JEDDAH: Expatriates from seven countries make up over 60 percent of the private sector workforce, with Indians, Pakistanis and Egyptians comprising the largest share, according to a local media report on Tuesday.
According to official data from the Labor Ministry, people from 25 countries are working in the Kingdom, with Indians at 2.2 million or 20 percent and Pakistanis at about 1.8 million or 17 percent — the largest proportion from Asian countries.
In terms of Arabs, Egyptians ranked first at 1 million or 10 percent and Yemenis at 720,000 or 7 percent. Filipinos followed at 540,000 or approximately 5 percent and Sudanese at 400,000 or 4 percent, the report stated.
Meanwhile, Khalid A. Maimani, a human resources expert and academic, said that the government’s statistics did not reflect the actual number of expatriates in the country, which he believed was much higher.
He said that while the government has put the number at 8.8 million, he believed there were more than 12 million in the Kingdom.
He said this growth of foreigners showed that much needed to be done to ensure that Saudis are not replaced in many sectors.
Nidal Radwan, chairman of the National Committee for Labor, said that people should remember that expatriates did not arrive in this country on their own but were invited by companies, institutions and individuals, and with the consent of government agencies that issued visas for their recruitment.
He said that while it was normal for foreigners from some countries to dominate certain sectors, there was also a failure by many employers to recruit Saudis. In addition, some employers were actively involved in running cover-up businesses, which means hiding expatriates from the scrutiny of government inspectors.
He said that Saudis would be attracted to the private sector if working hours were reduced and a minimum wage set. In addition, the government should only issue visas for expatriates if they are badly needed, and seek better cooperation with employers to counter cover-up businesses.
Moreover, the Ministry of Labor and Social Development and the Ministry of Commerce should work with municipalities to monitor more closely the granting of licenses for businesses. It made no sense for one street of about 700 to 1,000 meters to have three pharmacies, five grocers and four barber shops, Radwan said.