New ‘Saudization’ labor initiatives aim to encourage startups

New ‘Saudization’ labor initiatives aim to encourage startups

RIYADH (Rahnuma) — A number of new services will be launched to encourage the development of small and medium enterprises (SMEs) in Saudi Arabia, and increase the number of Saudi nationals in the workforce.

The initiatives, part of an agreement signed by the Ministry of Labor and Social Development and the General Authority of Small and Medium Enterprises (Monshaat) will feature new rules around visas, and will also seek to reduce unemployment figures.

In future, up to nine work visas could be issued immediately to new enterprises managed by full-time entrepreneurs, while there will also be a one-year grace period for registration with the “Nitaqat Saudization” scheme.

“Saudization” is the process through which the government plans to increase employment of Saudi nationals in the Kingdom’s private sector, using the Nitaqat system to rate companies based on the numbers they employ.

It is currently being overseen by the Saudi Arabian Monetary Authority, which also aims to assist startups by providing easy access to all government services.

Under the initiative, new Saudi employees will be counted by the Nitaqat program immediately, improving their company’s rating faster.

The initiative aims to create about 51,000 jobs, with 24,000 firms expected to benefit from the services it will offer.

It is also expected to add about SR12 billion ($3.2 billion) to the nation’s gross domestic product over the next three years.

“We aim to convert job seekers into entrepreneurs,” said Labor and Social Development Minister Ahmad Al-Rajhi.

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