Shame On You

I feel ashamed that there are 270,000 unemployed Saudi young men and a similar number of unemployed Saudi young women in a country that employs more than seven million foreigners

— Ghazi al-Gosaibi, the minister of labor.

I hope that many other officials feel the same way. In a shame culture like ours, this can be a good thing.

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31 thoughts on “Shame On You

  1. If you can’t find job in your own country with too many job options – i think there is not just enough skill-set among the nationals, to match the job market requirement. I have some Saudi friends who works in 2, even 3 places.

    We should put more on training on the job seekers to give them the REAL skills and plant in there mind-set that not all of them can be MOODEER. Somebody has to be say NA’AM while the MOODEER pretends to work.

  2. Here is my figure on how we can solve the issue:

    1- Train Saudi guys/girls who are to be engaged with the market with a beneficial training, not only where they attend and leave and that’s it.

    2- Our education system needs to be reformed, PERIOD. I remember when I studied in California State University, there was a small paper attached to my curriculum saying: “Your degree will qualify you when you graduate to work as:

    -Programmer
    -System Analyst
    -Software Engineer

    Meaning, there is a CAREER PLAN, but in our universities there are no plans AT ALL, you’re on your own, that’s why you might find a “Computer Engineer” works in a restaurant.

    3- We should abolish the “Sponsorship” law [Kafala] because it makes Companies favor the Foreigner over the citizen, but if it’s abolished, then we can have a “fair” competition between both.

    4- We should populate a policy among our youth that “it is ok” to work with a low wage for a period of time and then get an increase, I know someone started his career with SR 2,500 two years ago, and now he is getting more than SR 12,000!!

    When you start working in a place and then “prove your self”, you can attract attentions, and if you have good social connections in every place you move to, you have to worry not about moving to another finer place that satisfies your needs.

    5- We should grant the citizenship to the Foreigners who can rely on themselves and already maintain a job, especially those who were born and raised in Saudi Arabia and spent more than 20 years without having a citizenship or a permanent residency, that ought to increase the percentage of the “Saudization” in the companies and can make them benefit the society as well by restraining the massive number of workers imported to the country every year.

    [I personally go for the 67 point system of Canada, it’s very reasonable and more realistic than the 23 point system of the Saudi citizenship system].

    6- We should make our Saudi Workers real productive, a worker who wants to punch in at anytime and punch out at anytime or even resign without handing over his tasks to an alternate must not be tolerated with.

    And we must not forget, God is the real provider, and I always say “work smart instead of working hard”, if you do your best and ask God to ease things for you, he will.

    وفي السماء رزقكم وما توعدون وإنه لحق مثل ما أنكم تنطقون

    Regards,

  3. From what I’ve read on the subject, not only are there issues with the educational systems (for example, I’ve heard that the KSA should be graduating 20K engineers a year to keep up with it’s industries, but only graduate about 200, this is according to a speaker at an economic summit on the Gulf States), but isn’t there a change needed in the Saudi work ethic. According to an issue of The Economist (I wish I could remember the issue) it discussed how companies tried hiring Saudi’s over Westerners (when they were forced to), but that they would often times not show up for work, want to leave early, or take many breaks throughout the day, etc.etc. and that once you hire them it’s hard to fire them. This directly affects the level of productivity, so…regardless of the nationality, sex, race, whatever…who would want to hire a person like this?

  4. Loay,
    /*
    3- We should abolish the “Sponsorship” law [Kafala] because it makes Companies favor the Foreigner over the citizen, but if it’s abolished, then we can have a “fair” competition between both.

    */

    I still dont get it…..how is the unemplyment issue being affected by the sponsorship system?

  5. Saudis should me more flexible regarding the jobs and they should be ready to do any kind of job regardless of the level of the job. As far as I know, many of them aim for the top from right in the beginning without entering through the lower levels and gradually goign up.

    Loosening the grip on the foriegners especially the domestic workers will help alot. Why is it that we dont see any Saudi cleaning operative or construction worker? I dont know if its the “Taboo”-factor.

  6. @HishMaj

    The sponsorship system -in my opinion- is “slavery”, and doesn’t align with Human Rights and the Islamic teachings.

    However, abolishing sponsorship can help in reducing unemployment, how? simple, most of the Companies in Saudi favor the Foreigner over the citizen because they withhold his passport as an insurance he is gonna stay to the end of the contract, but you know the Saudi can resign and pack at anytime without even a one-day notice.

    So, if you abolish the “Kafala”, the Company head will have no more factors to favor the Foreigner over the Saudi, they will be even, so, the Company will pick and only pick the qualified, regardless of his citizenship.

    That is how I see it.

