Give Saudis a chance to show their skills


Makkah newspaper

I KNOW of a Saudi, who had specialized in servicing Mercedes cars 20 years ago by learning the rudiments of mechanically maintaining and repairing that brand of cars, and I also remember that he was in huge demand with people needing to use wasta (influence) to get a booking for inspection of their cars by him. All customers who visited him at his Makkah workshop agreed that he had forged his numero uno reputation as a result of quality service and excellent manners.

On the basis of this first-hand experience I don’t think there is any need for a debate questioning the skills, work ethics and professionalism of Saudis in the private sector whether young or middle-aged or elderly. Crown Prince Muhammad Bin Salman, deputy premier and minister of defense, has set a good example for Saudi youth to follow.

If we compare the situation of young Saudi men and women before 1979 with those in the new millennium we can see that they now enjoy a better work environment based on justice and equal opportunity. They have been receiving more incentives, which encouraged them to work hard and make greater achievements, disproving critics.

I still remember that day when I was appointed as a teacher at Bin Hayyan Secondary School in the Royal Commission for Yanbu and there were only five Saudis and I was the sixth one among the teaching and administrative staff — as three quarters of the staff were Arab expatriates. I remained there for several years during which I saw the number of Saudi staff increasing gradually to reach 99% as a result of an organized Saudization program introduced by the Royal Commission.

I narrated this story to remind the pessimists about the huge achievements made by schools, principals and teachers under the Royal Commission during the past 10 years as they won several national, regional and international awards and laurels. At the same time, these schools did not achieve such laurels and honors when non-Saudis were the majority.

By taking note of these achievements, I never intended to belittle the contributions made by expatriate teachers and staff members or deny their good performance while carrying out their academic and administrative duties. But I wanted to highlight the excellent performance of Saudis when they received necessary motivation and support. Professionalism and quality of work have become hallmarks of Saudi workers.

The Holy Qur’an says: “And if it were not Allah checking some people by means of others the earth would have been corrupted.” (2:251) Realizing the meaning of this verse, young Saudi men and women today have disproved the false allegations against them by displaying their efficiency and brilliant performance.

We have been hearing unfair characterization from certain quarters that “Saudis cannot work.” Actually, many Saudi men and women were instrumental in taking their companies to new heights of progress. This shows their creativity and multiple skills.

I would like to whisper in the ears of the Labor and Social Development Ministry with the hope that it would listen to understand the reality on the ground. It should know that the Saudization program and the punishment of violators alone would not increase employment opportunities for Saudis in the private sector. On the other hand, it should take action against expats who stand in the way of Saudis and prevent them from displaying their creativity and skills.

This article is not directed against expats who have come to our country to earn a decent living for their families. I am talking to the senior officials at the Labor and Social Development Ministry who know how to make the Saudization process successful by closely following its implementation and removing the obstacles it faces and taking action against those who employ non-Saudis from the backdoor.

Many Saudi men and women have discarded their jobs in the private sector and no one tried to find the reason for this phenomenon after conducting an impartial study.

We have also observed that some Saudi universities do not employ Saudis who have obtained master and doctoral degrees as lecturers and consider them as unqualified to teach in our universities. This attitude gives a wrong message that foreign lecturers are more capable than Saudis.

I take this opportunity to advise the Education Ministry that it should give qualified Saudi lecturers an opportunity to prove their worth and capabilities. I am sure our brilliant and energetic Saudis would not disappoint the ministry.