Saudization: Understanding Saudi Arabia’s Localization Policy

In the world economic arena, the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia (KSA) is a significant actor. Following a prompt post-pandemic rebound and recently implemented 2022 pro-business changes, Saudi Arabia’s economy has grown at one of the fastest rates in the world. There is potential for profit with strong economic expansion, particularly for international corporations. International businesses must first figure out how to manage the rules and hiring practices around Saudization.

In this article, we will be helping you understand the Saudization rules in the KSA. Do you already or intend to locate in Saudi Arabia? After that, you must understand how Saudization may damage your chances and what it entails for foreigners living in Saudi Arabia.

What is Saudization


The Saudi Nationalization Scheme, also known as Nitaqat, was initially established by the Ministry of Labor in 1985. Fundamentally, the policy requires Saudi businesses to employ a specific amount of Saudi citizens in order to fulfill their quota or Nitaqat.

The authorities have set aside particular positions in Saudi Arabia only for Saudi citizens throughout the last five to ten years. This action aims to promote gender equality in Saudi Arabia and lower unemployment rates.

The local government’s main reason for establishing this program is to lower unemployment among citizens. “Let’s Place the Saudi in Saudization” was the slogan they were using to promote the program at first.

Businesses that relocate their corporate offices to the Kingdom are not going to be subject to this policy, in accordance with the Investment Minister. However, local businesses that fail to abide by these rules run the danger of not getting government contracts. Likewise, a lot of these businesses have vocally been complaining about Saudization while also coming up with new strategies to do so.

Objectives of Saudization

In essence, Saudization aids Saudi Arabian citizens in finding employment. This is especially advantageous for women, who now have greater access than ever before to employment in civil engineering and other fields.

The KSA is aware that, in order for their economy to compete on a global scale, they must welcome foreign employees and businesses. But, they do not want to neglect their own citizens. Instead, they want to ensure Saudi workforce development.

Saudization, also known as ” Nationalization of the Saudi workforce” or “localization,” refers to a set of policies put in place by the KSA government to encourage more Saudi citizens to work and participate in the labor market. The high rate of unemployment among local citizens and the country’s desire to rely less on foreign labor were the driving forces behind this program.

The program aggressively encourages businesses, whether they are private or public, to prioritize hiring Saudi citizens over foreigners. Its goals include:

  • Making it easier for Saudi citizens to find work.
  • Improving their economic prospects and,
  • Advancing their skills and talents.

This could provide difficulties for foreigners hoping to find employment in Saudi Arabia. However, it is essential to remember that there still exist unique opportunities in several fields and professions. Consequently, obtaining a visa in the KSA can also be beneficial to enter the Saudi labor market.

The Role of Saudization in Saudi Arabia’s Development

The employment and tourist industries in Saudi Arabia have experienced tremendous expansion and transformation in recent years. As more and more professionals move to Saudi Arabia in search of employment, immigration is on the rise.

Now more than ten years have passed since the start of the Saudization program. Since then, the Nitaqat program has made sure that private businesses adhere to strict Saudization requirements. Such as hiring a minimum number of Saudi citizens, including recent graduates, and providing more Saudi employment initiatives.

Companies that adhere to Nitaqat are given high compliance ratings, with Platinum being the highest. Platinum-level corporations enjoy a variety of advantages, including faster immigration requests. Contrarily, businesses that do not adhere to the Nitaqat framework have difficulties when attempting to hire foreign labor, which motivates them to follow these Saudi job market trends. Consequently, Saudization and economic growth go hand in hand.

The system is benefiting from various improvements over the last few years. Including adjustments made to better match the framework with plans for Vision 2030. There are now fewer restrictions on labor market testing, more companies are eligible for block visa quotas, and Saudi workers can count toward the company rating right away rather than after 26 weeks.

Challenges in Implementing Saudization

The Saudi government has been implementing the Saudization Program. It is a national strategy to boost domestic employment and reduce reliance on foreign labor in businesses. This is in response to the lack of local talent. However, even when the impact of Saudization is positive, there are certain challenges that come when implementing this program.

Cultural and Social Factors

The hiring and selection processes also take into account cultural factors and social stigmas:

  • First, the possibility of working alongside other citizens and the perception that their traditions and values get respect at work, which is typically prevalent in the public sector, attract nationals.
  • Second, a person’s social status in GCC societies is significantly influenced by the kind of work they do, the industry in which they work, and the social contacts that go along with it. For KSA nationals, several job categories are socially and culturally unacceptable. Especially those that have historically been filled by low-skilled immigrant labor. Many people in the Gulf region may believe that staying jobless is preferable to accepting unfavorable jobs within the private sector.
  • Third, residents of the KSA encounter opposition from foreigners. When national workers successfully integrate within the private sector, some non-Saudi employees may be reluctant to do so. Especially if it means replacing the expatriates.
  • Finally, negative preconceptions about Saudi citizens exist. According to studies, both locals and foreigners have unfavorable perceptions of the Saudi people’s lack of necessary knowledge, abilities, and work ethics.

Workforce Skills and Training

There is a certain key cause for the high rate of unemployment among qualified people. First, their skills and the positions that were available did not match up. The work did not require the abilities they were gaining while pursuing their degree. Consequently, Saudization can become a challenge due to the lack of training and skills within the KSA workforce.

