Northman & Sterling

Entering Saudi Market for Businesses

Relocating to another country is a difficult process for a Corporation. Most countries welcome corporations to move to their countries in order to increase labor for the residents, Saudi Arabia is no exception. They have suffered for years with high unemployment for their citizens so they do welcome a company moving in that will employ the people of Saudi Arabia. That being said they have strict guidelines and it is very necessary that they be followed as once denied access it is almost impossible to reverse the Kingdoms decision.

New laws enacted over the past few years in Saudi Arabia to protect the skilled workers that are not employed. A key initiative was the implementation of formal localization (‘Saudisation’) policies that aim to prescribe minimum thresholds that entities are to adhere to. These policies require that citizens who have the skills that an entity needs would have more opportunity to gain a position with that entity. Currently, a company (or entity) is governed under certain laws which follow the Nitaqat Guide. This guide puts a scoring system on the entities and if they drop below a certain level then it becomes extremely difficult for them to gain work visas for people outside of the country.

Another ongoing initiative is the reservation of certain designations for Saudi nationals alone be given specific job titles over foreign nationals. Such roles typically include human resources positions, clerical positions, and some higher managerial roles. The list of restricted job titles is routinely amended, and additional positions typically added. This may seem restrictive, but these types of roles are important that someone within the country who clearly understands the laws on compensation and benefits as well as the culture of the country, need to be held by a person that is a resident of that country.

The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia is extremely strict on making sure that companies comply with all aspects of their immigration, and employment laws. They do not allow foreign nationals that have come over to work in Saudi Arabia to change companies if they so choose. If an employee came over on a work visa, then they are to stay with that company or leave the country.

As with all work-related immigration policies it is necessary to make sure that an entity has knowledgeable people in their corner that can assist in the transition of moving a company to KSA. A business support services company can be a great partner for everything that relates to relocating a company, getting work visas for employees, working with employees on a successful transition, and keeping the company’s focus on growing their business.