  7. these figures reflect social, educational and cultural issues with saudis that have to be observed and addressed first before discussing the high numbers of foreigners, also, most of expats are in jobs where saudis are either less qualified for or more than their expectations like laborers and salesmen…

  8. Algusabi is a joke
    he is a hypocrite and so are his superiors from Al Saud… they have screwed over our country. As long as we have these corrupt leaders.. these numbers will only get worse

  9. I agree with lulu on the fact that AlGu9aibi is a hypocrite, a simple look at his own household will tell u a lot about this man. He’s a guy that says a house can’t have more than 1 maid yet goes around doing the exact opposite in his own home, he makes the life of every businessman a living hell every time they try 2 get new labour workers, really how many lazy “proud” saudis r willing 2 work in construction or pluming????? I think the problem is not just the bad policies and hypocritical politicians but its the superior attitude of Saudis (we think we’re 2 gd 4 a lot of jobs) and also our work ethic or LACK of it.

    Anyways he should feel ashamed BIG TIME, and btw i loved the expression “shame culture” very true about Saudi society

  10. Loay,
    That might sound enticing, but I am not sure about granting citizenship to foreigners.

    Considering that around 15,000 Saudi students are sutdying abroad every year, they can be a strong work force when they come back. Foreigners might work in those fields where there is an insufficient supply of labour TILL a Saudi work force can take over it completely.

    There is a similiar problem that arised in the UK when they started giving permanent residency ( and gradually, citizenship) a few years back when they had a very short supply of doctors. Doctors, especially from India, started to flock the country in huge numbers. But now, when they are having enough Briton doctors, they are facing problems because these Indian doctors that are working in their place, have the same benefits and oppurunities as that of any British citizen.

    And now, the govt. is trying to tackle the issue but in vain.

    In brief, expatriates can work in Saudi as long as they follow “Do your job and leave” policy without them having to stay here permanaently.

  11. first of all, i would be surprised if it was only 270000. come on, theres gotta be a lot more unemployed. and no way that there are equal numbers among men and women, no way. maybe there are 270000 who are actively seeking employment. the rest are just scratching their …

    you know what the real issue is here? it is the underlying associations that people have in their mind with the word ‘work’

    for example, in europe ‘i work’ means ‘i am a valued member of society and as such, a good man’

    in the ksa, ‘i work’ means ‘i am a miserable looser who can’t get enough money out of the parents or private contacts to sponsor a life’

    and even the people who can say here ‘i work’ usually mean ‘i go to a workplace to spend my day there’

    the basic attitutes of society towards work, that is what is totally botched here

  12. u know guys, honestly, really honestly, i think the oil business is the biggest tragedy that has ever happened to our country, despite all the superficial benefits

    just think about it … for 5 minutes …

  13. @HishMaj

    I don’t think that your rule of “Do your job and leave” fits for all expatriates, there are some expatriates who came to the country a year ago or 5 years ago, but there are some who are still living in the country since 50 years, is it fair just to tell them “pack your bags and beat it?” I don’t think this is the “Kingdom of Humanity way”, I think if we grant citizenship to skilled workers who lived here for a long time and those who were born and raised (like many I know) we can stop importing another 7 million workers.

    I put myself in everyone’s shoe before I make a decision, and honestly I see it so unfair to tell a skilled worker who has been living in Saudi since the very day he was born: “Pack your bags..and hit the road PAL”.

    Don’t you think?

  14. “do you job and leave” does nothing to benefit this society in the long run. Do your job and leave means that expatriates won’t put into this society but rather take from its resources and move on. Do your job and leave means that the expatriate will have no respect for this country and seek not to help benefit the Saudi peoples. Do your job and leave leaves many families who have lived here for generations are on the loosing end from a selfish based system that seeks to do nothing more than use people which leads to abuse.

    do your job and leave is something so many Saudis I know complain about because it breads a thinking that is not conducive to a healthy society.

    there are so many issues related to the unemployment here that a very agressive hands on approach based on reality of the lives of the average saudi is needed.

  15. Nzingha…you said it best. The “do your job and leave” displays an attitude of that similar to throwing out the trash.

    In California, in 1997 (or maybe 1998) there was an initiative on the ballot, prop 187. Prop 187 stated that the Migrant workers (in this case think Mexicans, who are not US Citizens, and in most cases they’re in the states illegally. The illegality of their status is a whole other issue) couldn’t receive healthcare benefits from the state and that their children couldn’t go to the schools. WTF!!!! So…you mean, these people can come to the state, pick your fruits, vegetables, wait on you in restaurants, etc., but if their child is sick, you don’t want the state to pay. It didn’t pass…but it shows the level of disdain that some have towards those who do work that is deemed “lower than”. Another point…California (the worlds 5th largest ecomony) is propped up, in large part by the agricultural industry, which uses the migrant workers.

    In the KSA, in our position, we’re going to make that money, and leave. However, the people that are there, and who have been there for generations, shouldn’t be made to get out. These people help support the economy and infrastructure. Without them…you’d be picking your own fruit (or whatever it is), so people should have respect for that work. It’s hard work, it’s laborious work, and should be respected versus looked at with disdain.