Nevertheless, the competent Ministry is currently implementing strategies to enhance the local workforce. Consequently, improving professional standards for employees and individuals entering the employment market. Therefore, those investors that want to do their company formation in Saudi Arabia, can obtain a top-notch workforce.

Private Sector Compliance

The program aggressively encourages businesses, whether they are private or public, to prioritize hiring Saudi citizens over foreigners. Its goals include making it easier for Saudi citizens to find work, improving their economic prospects, and advancing their skills and talents.

However, one of the major challenges of the Saudization policy is that private sector businesses may not comply. Companies must disclose their Saudization proportions on a regular basis to the government agencies in charge of overseeing and implementing Saudization regulations. Companies that do not comply risk penalties or other repercussions if the Saudization targets are not in place.

Benefits of Saudization for Saudi Arabia


Benefits of complying with Saudi Arabian law include:

  • Reduced processing fees and faster visa processing.
  • The capability of quickly renewing iqamas and the opportunity to do so prior to the expiration of your Iqama.
  • Eligibility to change the occupation of your employee, and
  • Businesses in the yellow or red sectors are where you can find new hires.

Organizations can better plan for the coming years by developing a Saudization strategy. They should evaluate their hiring strategy to decide whether they should increase the number of Saudi employees to meet the quota, wait until expatriates’ visas expire, and then replace them with Saudi employees, or shrink the organization, hire more Saudi employees, and outsource non-essential business operations.

Saudization in Key Industries


Oil and Gas Sector

The chain of supply for oil and gas includes localization. In order to keep up with local content laws of the host government, O&G businesses must Sauditize job roles. Laws requiring Saudization serve to promote value addition to the industry by facilitating cross-sector collaboration, boosting local participation, and preventing the negative economic effects of O&G operations. Saudization is a requirement of O&G firms under local content laws to boost the number of locals working in the industry.

Hospitality and Tourism

A lot of the choices about the future of the hospitality industry in the Kingdom are based on Saudization. Hotel behemoths like Marriott, Hilton, Accor, and the rest have all pledged to create thousands of employment in the hospitality industry for locals, and many of them also offer career-expansion programs for Saudis with ambition.

It is likely that travel and hospitality lessons will gain more traction in the area, especially among the local population in KSA. Since the anticipated growth and ensuing demand for skilled labor in the industry. This is because the sector will likely have a high employment probability. Due to the significant and growing demand to meet employer/service provider requirements.

Healthcare Industry

Saudization has significant potential in the healthcare industry if Saudi healthcare providers have the necessary skills and abilities.

In every healthcare institution functioning in the Kingdom, it was decided to localize the professions of health specialties, including those in:

  • Radiology
  • Physiotherapy
  • Therapeutic nutrition
  • Medical laboratories

The minimum salary for calculating Saudization rates was set at SR 7,000 for specialists and SR 5,000 for technicians.

Strategies for Successful Localization

Undoubtedly, the expansion of firms into foreign markets is an important factor in today’s corporate world. Long-term growth occurs primarily by establishing local operations in various regions of the world, although this also increases managerial complexity and risk. However, there are strategies for a top-notch localization process.

These include:

Collaboration between Public and Private Sectors

Localization of employees in the GCC is a necessity for a variety of reasons. Considering its recent past of independence and the developing social-economic structure, maintaining demographic balance and offering equitable chances to its naturalized citizens are top national priorities.

The majority of GCC administrations and their politicians spearhead their efforts and work to increase the share of locals working. It is irrelevant how many local employments occur. What matters is that they are retained, advanced, and developed because that is what will determine the project’s success. Their representation must be present in all elements and areas of the job sector.

The creation of jobs for locals, however, must involve tight cooperation between the public and commercial sectors. And not just be a government task. To ensure its success, a sincere public-private cooperation strategy is essential.

Well-coordinated activities must occur at many levels involving every stakeholder. For instance, the government, colleges and universities, and the private sector, taking up their necessary role in favor of tenacious resolve in the benefit of the long-term success of the national workforce. Many of the obstacles can be readily overcome with cooperation from all parties responsible.

Enhancing Education and Skills Development

Building and retaining a strong workforce, enhancing relationships within teams, boosting effectiveness and productivity, and reducing employee turnover all require a thorough, thoughtful localization strategy.

Any company’s success depends on effective training. But it is especially important for businesses that are growing abroad and trying to create cohesive teams.

Incentives and Support for Businesses

It is essential to localize HR policies and practices to ensure everyone’s productivity and safety. As well as to ensure that the business does not unintentionally break regional rules or laws. Human resource development in Saudi Arabia is essential when working with a Saudization strategy.

Incentives and subsidies are in place by the Saudi government via the HR Development Fund (HRDF) to businesses that adhere to Saudization. To assist private firms in implementing Saudization, there is also Taqat, an online job platform.

In order to maintain compliance over time, businesses must integrate Nitaqat into their hiring procedures. Taqat posting is the first legally necessary stage for private-sector employers in Saudi Arabia. However, this must be part of all hiring procedures to guarantee compliance going forward.

By anticipating the number of employees and organizational needs, HR departments can incorporate Sauditization into their procedures. This enables them to decide what positions are necessary for the business and how to find the necessary individuals while meeting quotas.

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With the support of an HR company that provides hiring and Immigration Services in Saudi Arabia, you can ensure Saudization.

Go to our insights section to learn more about Saudi Arabian matters.

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