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Insights What is Saudization and how will it impact the development of Saudi Arabia?

Are you planning to move abroad to Saudi Arabia to take advantage of the excellent career opportunities in the Kingdom? If so, it’s crucial that you understand Saudization and how it might affect you and your career path. 

What exactly is Saudization, and why is it so important? Read on to find out. 

What is Saudization?

Officially known as the Saudi Nationalisation Scheme or Nitaqat, Saudization was first introduced in 1985 by the Ministry of Labour. At its core, the policy mandates that Saudi companies must hire a certain number of Saudi Nationals to meet their quota or nitaqat.

However, in the past five to ten years, the government has set aside specific jobs in Saudi Arabia just for Saudi nationals. This move is meant to decrease Saudi unemployment and encourage equal opportunities for men and women. 

Why is Saudization important?

Essentially, Saudization is helping local people get jobs in Saudi Arabia. This is especially beneficial for women, who have more access to civil engineering jobs and other careers in the country than ever before.

While the KSA realises that while their economy needs to embrace foreign workers and companies to compete on the global stage, they don’t want to leave their own people behind.

What progress has been made so far?

Over the past few years, Saudi Arabia has witnessed unprecedented growth and change in its employment and tourism sectors. More than ever, immigration is soaring as professionals seeking jobs in Saudi Arabia flock to the Kingdom.

The Saudization program has now been underway for more than ten years. During this time, the Nitaqat (quota) framework has ensured private companies meet specific Saudization thresholds, including employing minimum numbers of Saudi nationals, including youth fresh from university

Companies that comply with Nitaqat receive favourable ratings, with the highest compliance rated Platinum. Platinum companies receive many benefits and privileges, including streamlined immigration requests. On the other hand, companies that do not comply with the Nitaqat framework face barriers when trying to employ foreign workers, encouraging them to follow the framework’s guidelines

In the past few years, the system has benefitted from several revisions, including modifications designed to align the framework with Vision 2030 plans. More companies can now apply for block vias quotas, labour market testing requirements have been relaxed, and Saudi employees now count as part of the company’s rating immediately instead of after 26 weeks.

What impact does Saudization have on foreign workers in KSA?

In most cases, foreigners won’t notice Saudization while working in jobs in Saudi Arabia. Instead, they’ll go about their typical tasks and duties, just as they would in any other country.

However, the government has selected twelve specific private-sector jobs in Saudi Arabiathat are only open to Saudi nationals. This was done to help quell the high Saudi unemployment rate and ensure that local men and women benefit from the bustling economy. These jobs are primarily in sales and retail, including selling glasses, medical equipment, watches, motorbikes, and cars.

What can we expect to see in the future for KSA?

Saudi Arabia predicts a massive boom in tourism and growth over the next seven years, in line with their Vision 2030goals. The country is currently developing many archaeological sites and luxury resorts to encourage tourism, which has been allowed since the introduction of tourist visas in 2019

Find your next role in Saudi Arabia at AtkinsRéalis

There are plenty of exciting roles and opportunities in Saudi Arabia for foreigners and locals alike. Project management jobs, architecture and planning jobs, and engineering jobs are all available for dynamic and skilled professionals.

You could work on exciting projects, such as revitalising Historic Jeddah, theMohammed Bin Rashid Al Maktoum Solar Park, or the AlUla Project. Saudi Arabia emphasises the importance of Green initiatives and net zero goals so this is an opportunity to work on projects that benefit the planet.

The AtkinsRéalis Group is a highly regarded group of global brands that includes AtkinsRéalis , Atkins, and Faithful+Gould. All of these brands currently have opportunities in Saudi Arabia – now is the time to find out more about jobs in Saudi Arabia, join the talent community, and sign up for job alerts.