Thursday, June 7, 2012

Saudi creates 250,000 jobs in 10 months

Kingdom says aggressive employment drive to be expandedAn aggressive campaign launched by Saudi Arabia last year to tackle festering unemployment has produced nearly 250,000 jobs for nationals in the private sector in the first 10 months of the programme.
The number is more than five times the number of jobs created by the world's oil powerhouse in its wealthy private sector over the past five years, the Gulf Kingdom's labour minister Adel Faqih said.
About 195,000 of the jobs over the past 10 months were taken up by Saudi men while the rest went to women, he told the country's appointed parliament (Shura)
"We have managed to create nearly quarter a million jobs for nationals in the private sector over the past 10 months, more than five times the number of jobs created in the previous five years," he said.
Riyadh announced the launching of the job nationalization programme, dubbed Nitaqat (ranges) in mid 2011 in a bid to tackle national unemployment, which was estimated at around 11 per cent at the end of 2010. The level is far higher among women and university graduates, ranging between 20 and 45 per cent.

Experts have described Nitaqat as the most radical measure taken by the Saudi government to force its massive private sector to employ more Saudis following the failure of previous procedures and expansion in local unemployment.
The programme comes amidst reports that unemployment in Saudi Arabia continued to widen because of the private sector's preference of cheaper foreign labour and the fact that the population is growing faster than the economy.
Officials said the initiative could create more than 400,000 jobs for Saudis every year, adding that the private sector's preference of expatriate labour has left more than one million Saudis jobless.
Besides creating a persistent unemployment problem among Saudis, the private sector's heavy reliance on foreign workers has put pressure on the country's balance of payments given the massive funds transferred by foreigners to their homes, estimated at SR98 billion ($26 billion) in 2010.
Under Nitaqat programme, which was launched on June 11, private sector establishments were given four classifications--excellent and green with high Saudi labour percentage, and red and yellow, with low Saudi labour ratio.
Foreign workers in the first two categories can stay as long as they want while the stay of expatriate workers in the two negative categories will be limited to six years in case the company fails to adjust to Saudization rules.
"We are now preparing an expanded and developed version of Nitaqat to be announced soon....this plan will target qualitative job Saudization as it will focus on educational levels and wages," Faqih said.
"It will also take into consideration each region in the Kingdom, its population and their level of education and qualifications."
Faqih said Saudi women employed by the private sector within Nitaqat over the past 10 months were more than19 times the annual average number of female jobs created over the previous years.
Saudi Arabia, the largest Arab economy, has a population of around 28 million, including about eight million expatriates.
© Emirates 24|7 2012 

Wednesday, June 6, 2012

Focus on Saudi Arabia's megaprojects

The growth and development of the Kingdom's railway network was the focus of yesterday's agenda of the two-day Kingdom Mass Transit Summit, organized by leading French business information company naseba, which opened Saturday at the Radisson Blu Hotel in Riyadh.
In the first quarter of 2012, Saudi Arabia signed three contracts worth SR2.3 billion ($613 million) for the construction of maintenance service buildings and five stations to support its longest railway, the North South Railway. Many more contracts are expected to be signed, leading to an increasingly connected Kingdom.

In the opening keynote, Hammad bin Yousef, civil and track engineer at the Saudi Railway Company, spoke of the opportunities in the Kingdom's megaprojects and developments and offered an overview of Saudi Arabia's rail programs and accomplishments.

Highlighted future projects included the Saudi Landbridge Project, an internal Jubail network of 120 km railway to link the country's two industrial hubs of Dammam and Jubail, and the creation of rail branches necessary for the North South Railway. Each project was considered amidst an overarching analysis of the Kingdom's vision and strategy for rail developments. Yousef also described the private sector's place in developing the country's rail networks.

The Saudi Consolidated Contracting Company's (SCCC) high-speed rail project will be of utmost importance to the Kingdom's transport future.

On his part, Bassam Boustany, associate head of the transport department at the SCCC, encouraged attendees to think in the long term for their transport projects, noting, "When we improve service, we lower the cost of doing business."

The summit then addressed the need for innovation in the railway sector. Oliver Plunkett, country director for Saudi Arabia at Buro Happold, led a keynote that studied the need for 21st century railway stations for a post-car city, examining a station's needs and integrated solutions to complex challenges in usability, operability, quality and value.

The summit concluded with a panel discussion on sustainability in future railway projects between industry pioneers Atul Agarwal, senior transport specialist at the World Bank; Abdul Rahman Al-Motrif, director SMART campuses and building projects at the Ministry of Higher Education; and Syed Ehtesham Husain, head of engineering at Al Latifia Trading and Contracting. The panel concluded with all participants agreeing on the need to focus on sustainability in order to continuously improve the effectiveness of a transport system

New rules for expatriate visa renewal in Abu Dhabi

Expatriates seeking to renew their visas in Abu Dhabi must now submit a copy of their housing rent contract to immigration authorities as part of new terms enforced by the Ministry of Interior, a newspaper reported on Wednesday.
Foreigners residing in Abu Dhabi as well as those who work in the capital and live in other emirates must also present a rent copy along with other documents required for their visa extension, the semi official Arabic language daily Alitthad said, quoting Major General Nassir Al Minhali, Ministry of Interior assistant undersecretary for naturalization and residence.
"All expatriates in the UAE are now required to submit a copy of their house rent contract when they want to have their visa renewed...they should also present valid water or power bills to support that contract," he said."This is part of a new data system enforced by the Ministry of Interior...we need accurate and comprehensive data regarding the expatriates residing in the country...this is very important as this data base will also serve applicants in their dealings with other departments," he added.

He said the new term affects families and bachelors and that residents of other emirates are also required to submit a copy of the rent contract.

"Those who work for Abu Dhabi-based companies and live in other emirates must bring a copy of the contract of their rent in those emirates...expatriates seeking to have their visa renewed in Abu Dhabi are not required to be living in the emirate...all they have do to is to bring a copy of their rent contract."
More than seven million expatriates are believed to be living in the UAE, with a total population of around 8.2 million in mid 2010, according to the Statistics Bureau.

Saturday, June 2, 2012

Kuwait busts visa-trafficking racket

Kuwait has arrested two men, a Gulf national and an Arab, for their alleged involvement in an extensive visa-trafficking racket Kuwait has arrested two men, a Gulf national and an Arab, for their alleged involvement in an extensive visa-trafficking racket.
The pair allegedly brought into Kuwait 95 foreigners who paid them a total of KD130,000 for their visas.
The Gulf national reportedly claimed he had 15 companies and that he needed the visas to help bring in workers from abroad.
The Arab national allegedly sold the visas to the foreigners lured by lucrative contracts in the country. However, the police discovered that the companies did not exist and that the foreigners were told to look for jobs in the country on the "free visa" basis.

Kuwait Reducing Expat population

83,000 residencies cancelled

KUWAIT: Ministry of Social Affairs and Labor sources revealed that the ministry has cancelled the residencies of more than 83,000 expatriates. From those, 37,000 cases face a travel ban, 27 cases are due to the departure of an expatriate who did not return, 423 cases are due to death and 18,463 cases are at the request of the Ministry of Interior. Changes from visit visas to a residency visa in the private sector reached 13,645 cases, and from a dependent visa to the private sector was 8,186 cases. Changes within the private sector reached 183,822 cases and changes from the private sector to the government sector amounted to 4,986 cases. Sources said that the coming few days will witness thousands of residencies, which will be announced next September.