Saudi Arabia employed 250,000 nationals in the first 12 months of a new program it launched to replace expatriates in the private sector with Saudis, Riyadh newspaper reported citing Minister of Labor Adel Fakeih.
The number of people employed under the program called Nitaqat, or Ranges, in its first year is more than those employed in the five years before its implementation, the newspaper cited him as saying. Announced in May 2011, the plan for the first time rewards companies that employ a higher percentage of Saudis.
Saudi Arabia, has 28 million people, about 8.6 million of whom are foreigners, who make up most of the labor force. Just 4.3 million of the almost 19 million Saudis were in the workforce in 2009, according to data from the Central Department of Statistics and Information.