Fakieh Pushing In All Directions

More than 300,000 job opportunities in the Saudi private sector have been created over the past ten months thanks to the Nitaqat Program, Minister of Labor Adel Fakieh boasted Saturday. The minister’s statement came during a dialogue hosted by the Jeddah-based Okaz daily. Businessmen, intellectuals and the media attended the event, according to Saudi Gazette.

Fakieh also took the opportunity to announce a new program called “Jahiz” (translation: “Ready”) with the goal of creating job opportunities for Saudi students after they finish their scholarship programs abroad and return home. Unemployment among Saudi youth educated abroad has become a concern in recent years.

In related news, SG also reported that “many private sector companies have started giving their employees two days off a week in anticipation of a government decision that could force the sector to adhere to a five-day workweek.”

Fakieh has previously said that his ministry is pushing in that direction, which aims to encourage more Saudis to take jobs in the private sector. Arab News is reporting that the proposed decision has already started to cause paranoia among expat workers, not just because they are afraid that their jobs will be taken by Saudi nationals, but also because they worry that the introduction of a five-day workweek will result in reduction in their salaries.