  16. Sama, I’m so glad we share the same views about the guy. I just don’t feel that Saudis think they are too good for certain jobs. The real problem is the pay…An average family cannot and will not survive on a plumber or janitor’s salary. I think its about time we implement minimum wage so that people with these kinds of jobs are able to lead decent lives.

  17. Marhaba,
    I have been passively following ur blog for some time and i really admire ur style and ur efforts. Keep it up.

    on the topic, as one of the commentator said, there are those who have spent 50+ years, my father has been living here for over 20 years, he is due to retire next year and without a pension is worried where to go, back to Pakistan? He doesnot find himself at home there, for me, ive too spent my childhood here. I love to see Saudia getting on its own feet but as most comments summarize, Saudis MUST face the music sooner or later, its encouraging to see Saudis working at retail checkout counters, its more interesting coz after 22 years myself, its the first time i have to talk in arabic and interact with everyday saudis, instead of the usual asians who speak my langauge.

    The ‘Ana Mudeer’ mentality has to be changed!

  18. Salam Loay Al-Shareef,

    Well said!

    I on the other hand a Filippino Citizen who’s been living in Riyadh KSA for more than 20 years (the includes studying in Saudi Government schools) should know better that this country has so blessed though needs to move forward for better living among others. Set aside from the colors of our skin & our nationalities. Indeed major things that set us apart from ourselves are our nationality, culture & language we generally speak. But in the end we’re all the same.

    Giving fairness to us shall open great opportunities to seek the right person for the right job. That dose not differ the unqualified ones. All I can say is everyone deserves a chance to prove himself/herself.

    May Allah bless you all.

    With best regards,

    Abs Yasin

  19. Salam Loay Al-Shareef,

    Well said!

    I on the other hand a Filippino Citizen who’s been living in Riyadh KSA for more than 20 years (that includes studying in Saudi Government schools) should know better that this country is so blessed though needs to move forward for better living among others. Set aside from the colors of our skin & our nationalities. Surely those major things that set us apart from ourselves are our nationality, culture & language we generally speak. But in the end we’re all the same.

    Giving fairness to us all shall open great opportunities to seek the right person for the right job. That dose not differ the unqualified ones. All I can say is everyone deserves a chance to prove himself/herself.

    May Allah bless you all.

    With best regards,

    Abs Yasin

  20. just a word about the ‘do your job and leave’ approach if i may

    i am a graduate expat in riyadh and have lived and worked here for several years. the ‘do your job and leave’ attitude towards me (and hundreds of thousands of us) clearly shows in our everyday life.

    now, what makes one do a GOOD job is that one is willing to put in that certain extra effort every now and then that is maybe a bit beyond their actual duties but still feels good, as it makes one feel valued

    now, i have never felt in saudi arabia ONCE that i wanted to put in that extra bit into my work. why? exactly because of the ‘do your job and leave’ policy. why would i do more than the bare minimum when this society will never accept me as a member? i’m not crazy… i do exactly what i am supposed to do: i do my job and leave. the minimum that i can get away with.

    actually, i don’t really care about my job. i look at it as purely a source of income. i am not particularly interested in doing a good job at all, i just wanna do as little as possible. why? because of the ‘do your job and leave’ policy. i have lived and worked in other countries that have much more welcoming attitudes towards expats, and i felt the difference. and i was happy to put in that extra bit of effort that makes all the difference between ‘job’ and ‘good job’

    so, what’s the actual result of the ‘do your job and leave’ policy? just to name a few: (1) unmotivated workforce (2) high staff turnover (3) lack of good rapport at the workplace (4) us and them division at the workplace (5) working for the manager’s approval (showcase work) as opposed to working for one’s own internal self satisfaction etc etc etc

    ‘do your job and leave’ is simply a backward way of thinking. having said that, i am doing exactly that. i do my job and leave. and if the building collapses a day after my departure, thats not my problem anymore.

    why would i care? give me one reason. just one sensible reason pls

  21. Its a clearcut that there too much of violations happening in saudi arabia because of this sponsership “Kafala” system.
    i agreed wiht THE MAC Saudis are Lazy and Refuse to work hard, as all of them think that they are prince & princes of universe .

  22. Yo, this is exactly the kind of attitude foreginers in Saudi Arabia experience everyday that makes them wanna kick you guys in the nuts and leave.

    I was born and raised in Saudi, f*** i grew up there and knew no other place that I could call HOME. Yes, Saudi was my home- my dad worked his ass off for 20 years and tolerated the egoistic attitude of his employers but he couldn’t take it one day and handed in his resignation.

    And what happened then? WE WERE ASKED TO PACK OUR BAGS AND LEAVE- after 20 years. You think that’s fuc**g fair? I wanna go back to Saudi someday, because I have emotional attachments with the land, the neighbhorhood i grew up in, but fuck me- I have no respect for most Saudis. In all my years- I barely met 3 saudis that I could call friends.

    Take your egoistic attitude and shove it down your throats and watch your country rely on the world forever to carry its ass.

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