Taxi Saudisation to be phased over two years

08 January 2003
The Saudisation of taxi drivers in the kingdom is to be phased in over the course of two years, according to a plan presented by the Manpower Council on 7 January. On 30 October 2002, Crown Prince Abdullah issued an order banning all foreigners from driving taxis and telling the Interior Ministry to use 'whatever procedures and penalties are needed' to remove them from the streets by April 2003, as part of sweeping measures to reduce the role of expatriates in the job market (MEED 15:11:02). An estimated 45,000 non-Saudis work as taxi drivers in the kingdom, representing more than 90 per cent of all such workers. Under the phased plan, 30 per cent of the profession will be nationalised by April, 50 per cent by the end of 2003 and 75 per cent from the end of 2004. No new licences will be issued to taxi firms without a commitment to employ only Saudi nationals. An official in the Saudisation department, quoted in Dubai-based Gulf News on 3 January, said that there were an estimated 500,000 unemployed expatriates in Saudi Arabia, and warned that the job market, 80 per cent of which is filled by non-Saudis, was full to capacity (MEED 3:1:03).

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