RIYADH — Efforts to replace expatriates with Saudi pharmacists began last week in right earnest.
The first phase of the plan went initiated last week aims at Saudizing 20 percent of pharmacists in the profession. An extra 30 percent is envisaged in the second phase of the plan due to start next year.
Spokesman for the Saudi Ministry of Human Resources Nasser Al-Hazani told state television Al Ekhabriya that the government seeks to employ 3,000 Saudi pharmacists by 2022.
In February, the minister of human resources issued a decree for gradual replacement of foreign pharmacists in Saudi Arabia with Saudi counterparts. The decree applies to institutions employing at least five expatriate pharmacists.
“Since the decree was issued, 1,500 Saudi pharmacists have been employed," Al-Hazani said.
“The decree is part of a host of initiatives launched by the ministry aimed at motivating and improving the work environment in the private sector to employ Saudis and raise competitiveness level among enterprises at the labor market,” he said.
“It also aims to increase the participation of Saudis in national development,” the official added.
He said the ministry will take necessary measures to implement the decree in different enterprises in the Kingdom, and warned of an unspecified penalty against the non-compliant businesses.
An estimated 21,530 foreign pharmacists are registered in Saudi Arabia, according to 2018 figures.
Last month, the Saudi Shoura (Consultative) Council voted for a proposal to Saudize the pharmacy sector, one of the biggest commercial activities in the Kingdom. The sector is dominated by Arab expatriates, according to local media.
The proposal calls for limiting ownership of and works at pharmacies to Saudi nationals as part of the country’s drive to provide jobs for Saudi graduates of pharmacology schools.
The author of the proposal argued that there are enough Saudi pharmacists to meet the local job market needs.
Foreigners make up about 10.5 million of Saudi Arabia’s total population of 34.8 million.
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