Despite Nitaqat, Saudi Issued 1.7m Work Visas in 2013



JEDDAH, Feb 11 — Saudi Arabia’s foreign missions issued more than 1.7 million recruitment visas in 2013 despite the Labor Ministry’s Nitaqat nationalization campaign to replace expat workers with Saudi nationals, said a statement issued by the Foreign Ministry.

The work visas were issued to meet the manpower requirements of development projects across the country and reduce the shortage of workers due to the departure of thousands of foreigners, especially illegals, during the correction campaign.

Shoura Council members have criticized the Labor Ministry’s Nitaqat program, saying it has failed to yield positive results.

“Companies manipulate the system to give the impression that they have helped Saudis get employed,” a member told the Shoura meeting.

Unemployment rates rose to 12.5 percent in 2012 despite the huge amounts of money, estimated at SR12 billion, invested with the Human Resource Development Fund, said Saeed Al-Asheikh.

The Foreign Ministry said its 112 foreign missions and 12 temporary Haj missions issued a total of 10.36 million visas in 2013, a 3.8 percent decline from the previous year, when the ministry issued 10.7 million visas.

The missions issued 5.6 million Umrah visas, which accounted for 55 percent of the total number of visas issued, and 1.35 million Haj visas, which was 20.4 percent less than the previous year.

The number of visit visas issued by missions has jumped by 7.2 percent to 1.13 million. —  Arab News

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