The Council of Minister’s instructed the Ministry of Labor and Social Development (MLSD) and the Ministry of Housing not to issue or renew work permits of expatriates without a lease contract registered in the Ejar system from September onwards.


The ministries will organize awareness campaigns across the Kingdom to ensure that expatriates authenticate their residential rent contracts and register in the Ejar network before renewal or issuance of work permit.


The decision, which comes as the implementation of the Cabinet’s resolution dated February 13, 2017, aims to enhance the services of the real-estate sector as well as ensure expatriates’ documentation of lease contracts in the network, promote enrichment of advanced services and contribute to the development of electronic transformation.


The Ejar program was launched earlier in February 2018 to establish an electronic network for rental services which would simplify renting procedures and for registering the mutual commitments between tenants, landlords and real estate middlemen. The initiative also enabled electronic payment of rents through SADAD either monthly or quarterly or half-yearly or annually.


The Ministry of Housing is undertaking several new schemes to ensure sustainable development of the Kingdom’s rental sector by protecting the rights of the tenant, the landlord and the realtor.


Arab News – 30 July 2018

The Finance Ministry’s Debt Management Office (DMO) has begun selling local currency government bonds through a new “primary dealer” programme which is designed to increase demand for the debt and widen the range of investors holding it.


The Ministry announced that the first edition of the Primary Dealers Program for Susuk distribution has taken place under the program, the Saudi Press Agency (SPA) reported.


Alinma Bank, Bank Aljazira, Samba Financial Group, The National Commercial Bank, and The Saudi British Bank were appointed as primary dealers and are involved in buying the susuk directly from the government and then immediately making a market in them by quoting two-way prices to other investors.


The primary dealers represent a Public-Private Partnership based on experience, professionalism and advanced capabilities, to develop the Debt Capital Markets of Saudi Arabia. They also contribute to the expansion of investor base in their capacity in the primary market.


“Market-making will play an active role in stimulating the financial markets as a whole and significantly increasing the liquidity in the secondary market”, said the ministry.


The Primary Dealers Program comes in line with the strategies of the Financial Sector Development Program (FSDP) which aims to enable financial institutions to increase the growth of the private sector through the development of financial markets.


Saudi Gazette – 27 July 2018

The Ministry of Labor and Social Development (MLSD) revoked the decision to restrict profession change in iqamas of expatriate employees. From Muharram 1, employers can change job titles of employees’ subject to certain guidelines.


The Ministry’s official spokesman Khalid Aba Al-Khail informed that applications for profession change should be submitted online at the ministry’s web portal and requests will be accepted if they are in line with the occupation matrix system and labor laws.


He said that the new system will work in collaboration with the Saudi Council of Engineers, the Saudi Commission for Health Specialities and the Saudi Organization for Certified Public Accountants to complete the profession change process.


Employees applying for engineering, medical and accounting job titles will be verified to check if they have a professional certification and necessary practical skills in their respective fields. Professional license applicants must pass the practitioners’ classification test which evaluates a candidate’s qualifications to determine the professional level and ensure competence.


Saudi Gazette – 27 July 2018

In line with the objectives of Vision 2030, Saudi Arabia’s Ministry of Justice announced plans to open full-fledged labor court in the Kingdom early next year.This will increase transparency of the labor market and thereby boost investment and drive the economy towards development.


The preparations for the labor court are on track with judges being trained, staff getting proper induction and court buildings being prepared and connected digitally.


The ministry said that the labor courts will be connected to all government entities that deal with labor. The court will play a significant role in simplifying procedures and increasing the efficiency in conducting projects as well as ensuring employee’s security and protection at work.


With the setting up of labor court, the ministry aims to boost investment opportunities, achieve excellence, swiftness of the labor judiciary, and benefit from the rich databases of the courts.


Arab News- 24 July 2018

In an e-Government survey conducted by the United Nations to assess the development of municipal portals in 40 pilot cities across the world, Saudi Arabia’s capital, Riyadh ranked 30th position. The survey is dedicated to transform cities to sustainable and resilient societies.


The survey report, published by the UN Department of Economic and Social Affairs after assessing 7 African cities, 6 American cities, 13 cities in Asia, 12 in Europe, and 2 in Oceania, showed a persistent positive global trend towards higher levels of e-government development.


The survey, based on Local Online Services Index (LOSI) ranked Moscow, Cape Town and Tallinn in the top three positions while Riyadh ranked 30th place. The LOSI evaluates technical and content aspects of each municipality/city, electronic services provision and e-participation initiatives available through the portals.


Arab News – 24 July 2018

As the countdown to Hajj begins, Saudi authorities intensified the ban on entry of unauthorized people to Makkah, which began earlier on July 9. The ban will be in force till the end of Hajj. Officials informed that more than 72,000 people and 30,449 vehicles were turned back from various entry points to the Holy city as of Friday.


