Job opportunities and employment to be tackled in Saudi Arabia


The forum, which is titled “Job Opportunities and Employment: A Dialogue Between the Community and Labor Institutions”, is part of the ongoing national dialogues where citizens and public figures from the private sector and the government hold period forums to address myriad issues facing the Kingdom, from social concerns to future of public policies.



The last forum was held in the northern city of Shakakah in November and addressed issues surrounding educational reforms. The time and place of the next forum has not yet been announced, but will likely take place later in the year.



Faisal ibn Muammar, secretary-general of the center, said in a press release that the topic of the next discussion was chosen out of its importance, as it is a major issue now in Saudi Arabia.



Unemployment among Saudi nationals is high: The official figure is nine percent. Women are disproportionately affected by the jobless rate. Meanwhile, the Kingdom’s population is young — nearly two-thirds of all Saudis are under the age of 30 — and the country relies heavily on imported labor for many types of work, not just low-skilled and low-wage work, but also highly skilled jobs, such as engineering, medical services and infrastructure projects.



Muammar said that the topic of labor and employment could not be discussed without the participation of both the government and private sector, and the next dialogue is aimed at bringing together these forces.



This will be the second National Dialogue where the organizers are actively pursuing more participation of high-ranking government officials.



In the last forum, officials from the Ministry of Education, including deputy ministers, directly fielded complaints and suggestions from the participating citizenry.



Participants of previous forums have complained that the National Dialogue is useless without more active participation of government decision-makers.



In August 2003 the King Abdul Aziz Center for National Dialogue was set up under the instruction of Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques King Abdullah, who was the Crown Prince at the time. The center’s goals were to expand citizens’ participation through open discussions on national issues related to economics, society, culture and politics.



So far, the center has staged six semi-annual forums with different topics, such as the problem with extremism and takfir (when Muslims label other Muslims as infidels), women’s rights in Islam, youth issues and relations between Saudi society and the outside world.


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