Labor inspectors find many shops closed

First phase of Saudization in retail sector begins


Saudi Gazette

— As the Ministry of Labor and Social Development’s directive to Saudize 70 percent of jobs in car and motorbike showrooms, men and children ready-made garment stores, and shops selling furniture and kitchenware came into force on Tuesday, 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.

Inspectors from labor office went around the cities of Dammam, Al-Khobar, Qatif, Ahsa and Jubail to make random checks.

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.

In the Mall of Dhahran and the iconic Rashid Mall, most of the opened shops stationed only Saudi staff at the counters. They admitted that they were finding it difficult to find replacement for expat staff. “It will certainly impact our business but for the larger interest of the country we are ready to face the loss,” said a ready-made garment shop owner at the Mall of Dhahran.

At Al-Khobar’s Jawahra market and in expat-dominated Subaikha area most of the shops were closed. Interestingly some of them had displayed “For Rent” sign.

A few of the shops had asked their non-Saudi staff to stay outside to serve customers on the sly. This practice is quite prevalent in gold shops where owners maintain that it will take some time for Saudi staff to learn the trick of the trade.