Saudi Addiction to Cheap Foreign Labor

Jamal Khashoggi on the campaign against Saudi Labor Minister Adel Fakieh:

There are many reasons behind the conservative current’s “hatred” towards Adel Fakieh even if at some point, it is overlapping with some business reasons; they are obsessed with fighting decisions that allow women to work, and they want to limit the work of women in women’s necessities stores. The law has included so far women’s lingerie stores so it would be ratified. Nevertheless, the religious current knows well that “women’s necessities” can include dozens of other stores. This is a strategic alliance with the retail dealers who prefer to hire a foreign “male” who arranges the ladies’ lingerie, in obvious opposition with the conservative nature of Saudi society: for Saudi merchant, the foreign male sales person is less costly than Saudi woman who needs to be employed, and work with a double salary and who would be working for limited hours. The Saudi female worker will need an insurance coverage in accordance with the regulations of the Ministry of Labor: all these requirements are additional costs that businessmen prefer to avoid! Economics and accounting rules to increase the profits and minimize losses, is the engine for those businessmen, and not the national morals and the supreme national interest that the Minister of Labor is working on. As for the religious current, the important thing is that this foreign “male” will guarantee that women will not work in public.

The religious tide does not care about Adel Fakieh’s numbers, such as the fact that 85 percent of those registered in the “incentive” program that registers the unemployed are two million Saudi women. This is a clear message to the religious current stating that their festering speech that refuses the women’s work idea and discouraging women has failed. There are 1.7 million Saudi females who wish to work: many of them prefer to work as teachers, while others want to work under the terms of the clergy, i.e. without interacting with the opposite sex. The economy is directing the people and not the heartless preaching. Half of the women are willing to work in the retail sector for example, and that is strongly opposed by religious men: the need for job and income are what motivate women and put pressure on the State that is represented by the Ministry of Labor. These women and 360 thousand of young Saudis, where most of them did not finish the secondary education, constitute 10 percent of the Saudi population.

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