In a surprising statement Saudi Arabia's Labour Minister has said 86 percent of expatriate workers do menial jobs that "do not suit Saudis."
There are two million unemployed Saudis in the oil rich Kingdom, yet eight million expatriate workers. Arab News reported Labour Minister Adel Fakeih said around six million expatriates on low salaries "do menial jobs that do not suit Saudis."
The country is in the midst of a Saudization drive aimed at creating more work for Saudi citizens. The government has succeeded in creating some jobs for women, who comprise 85 percent of the unemployed, by banning men from working in certain areas such as female lingerie shops.
According to the Arabian Gazette unemployment consistently remains above 10 percent. Meanwhile the work force remains dominated by foreign workers prepared to work for wages which Saudis reject as too low.
In 2010 Sheikh Saleh bin Saad Al-Laheedan issued a fatwa allowing Saudi women to work as maids, a move vehemently opposed in a nation used to employing foreigners to deal with domestic matters. As an example of Saudis rejecting menial jobs, many said it was humiliating for Saudi women to work as maids, with some claiming it was un-Islamic.
New labour laws are being introduced to encourage more Saudis to work and reduce the amount of expatriate workers who send remittances abroad. The Telegraph reported a controversial new law was introduced in November which fines firms which have a majority of expatriate workers in their workforce. The law is meant to ensure more Saudis receive jobs whilst reducing the gap between the costs of local and expatriate workers.