Saudi Arabia Tries To Cut Jobless Rate By Kicking Out Foreigners

Saudi Arabia is taking the direct approach when it comes to reducing unemployment. The Arab kingdom has simply been kicking foreign workers out so that native Saudis can take their jobs.

However, the practice will work better in theory than reality, experts say and will have a far- reaching effect on economies throughout the Middle East — and the world.

According to a report in The World Tribune, a news web site focusing on Asian and Middle Eastern events, the Saudi government has kicked out about 1 million foreign workers in the past nine months — including 7,500 governmental civil servants — in accordance with a recent policy that requires the government to evaluate whether any job held by a foreign national could be filled by a Saudi instead.

In 2012, the Saudi unemployment rate was 10.6 percent, according to data compiled by The CIA World Factbook. That data covers only Saudi males, due to the highly gender-segregated nature of Saudi society. The Factbook notes that some estimates place the Saudi Arabian unemployment rate as high as 25 percent.

But writing in the business publication Forbes, one international development expert says that the moves are unlikely to make a dent in Saudi unemployment.

“It is highly unlikely that Saudis will take the menial jobs now occupied by foreign workers,” writes Dr. Carol Adelman, Director of the Center for Global Prosperity at the Hudson Institute. “While U.S. and European expatriates dominate high-skilled jobs, the overwhelming majority of foreign workers in Saudi Arabia are low-skilled, working in domestic services, cleaning, and agriculture.”

At least some of them work in the government, however. The government there recently reported about 75,000 civil servants working in health and education fields. About 3,200 work for the Saudi Civil Service Ministry in administrative positions, according to the World Tribune report.

The real impact will be felt in the fired workers home countries. Saudi foreign workers send some $27.5 billion annually to their home countries, and money sent home by foreign workers in other countries makes for one of the most effective forms of economic stimulus in poverty-stricken countries.

After the United States, Saudi Arabia provides the most money of any country in the world sent abroad by foreign workers. But with the deportations, that amount could drop sharply.

Saudis have not been subtle in their deportation practices. Yemenis comprise the largest single block of foreign workers with more than a million in Saudi Arabia. But earlier this year, the Saudis began forcibly deporting Yemeni workers, raiding their homes and loading them onto vehicles out of the country.

We were treated as slaves or criminals. Thrown into trucks and then thrown out of them.” a deported plumber, Abdullah Al Qubati, 27, told the United Arab Emirates-based publication The National.

Al Qutabi said that when he was notified that his legal residency had been suddenly terminated, Saudi Arabian authorities gave him only two hours to pack up his whole life and leave.

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