Saudization as a solution for unemployment: the case of Jeddah Western region

Fakeeh, Manal S. (2009) Saudization as a solution for unemployment: the case of Jeddah Western region. PhD thesis, University of Glasgow.

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Saudi Arabia is a young wealthy nation with multiple social and economic problems. While the country is extremely wealthy, it has a young population, many of whom are unemployed. The country is highly dependent on a single resource (oil), and relies heavily on imported labour to meet the requirements of economic growth and contribute to the development of the country. In recognition of these systemic problems, the Government has developed a policy of ‘Saudization’ as a way of replacing expatriate with Saudi workers as a way of solving the problem of unemployment.
This thesis is an attempt to understand the roots of this paradox of high wealth and high unemployment. How did Saudi Arabia arrive at a situation where it became dependent on the labour of expatriates and why did the government not use the countries’ wealth to create a vibrant high-skill economy? What strategies is the government using to deal with alarming rates of high unemployment, and how successful are their endeavours. Is Saudization the answer to the current labour market situation and, if not, what are the shortcomings of the policy? These are questions addressed in this thesis.
With Saudi Arabia having developed relatively recently, the thesis begins by providing an historical overview of the establishment of the Kingdom and at the impact of the 1970s oil boom. It focuses on the labour market, the role of religion and on government attempts to stem rising unemployment through the policy of Saudization. The thesis draws on documentary evidence as well as on interviews with representatives of the key stakeholder groups: policy makers, employers and employees.
It is argued that the roots of the problem in the Saudi labour market can be traced back to the process of transformation from an agricultural to an industrial society. Reliance on oil wealth and the establishment of a rentier economy led to a situation where citizens had a low level of involvement in the economy or the political process and labour needs were met through the recruitment of expatriate employees rather than through education and training.
The thesis argues that the policy of Saudization falls short in several key areas. First, Saudization as a policy is targeting the symptom (unemployment) instead of focusing on the problem employability. In many respects, the education system and labour market situations are poorly aligned; strict religious controls over the content of the curriculum and a lack of forward planning means that young Saudis are not being equipped with the hard or soft skills necessary to meet economic demands. Second, the policy is not tuned into the needs of the private sector and has failed to meet the concerns of employers or employees. Third, the policy has failed to respect the varying situations of employers in different sectors of the labour market and should recognise the need to set industry specific targets for Saudization.
In sum, the research lends weight to the idea that Saudization is deficient as a policy and that, without targeted logistics and application, provides little more than a short-term solution to unemployment.

Item Type: Thesis (PhD)
Qualification Level: Doctoral
Keywords: Pre industrial Saudi Arabia, Nation building and Saudi Arabia, the Saudi oil boom of the 1970s, Saudi Arabia and industrialization, innovation, ideologies. The Saudi labour market, employment, unemployment, natural resources, skill and human capital, Education, late start of education, Saudization the cultural homogenization of the workforce, Saudization methods, Saudization targets, and policy makers view, and private sector view, and workers view, and methods, and barriers, successful Saudization, workers' interrelations and power struggle in Saudi Arabia, Saudi Arabia and inviting change.
Subjects: H Social Sciences > HD Industries. Land use. Labor
H Social Sciences > H Social Sciences (General)
H Social Sciences > HC Economic History and Conditions
Colleges/Schools: College of Social Sciences > Adam Smith Business School
Supervisor's Name: Furlong, Professor Andy and Burns, Doctor George
Date of Award: 2009
Depositing User: Ms Manal S Fakeeh
Unique ID: glathesis:2009-1454
Copyright: Copyright of this thesis is held by the author.
Date Deposited: 21 Jan 2010
Last Modified: 10 Dec 2012 13:40

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