November 21, 2004

Saudization Of The Workplace


According to stall manager Hassan Saleh Salman Arawiti the serious problems at Alkhobar's produce market began exactly one year and two months back. At that time, as a part of the Kingdom's Saudization efforts, the municipality forced out the Bangladeshis who had worked at the market for more than a decade. Repeated raids involving the police eventually ensured that all the expatriates were permanently driven away.

Apparently, no one stopped to ask why the Bangladeshis were there in the first place. They.... uh.... work.
"The leaseholders of the stalls tried to hire Saudis but it wasn't very successful," Arawiti said. "Those Saudis had no experience in the produce business and couldn't work the long hours the business requires for profitability. Most Saudis stayed just a week or two and they were gone. The labor problems led to some stalls closing at that time."

Customers became dissatisfied with the environment at Alkhobar's halaga. They didn't want to deal with the poor service and variable quality of the produce there. Arawiti explained that many supermarkets had begun offering produce by the carton. Customers, especially women, liked the convenience of buying their fruits and vegetables from the same place they purchased their other groceries. The stall managers found that even after the situation at Alkhobar's halaga stabilized, the customers didn't return. These days only five stalls are functioning.

It takes two Saudis to replace each expatriat worker. One wonders why they went to all the trouble of chasing out the expats, when they could have achieved the same result by simply unionizing them.

Posted by Kate at November 21, 2004 9:09 PM

Don;t be so harsh, it's part of their new westernization policy.


Posted by: Fred at November 22, 2004 8:19 AM

Let's see now. They last two weeks, don't get much work done, won't work overtime and chase away customers. That is the teenagerization of the Saudi workplace. The only way it can get worse is if they listen to Eminem on headphones, wear pants that hang so low the top half of the underpants show and the ugly hat is on backwards.

Posted by: twba at November 22, 2004 9:47 AM

I lived in the United Arab Emirates for four years before I saw a local lift anything heavier than a coffee cup. (It was a poor farmer in the sticks throwing some fodder into his truck.)
Being anything less than an owner or a manager has a very low status on the peninsula. When the oil money started to flow and they had a small population they brought in outside workers to speed development. The locals were all given "management"positions or gratuities which varied according to their tribal connections to the royal family. They could afford this until their baby boomers reached the age to start their own families.
Now they have a couple of generations that have not had to any real work and a belief that it's not their station in life to do so.
Big troubles ahead, except in Oman. The oil wealth there has only come on stream recently so the Omanis were not "spoiled". The Sultan also doesn't have a huge family that all needs to be financed like princes. An curious benefit of his gayness.

Posted by: Cal at November 22, 2004 11:57 AM

It was my contention that a Saudi male would hire out the impregnation of his wife(ves) if the thought occurred to him. Don't think I ever saw one lift anything heavier than his wallet, or the hose end of a sheesha (waterpipe)

Posted by: JSAllison at November 23, 2004 4:20 PM

A friend of mine (roommate from school) is Indian and works at a Bank in the UAE. He decided to opened a small corner-shop, and sell soap and toothpaste, sundries-stuff on the side - which by their law required a local partner.
He put up all the money for the inventory, and worked the store as a side-job, with the partner "working" the other time - and just couldn't balance the books. He discovered the partner was taking everything, goods and cash - whatever he wanted, and when my friend got the evidence on the guy he could do nothing, in fact I believe it was illegal for him to even try and prosecute.
The local was indemnified, and as a resident alien my buddy could not go to the cop or a Judge. He learned an expensive (about $10-grand US) lesson...

Posted by: -keith in mtn. view at November 23, 2004 5:28 PM