Unemployment among Saudis was up 10.5% in 2009. The number of unemployed reached 448,547, up from 416,350 in August of 2008, according to a study by the Central Department of Statistics and Information released Wednesday (April 21st).
The study was conducted using a sample of 25,000 Saudi families living in Riyadh, Mecca, Medina, Qasim, Eastern Province, Asir, Tabuk, Ha'il, Northern Border, Najran, Al-Bahah, and Al-Jouf.
The figures generated mixed reactions among the unemployed, who live in the largest oil-producing country in the world. About 10 million expatriates (27% of the total population) live in Saudi Arabia, triggering a campaign of "Saudisation" adopted by the government to achieve balance in the percentage of workers in all fields.
These number of expats increases every year, in spite of the Kingdom's efforts to gradually dispense with their services, bolster the national workforce and decrease the unemployment rates.
Report discusses labour migration
On Monday (April 19th), the League of Arab States, in co-operation with the Arab Labour Organisation and the International Organization for Migration, launched the first Arab report on intra‐regional labour mobility in the Arab World.
Dr. Ahmed Mohammad Luqman, director general of the Arab Labour Organisation, said that the percentage of the intra‐regional Arab labour mobility is currently less than 23%, according to the Arab Labour Organisation. The World Bank estimates it at 16.3%.
Luqman said there are 13 million emigrants worldwide, and among that figure, 5.8 million live in the Arab region. He pointed out that intra-regional remittances into Arab countries are estimated to have reached $35.1 billion in 2009, down by 6.6% from last year.
Expat remittances into countries like Egypt, Lebanon, and Jordan are between 40% and 190% higher than the revenues from the exports of these countries to the other Arab states.
Emirates Airlines resumes flights
Emirates Airlines started flights to the UK again on Wednesday (April 21st), after a six-day shutdown caused by the Icelandic ash cloud. The first flight landed in London Heathrow airport, carrying about 500 passengers.
Salem Obaidalla, Emirates Airlines senior vice president for commercial operations for Europe and the Russian Federation, said, "Emirates has resumed almost all of its flights to the European countries, and it will send three additional flights from Dubai to London within the next 24 hours to help the passengers who have been stranded in the airports since the eruption of the Icelandic volcano."
"In total on Wednesday our Europe flights carried some 9,000 passengers, and we have 350 currently left in Dubai as a result of the disruption, but they will be on their way as soon as possible," he added.
As a result of the disruption, the airline has lost approximately $10 million a day, and some 100,000 passengers around the network were affected.
Etihad Airways resumed normal flights to Europe on Wednesday, after cancelling about 123 of them, for combined losses of more than 90 million dirhams. An Etihad spokeswoman said that just over 22,000 passengers were affected by the cancellations. Emirates and Etihad cancelled about 370 flights last week.