2000 News Story

Labor minister talks about new manpower system

In an interview published today in the Arabic newspaper Asharq Alawsat Minister of Labor and Social Affairs Dr. Ali Al-Namlah spoke of plans to streamline the Kingdom's manpower system. He pointed out that all government institutions were urged in 1992 to conform to the Basic System of Government issued in March of that year. One system requiring revision, he said, is that covering residence permits (iqama), adding that sponsorship has never been a part of it. He referred to individual abuses of the labor laws, and the need for review of the regulations governing employment, particularly in respect of facilitating young Saudis in their search for suitable jobs. There is an ongoing problem of pilgrims who overstay and seek work after their pilgrimage is over; and problems with residents transferring employment without taking into account the regulations on this.

Asked about the relationship between manpower and the state if no sponsorship is involved, Dr. Al-Namla said the government does not interfere on the issue of recruitment of workers because that is determined by the employer according to the nature of his work. He categorically denied reports that the Kingdom plans to reduce the number of Arabs employed, saying that on the contrary, there are numerous factors that indicate Arab and Muslim manpower as preferable, although Saudization is definitely a priority.