Monday, July 21, 2008

There Are Plenty of Jobs

How is it that a country that imports some six or eight million men and women to work - in whatever capacity - doesn't have enough jobs for its own citizens? There are plenty of jobs available if one wants to actually work - and that is what it comes down to. Youths in Saudi Arabia are not forced to take up smuggling as this article suggests. They choose to take up smuggling. Smuggling or doing something illegal will always be more lucrative and easier than actually working. Why get up at six in the morning for a shift of eight hours sweeping streets or working as a gardener for a measly 400 to 700 riyals a month when you could smuggle drugs or weapons once a month or twice and make six or eight times the salary? "Official statistics released by the Ministry of Economy and Planning said the unemployed constitute 11 percent of the workforce, equaling half a million young Saudis." If 500,000 visas for companies that import workers were denied, the "half a million young Saudis" could take those jobs. They won't.

"Al-Watan interviewed several unemployed Saudis between the ages of 15 and 35 years old. Several admitted to having been involved in smuggling operations... A 20-year-old said he 'tried to join the Frontier Guard but was denied because he did not have a high school diploma. So instead he smuggled qat. Why should I stop? How much will [I] be paid if I take a normal job? SR3000, SR4000 ... SR10,000. If I risk my life one night I can make a year's salary.' With the money he made from smuggling qat he was able to buy a new Jeep." SR3000, SR4000 or SR10,000 - is that monthly - because imported laborers are not paid nearly that much?

"A 32-year-old Saudi man said he used to work as a security guard at a school... for SR1200 a month. He paid SR600 for his rent and SR200 for fuel. The remaining SR400 was not enough to provide for his family. He was later arrested for smuggling hashish." Who is providing for his family now? He is in jail, right, because drug smugglers / dealers, here, go to jail and are executed. [They do and are if they are ex-pats; do "locals" get different treatment? Never mind.] How is it that the imported street cleaners and gardeners who are paid SR400 to SR700 a month can manage to survive on their salaries, and a security guard making SR1200 as month can't?

Nope. Calling bullshit on this. If someone wants to work - there are jobs available. Youths are not being forced to do anything - they choose not to work and to do something illegal. The article says that "many Saudis are left with no eduction, which means they cannot meet the minimum requirement for government jobs." Who is forcing them to drop out of high school? And, why does every Saudi expect that a government job will be available to them? Young Saudis need to learn that they must start at the bottom and work their way up to that cushy desk job making several thousand riyals a month. It is a concept that seems to be completely missed, here...


  1. Mr. Man litterally had over a thousand Saudi applicants for a hundred job slots. that is like 10 to one. Most are unqualified, have no skills, and have no continued education. A few lazy.. ok over a thousand lazy, I think it is a bit of a different picture. The government really needs to step up and offer continued education that matters. Years ago all were offered government jobs.. that was a known job market, a safe one. Times have changed but not much is offered to replace it.

    Add in other issues- foriegn companies who don't like to hire saudis. 1. due to perceptions of laziness 2. due to the fact they can't fire them if they simply don't work out 3. expatriates who don't feel like they should train saudis to eventually take over their own livelihood.

    Than there is the basic pay of Saudis which is absolutely no where in line to the average cost of living in this country. The average pay w/ in this country is only 9,000 SR a month and that is an average of the population.

    so yea, knowing the poorer population in this country it is a wonder that more don't go into the smuggling buisness.

  2. How many foreign companies are here, Nzingha - any idea? Perception of laziness? Granted there are some very hard working Saudis - but there are also a lot of Saudis that don't want to work very hard. I have seen both. It isn't really fair to say that they are all lazy - and I wouldn't go that far - but for so many that are lazy, it gives the hard working Saudis a bad "reputation." Remember when they tried to completely Saudize taxi's a couple years ago? We couldn't get a cab here unless you booked it weeks in advance because none of the Saudi drivers would show up for work in the morning. And, of course, morning is the only time you can go downtown to get your errands done. Many of them still have not been fired - and they should have been fired a long time ago. Who can blame ex-pats for not wanting to give up their jobs? This happened at our Commissary - the workers trained their Saudi counterparts and the Commissary hasn't been the same since. If the average pay is 9000SR a month, how is it that so many ex-pats are expected to live on a whole lot less than that? Gardeners and street cleaners, here, would be ecstatic to make anywhere near that. Yes, professionals make more, but they've gone to school, have advanced educations and have paid their dues to get to that point. But, really it is no different here than in the States where people are dealing drugs or what have you because they "choose" NOT to work a real job. But then, if there was no demand, there wouldn't be any need for the supply...

  3. number of foriegn companies thousands are listed, from large to small. Than one has to ask what is their listed saudi employee numbers and what jobs do they have? I can see both sides of this.

    Saudi taxi drivers, why get up when there isn't enough work in the morning? Mr. Mans nephew used to drive a taxi in jeddah it was horrible but he had no choice. The pay HA! The women he picked up were an entirely different ordeal in itself. Can't even say he made ends meet every month. Not because he was lazy, but because of conditions.

    We have a mixture in our family, the well off and the poor. I can see it from all angles. Are there lazy individuals in every society.. yes. Can't paint such a broad brush in all the societies though but many think it is acceptable here.

    Do many Saudis lack basic working skills? Yuppers, their work performance on many occasions is something that this culture has conditioned. They can be broken of them as long as expectations are given to them. Problem is not many try, they tend to chalk it up to lazy saudi workers.

