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Al-Arabiya - December 17, 2013

by Abdulrahman Al-Rashed

Jobs are the cause of the problem and the solution. Although the problem and its solution are both clear, there aren’t any practical solutions for this escalating problem yet. This is the case even though more universities have been opened, more students have been engaged in exchange programs, more support has been provided for agencies recruiting citizens and more restraints have been imposed on foreigners in the Saudi Kingdom and the rest of Gulf. These are countries which currently possess revenues that may not be available later.

Many statements have been made on the subject, but most of them fall within the boundaries of propaganda or wishful thinking. For example, no one can believe what the Saudi labor minister said, or rather what was attributed to him, that one quarter of Saudi citizens replaced the illegal laborers who were deported in the past six months. Hiring 250,000 people to replace 70,000 people does not add up! Second of all, most of the deported laborers performed simple tasks like selling tissue paper in the streets or working in restaurants, grocery stores and construction sites.

When officials resort to exaggerating results or making fake promises for the future, you realize that they don’t really have solutions as their only aim is to generate publicity for themselves and their institutions.

This applies to what is being said about hiring thousands of women in Saudi Arabia. This is not possible for clear reasons because women are prohibited from performing most jobs and universities are prohibited from preparing them to perform these jobs!

A structural problem

Therefore, the problem is structural. The problem is rooted in the society, in education, in governmental regulations and in the failure to hold high-ranking state officials responsible for their failure to implement their promises and statements.

There is a section of society that wants the government to fail and that continuously obstruct all efforts towards change. This category knows well that unemployment and low incomes are the most prominent indications of governmental failure and the easiest means to incite opposition towards the government in the future. The employment of women is not a luxury but a real need for Saudis because there is no other means to supplement the income of the head of the household.

Legislation and statements are not enough. Unemployment is on the rise. The government can use the aid of specialized institutions to study the market, recruit and educate people in order to alter a future which will most likely be marred by worrying unemployment.

The government can also adopt a braver education and employment policy despite any objections. Solutions must be bigger than the few jobs women are performing as sellers, cashiers or cooks. Such jobs will help a few thousand women, but what about the more than one million women still seeking employment?

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