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A worker restores the Al Sarreha Mosque in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia. A worker restores the Al Sarreha Mosque in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, March 8, 2018 (AP photo by Amr Nabil).

What’s Behind Saudi Arabia’s Pivot Away From Foreign Workers

Friday, Aug. 16, 2019

Editor’s Note: This article is part of an ongoing series on immigration and integration policy around the world.

Saudi Arabia announced plans late last month to ban foreign workers from certain jobs in the hospitality sector. The move is the latest in a series of policy shifts designed to tackle the kingdom’s high unemployment rate by boosting private sector hiring for Saudi citizens, after many years of relying on cheap foreign labor. But many analysts are skeptical that this policy of “Saudization” will achieve the desired results. In an email interview with WPR, Omar Al-Ubaydli, the director of research at the Bahrain Center for Strategic, International and Energy Studies, explains why Saudi Arabia is prioritizing new job opportunities for citizens and why its approach is likely to face pushback from both employers and consumers. ...

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