It’s only my third week as an OFW in an air-conditioning manufacturing plant here in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia but my colleagues, especially those who have been here for more than a decade, have already been talking about going home and being sent home against their will because of the Nitaqat system which will be implemented this coming September 10, 2011.
Nitaqat, or more popularly known among the expats in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia as the “Saudization,” aims to give Saudi Nationals a better stand in the employment sector. Companies will be categorized as red, yellow, green and blue according to the percentage of their employed Saudis. Companies falling under the red category (employing approximately 0-10% Saudis, depending on the industry and total population) will not be allowed to have their expat visas renewed and they can’t acquire additional visa unless two of their present expat were sent home. Those under the yellow category (around 11-20% Saudis employed) will not be allowed to renew visas of their expats who have worked in the Kingdom for six years.
According to Adv. Shiyas Kunjibava of Expat Corner, there are 41 classifications of employment sectors. Market divisions are 164 (41 x 4) and among these 41 sector classifications, the companies are again classified as five divisions on the basis of the number of the employees — employees between 1-10, 10-49, 50-499, 500-2999 and 3000 above (SMALL, MEDIUM, LARGE & BIG/GIANT). Companies with below 10 number of employees will not come under the Nitaqat program.
For example, companies in the manufacturing industry will be categorized as follows:
NUMBER OF EMPLOYEES: 10-49
BLUE: 25% and above
NUMBER OF EMPLOYEES: 50-499
BLUE: 35% and above
NUMBER OF EMPLOYEES: 500-2999
BLUE: 35% and above
NUMBER OF EMPLOYEES: 3000-MORE
BLUE: 35% and above
To check your iqama status by color categories as per Nitaqat program, visit below the link and add your iqama number and your country name. The website is in Arabic so for those who don’t understand Arabic, enter your iqama number in the second box on the right and your nationality on the drop down box 3rd line on the left (look at the Nationality in Arabic on your Iqama and match with the option in the drop down box).
Labor Minister Adel Fakieh expects that about 40 percent of private firms will fail to employ Saudi nationals and cease to exist with the implementation of the new Saudization program, Nitaqat.
The news about the incoming implementation of the Nitaqat system have caused great panic among the expats, especially those who are scheduled to have their vacation in the coming months, when rumors saying some of the vacationing expatriates were not allowed to return to the Kingdom for work. Some even dread the idea of going out through any of the Kingdom’s airports despite the Kingdom’s efforts to deny these rumors as baseless and false. Many workers are just not convinced.
In a symposium held Thursday in Pasay City, Philippines, President Benigno “Noynoy” S. Aquino lll was asked to address the impact of the system on the country’s overseas deployment program.
“The Philippine government must study and prepare for the implications of the Nitaqat system on more than a million Overseas Filipino Workers (OFWs) in the Kingdom. We would like to see a more proactive approach taken in explaining the Nitaqat to the workers and their families,” the Daily Inquirer quoted Susan Ople, president of the Blas F. Ople Policy Center, on its website. The center was the co-organizer of the symposium.
More news links and information about Nitaqat or the Saudization below:
- Arab News, Nitaqat system
- Nitaqat may wipe out 40% of private firms
- Expat Corner, Percentage of New Saudization Program in Different Sectors – Saudi Labor Law
- Labor Ministry outlines Saudization percentage
- Labor Ministry outlines details of Nitaqat program