Ministry of Labor Inspectors ‘Find Many Shops Closed’ as Store Owners Deal With New Regulations

Saudi Arabia’s plans to increase Saudi employment to 70 percent of jobs in stores in several sectors came into force on Tuesday, and inspectors from the Ministry of Labor reportedly found that “many such shops in Dammam and Al-Khobar downed their shutters to avoid penalties and ensure that when they open they are in line with the new directive,” according to the Saudi Gazette.

The Ministry of Labor in Saudi Arabia.

The Ministry of Labor in Saudi Arabia.

The standards for 70% employment of vehicle showrooms, men and children ready-made garment stores, and shops selling furniture and kitchenware are part of the Kingdom’s drive toward Saudization, or Nitaqat, of these sectors to increase Saudi national participation over expat labor. A total of 43 professions in the retail sector will be restricted to nationals.

Inspectors from the Saudi Ministry of Labor inspected stores around the Saudi cities of Dammam, Al-Khobar, Qatif, Ahsa and Jubail to make random checks, according to the Saudi Gazette. “They found several small shops closed while big stores in supermarkets and on King Khalid Street in Al-Khobar and the ladies market in the city ensured that they followed the new Saudi-expat ratio of workers.”

The goal is to help to reduce unemployment among Saudis, despite some initial costs to retailers. According to the National, the move could unlock 180,000 to 200,000 jobs for nationals, citing KPMG.