Saudi Arabia upscales ‘Saudisation’ drive with HR jobs restriction

The latest move restricts human resources (HR) jobs to Saudi citizens only

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Saudi Arabia has taken a further step in its ‘Saudisation’ labour policy, reserving human resources (HR) positions for Saudi nationals only. This move, announced by the Ministry of Human Resources and Social Development, aims to increase employment opportunities for citizens.

The announcement comes alongside the implementation of the second phase of a plan to localise consultancy services, requiring 40 per cent of these roles to be filled by Saudis. This follows an initial phase implemented last year mandating a 35 per cent Saudisation rate.

‘Saudisation’ is a multi-pronged strategy to reduce the kingdom’s reliance on foreign labour. In recent years, similar initiatives have been rolled out in education, telecommunications, real estate, engineering (partially localised at 25 per cent for private firms), sales (15 per cent localised), and project management. Additionally, a plan to localise 35 per cent of dental professions is underway.

The Ministry incentivises private sector compliance by offering support programmes for employing Saudis. These include assistance with recruiting qualified candidates, training initiatives, and access to broader employment programs.

This policy shift reflects Saudi Arabia’s focus on boosting domestic employment and reducing its dependence on a foreign workforce. While the long-term economic impact remains to be seen, the near-term consequence is a tighter job market for foreign HR professionals in the kingdom.

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