The drive by the Saudi Arabian Monetary Agency (SAMA) coincides with efforts from the kingdom’s Ministry of Labor to increase possible employment opportunities for Saudis.
According to an informed source who spoke to Asharq Al-Awsat on the condition of anonymity, the circular from the Saudi central bank had suggested that complete localization is possible in some functions, including work in retail banking branches and human resources departments.
“The move was taken as banks were estimated to be able to increase their recruitment of Saudis by 95%,” the source told Asharq Al-Awsat, adding that it was part of the coordination between SAMA and the labor ministry to curb the unemployment.
He added that Saudi employees already represent at least 86% of the workforce in most Saudi banks, which altogether employ around 50,000 people inside the kingdom.
Commenting on this development, renowned economist Fahad Al-Mushari told Asharq Al-Awsat that secretarial and human development jobs in banks could be taken by Saudis, while top consultancy posts would be harder to localize.
In recent months, Saudi Arabia has instituted tough new measures to tackle unemployment among local people by making it harder for private companies to employ some of the nearly 9 million expatriates registered as living in the country.