Inspections are being carried out by security authorities round the clock at checkpoints in Shumaisi new and old Kakiah, Sharayah to prevent unauthorized people from entering the holy city.


The entry of expatriates to Makkah have been restricted to those who have a valid Haj permit (Thasreeh), those with residence permits (iqamas) issued from Makkah and those having permits to work in Makkah and holy sites during Hajj season. This year, permits to work in Makkah have been issued through web portals.


Taneem check point near Aysha Mosque in Makkah turned back 5,933 unauthorized vehicles and 710 people while Buhaitia check post near Sayl in Taif turned back 626 vehicles and 1,202 people from entering Makkah.


Saudi Gazette – 23 July 2018

Dubai-based group, Majid Al-Futtaim Cinemas announced that it will open its first multiplex in Jeddah at the highly popular Red Sea Mall by December. Earlier, the company had announced its interest to bring world-class entertainment to cities across the Kingdom as soon as the ban on cinemas was lifted in Saudi Arabia.


VOX’s parent company, Majid Al-Futtaim, has already announced project investments valued at SR16 billion across its mall asset, fashion, leisure and retail offerings, a commitment that is expected to create over 114,000 direct and indirect job opportunities. The investment will dedicate SR2 billion to set up over 600 screens across Saudi Arabia over the next five years.


The cinema will include 12 screens, of which three will be GOLD by Rhodes, the first of its kind in the Kingdom. GOLD by Rhodes is a unique dining concept in participation with Michelin-starred chef Gary Rhodes, which allows Saudi cinema guests to order gourmet meals directly to their reclining seats while enjoying movies on digital surround-sound and wall-to-wall high-definition screens.


VOX Cinemas will also be opening an IMAX theatre at the Red Sea Mall featuring the largest IMAX screen in Saudi Arabia and the mall is expected to hit 18.5 million visitors by the end of 2018.


Arab News – 17 July 2018

The General Authority of Statistics (GAStat) reports indicated a positive growth in the Saudi job market with more than 350,000 new job opportunities to be created for locals and expatriates in the near future.


The report predicts 38,000 new opportunities for Saudis and 67,000 vacancies for foreigners in the food, commercial and housing sector. Meanwhile, the industrial sector will have 23,000 job openings for Saudis and 32,000 vacancies for foreigners. The construction industry is expected to generate 11,000 openings for Saudis and at least 53,000 for foreigners. The entertainment sector will provide employment to 750 Saudis as well as foreigners.


The GaStat reports indicated a drop in female unemployment rate in the Kingdom to 30.9 percent during the first quarter of 2018. However, despite untiring efforts from the government, unemployment rate among Saudi men increased from 6.1 percent in first quarter of 2017 to 7.6 percent in the first quarter of 2018.


The contribution of Saudi enterprises to the Kingdom’s GDP showed a slight increase from 41.86 percent to 41.89 percent. The average salary for Saudi men was SR8,388 last year and SR4,939 for Saudi women while it was SR2,679 for non-Saudi men and SR4,737 for non-Saudi women.


Saudi Gazette – 17 July 2018

According to reports published by Saudi Arabian Monetary Agency (SAMA), consumer spending in Saudi Arabia has hit a record high amount of SR91.10 billion this May in comparison to SR84.11 billion during the same month in 2017.


The report attributed the 23-month high spending to extensive household shopping by locals and expatriates at the end of Sha’ban and the beginning of Ramadan. Due to increased consumer spending, banks and ATMs across the Kingdom witnessed large-scale withdrawals, registering an increase of 4.3 percent compared to May 2017.


In May 2018, 93 percent of consumer spending were on foodstuffs and drinks, representing 13.7 percent of goods at sales points. Entertainment sector showed a growth of 31 percent with sales points adding up to SR992 million while the spending on communication sector reached SR184 million.


Saudi Gazette – 16 July 2018

Saudi Arabia will introduce its first comprehensive bankruptcy law on August 18, as the nation is on a drive to overhaul its economy. The new system will enhance the confidence of local and foreign investors in private businesses as well as boost Saudi Arabia’s rankings in global economic indicators especially insolvency reports.


The bankruptcy law, once established will provide better solutions to financially struggling companies, said Majid Al-Rasheed, secretary of the Saudi bankruptcy committee at the Ministry of Trade and Investment in an interview with Saudi newspaper Al Iqtesadiya.


The much-awaited law will also offer protection to creditors such as banks, as well as troubled companies that seek to wind up their affairs in an orderly manner, thereby shielding themselves from arbitrary seizure of their assets.


The law is applicable to any person practising commercial, professional or profitable activities in Saudi Arabia, as well as any Saudi-registered companies or foreign investors that own assets in the Kingdom through a Saudi-licensed entity. Once implemented, the law will be the sole regulation covering bankruptcy, effectively replacing previous rules passed in 1996.


Gulf News – 15 July 2018