriate workers still overseeing some of these retail stores, especially the stores selling abayas and ready-to-wear clothes in the popular open markets.

Speaking to Okaz/Saudi Gazette, some citizens – including Saad Al-Thubaiti, Ali Al-Harthy and Khalaf Al-Maliki – expressed surprise and dismay at the presence of a large number of expatriate workers in front of the shops in the Taif markets, despite the fact that the sellers are Saudi men and women.

They exclaimed asking if there is still an agreement and a clandestine relationship between the stores and certain expatriates?

Meanwhile, sources at the Ministry of Human Resources and Social Development told Okaz/Saudi Gazette that the ministry’s oversight teams track and monitor the effective implementation of all ministerial decisions related to the Saudiization through the channels of the ministry, and verify the extent of Saudiization implementation. before taking legal action against offenders.

The sources revealed that the ministry is carrying out necessary procedures against violators, as the retail sector is 100% localized and many female citizens work in the sector, especially in establishments where non-Saudi men do not. are no longer allowed to work.

The ministry has indicated that it will continue to monitor the follow-up of the commitment to saudisization decisions on all activities and facilities. He also stressed the importance of community members’ cooperation in reporting any breaches they were monitoring.

Referring to the question on the presence of illegal expatriate workers in this sector is whether it is due to job abandonments of Saudi women workers, the ministry sources indicated that the nature of work in the retail sector is increasing. from time to time job rotation requests.

The sources said that work in the retail field targets specific categories of female job seekers, and many of them turn to other jobs after gaining experience and practical abilities and mastering the necessary skills.

Abdulaziz Al-Mahbash, a specialist in the human resource sector, said the growing number of job abandonments in the retail sector is one of the biggest challenges facing the sector.

“The retail sector suffers from the dilemma of stalling, especially because these types of jobs are treated as part-time jobs or summer vacation jobs for Saudi students.

One of the reasons for the less attractiveness of this sector is that most of the owners of these activities are owners of small and micro enterprises and that they have no professional background and this encourages the Saudi employee to change quickly because he only looking for higher revenue or even a percentage of sales,” he said.

“These factors lead to inexperienced salespeople, and the owners of these stores need people with enough experience to train new employees in sales skills.

“So a non-Saudi employee is retained as an expert, trainer or even data owner for many clients who have been used to working with him for many years,” he said while noting that the owners of these stores are of the opinion that this expatriate employee has proven himself and is committed to working with full knowledge of the products.

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