Sunday, June 26, 2011

The new Egypt: really does not heart House of Saud

"The announcement of new rules governing foreign labor in Saudi Arabia has caused consternation about the fate of Egyptian migrant workers there.  The notaqat (zones) program was announced in May by Saudi Labor Minister Adel Fakieh. It divides private sector companies into four categories, according to the number of Saudis employed. In companies where 10 percent or less of the workforce is Saudi, foreign workers who have been with the company for more than six years will not have their contracts renewed. The program excludes workers in domestic service.  Notaqat is a response to increasing unemployment in the kingdom, which currently stands at roughly 15 percent of the country’s 25 million population according to the country’s Labor Ministry website.  The Egyptian media was quick to condemn the policy as an attack on Egyptian migrant workers, who make up one third of the oil-rich kingdom’s total expatriate worker population. Some described it as a political move.   In an opinion piece published in Al-Masry Al-Youm earlier this month, for example, Hassan Nafea suggested that the policy change has political dimensions."