    And think of the expense between an expat workers, even our gardeners vs that of a Saudi man of the same age. If on average it is 9,000 SR a month how many saudis earn less? Take a look at security guards that are Saudi and guard our lavish compounds. from 1500 SR a month to possibly possibly 3,000 SR a month.


    and that is just basics.

    No wonder every now an again you can see a tent pitched in the middle of Khobar with a family living in it. Who can meet the daily needs of a family on such an income?

    While I am not excusing illegal behaviour I can understand it. And wonder why there isn't so many more out of work Sauis who aren't taking the same route that so many do in the US.

    Major overhaul and proper attention to this problem needs to happen in this society. I'm all for saudization, and past the stages of taxi drivers. But it has to be done properly and this country has to invest largerly into that in order for it to happen.

  4. Don't you think, part of it Nzingha, is that people also need to live within their means? You can't be driving the newest Mercedes on 9000SR a month. [There are groups of people that are known for this in the states - live in the Section 8 housing - it is where the government pays the biggest portion of rent - and you see Cadillacs and Mercedes parked in the parking lots. We - as taxpayers - pay your rent - and most of us - we - as the taxpayers - don't drive such expensive cars!]

  5. The company my husband works for employed Saudis when they started in Saudi. The pay was decent, the work not hard since the company had just started and didn't have many contracts. The Saudis were fine for the first...3 months. Then they somehow got bored(?) and decided they do not need to come to work every day, they don't need to "take orders" from the superiors, they could decide for themselves what, when and whether they want to do. Year on and they are all gone - none has been fired, they just figured that working 8 hours a day 5 days a week is too much to bear. Even on rotation basis. Oh, and I'd like to add that the company was actually happy to employ Saudis, as that meant no hassle with visa procedures and all the stuff you need to deal with when employing foreign workers.

  6. I do think, Sabah, with some Saudis - no, NOT all - there is a real problem with "work ethic." They don't have a clue... Not that this isn't a problem with other nationalities in other countries, but in the States, at most companies you are an "at will" employee and if you don't pull your weight - you're gone. [Government workers - exempt - of course! In most states, if you are a government worker, you'd have to poop on the Governor's desk while he/she was sitting at it to get fired.]

  7. sabra- I think that is a part of a problem especially for those who believe they are still living in the oil boom of the 80s. Mr. Man comments on them. But the younger generation for the most part I would say aren't. They buy used cars, have the smaller apartments, don't do many outside activities, have smaller families and struggle day to day. One set up in this culture is the easy loans that set families into long term debt. Not unlike much of the world with things like credit cards. But here not paying debts is a jail sentence (never did quite understand that)

  8. Sabah- that is due to Saudi laws that make it so hard to fire saudis. And there are Saudis that look for a foriegn company because they don't know the laws and basically don't have the know how to fire Saudis. I was told by Mr. Mans right hand man at work who does a lot of the hiring it is a new thing that he himself has to watch for. Saudis doing the minimum for the three month trial basis in their contract and than they are no shows. And if you fire them they take settlement. It is a messed up system.

    Mr. Man does fire saudis wihtout hesitation and will dare them to take it to court. There are guys that just don't show up.. fired. Sleep on the job.. fired. Disapear on the job.. fired. Some of the cases are a hoot I can't believe people think they can keep a job and just not show up.

  9. You made my point, exactly, Sabah. And again, it is too much of a generalization to say "all" Saudis are lazy or don't want to work - I do know some very, very hard working Saudis - but there are many... The concept of "work ethic" is NOT a familiar one, here.

  10. Where my husband works, there is an active Saudization program, sometimes actively enforced, sometimes less enthusiastically. In all the years he's been there, there has been one Saudi who has worked out, and he's terrific. All (and there are about a dozen of them) the others have been a dismal disappointment. Most are hired, organise for their office to be equipped with a plasma TV and then disappear into a locked office never to be seen again. In the lower ranking jobs, they show up for a while and then disappear completely, except for one day a month when the time sheets are collected. There are senior Saudi employees who are mostly at work, although not actually working, who know when periods of busy work times are approaching and then fail to show in case they are asked to pitch in. They recently had a retirement morning tea for a man my husband had never even seen! In addition, these days where they are missing are considered 'working days' and the Saudi employees then have the bad manners to apply for leave, which they then don't hand over the paperwork for, and all accrue enormous untaken leave balances that need to be paid out when they go - leave, never sacked. There was even one guy who stole the expat boss's wallet, used his credit card all over town, was discovered and still shows up to work. He has family 'wasta', his uncle paid off the money, and ensured he continues to come to work. No wonder the Saudization program is viewed as problematic by management!

  11. Which is why, Kathryn, all of us ex-pats [or DH in my case] have jobs here. If they didn't require all of us to get the work done, there'd be no sense having us. On the other hand, if all of us were to leave, this place would come to a dead halt and Saudis would go back to living in tents and riding camels. The labor is ALL imported - there would be no one to build houses or apartments; the mechanics are all imported - there would be no one to fix cars. Many, many professional occupations are filled by ex-pats. Nursing is one example - how many Saudi nurses are there? Very few. Saudi dentists? Only a few. Saudi pilots? Quite a few, but the problem is that many of them can't get visas to fly to certain countries - Americans can.


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