RIYADH — There are common scenes of expatriate workers standing in front of shops or roaming about in souks and their adjacent parking lots in Jeddah, Makkah, Taif and other cities and regions in various parts of the Kingdom.

These sights evoke doubts among the market goers about whether these foreign workers still own stakes in these shops, despite the enforcement of 100 percent Saudization of the retail businesses, according to a monitoring by Okaz/Saudi Gazette.

It seems that they engage in the illegal practice of tasattur (cover up) in a different way by hoodwinking the authorities and the Saudi customers as well. Some of these workers apparently keep a watch on the sales activities carried out by the male and female staffers in the markets.

It was evident in the monitoring that there are several expatriate workers who are still supervising some of these retail stores, especially those shops selling abayas and ready-made clothes in the popular open markets.

While speaking to Okaz/Saudi Gazette, some citizens — including Saad Al-Thubaiti, Ali Al-Harthy, and Khalaf Al-Maliki — expressed their surprise and dismay over the presence of large numbers of expatriate workers in front of the shops in the Taif markets, despite the fact that the sellers are Saudi men and women.

They exclaimed while asking does there still exists a clandestine understanding and relationship between the shops and some expatriates?

Meanwhile, sources at the Ministry of Human Resources and Social Development told Okaz/Saudi Gazette that the ministry’s oversight teams are following up and monitoring the effective implementation of all ministerial decisions related to Saudization through the ministry’s channels, and verifying the extent of implementation of Saudization before taking legal measures against the violators.

The sources revealed that the ministry is implementing the necessary procedures against violators, because the retail sector is 100 percent localized, and many female citizens are working in the sector, especially inside the establishments where non-Saudis are no longer allowed to work.

The ministry noted that it will continue monitoring the follow up on the commitment to Saudization decisions on all activities and facilities. It also stressed the importance of community members’ cooperation in reporting any violations that they monitored.

Referring to the question about the presence of illegal expatriate workers in this sector is whether due to job dropouts by Saudi female workers, the ministry sources indicated that the nature of work in the retail sector increases requests for job rotation from time to time.

The sources stated that work in the field of retail targets specific categories of female jobseekers, and many of them turn to other jobs after gaining experience and practical ability and mastering the necessary skills.

Abdulaziz Al-Mahbash, a specialist in the human resources sector, said that the growing number of job dropouts in the retail sector is one of the most important challenges facing the sector.

“The retail sector is suffering from the job dropout dilemma especially because of the fact that such types of jobs are being treated as part time jobs or summer vacation jobs meant for Saudi students.

One of the reasons for the least attractiveness of this sector is that most of the owners of these activities are owners of small and micro enterprises and they do not have a career path and this promotes the Saudi employee to switch over quickly as he is only looking for a higher income or even a percentage of the sales,” he said.

“These factors lead to the inexperience of sellers, and the owners of these stores need people with sufficient experience to train new employees in the skill of sales.

“Hence a non-Saudi employee is retained as an expert, trainer or even a data owner for many customers who are accustomed to work with him for many years,” he said while noting that owners of these stores are of the view that this expatriate employee has proved himself and he dedicates himself to work with the full knowledge of the products.


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