THE NATIONALIZATION OF SAUDI ARABIA’S LABOR MARKET AND THE OVERSEAS FILIPINO WORKERS

Henelito A. Sevilla, Jr.

Abstract


The Philippines is one of a few countries in the developing world that has heavily relied on exporting its workers to sustain its economic growth and maintain its economy afloat. Despite attempts by previous administrations to minimize sending workers through the institution of various national and local programs and policies in the country, many Filipinos continue to leave the Philippines hoping to alleviate the difficult economic conditions of their families at home.  The idea of working abroad is seen by many as normal and practical in a globalizing world economy, where countries’ physical borders are opened to foreign workers and where skills and talents are shared by many nations. However, globalization itself has not produced a conducive working environment for some workers. This is illustrated when certain countries, in spite of their economic wealth and long-held practice of accepting foreign workers, have no existing standardized policies, which guarantees non-discrimination in the working environment and ensure smooth delivery of social benefits and protection to ordinary foreign workers. In addition, state and private companies may also practice economic nationalism to protect their own local workers at the expense of foreign workers. This paper seeks to elucidate the conditions of Overseas Filipinos Workers (OFWs) in Saudi Arabia, which strictly implemented “Saudization” policy since 2011. In particular, the paper tries to address the following questions: What does “Saudization”(nitaqat) mean from Filipinos’ perspectives? Who is the target of this policy? How have OFWs been affected by such policy? How will the Philippine government respond to this policy? This paper is centered on its main thesis that strict implementation of Saudi’s nationalization policy, which is centered on solving socio-economic problem facing young and unemployed Saudis, will have negative implications for all foreign workers including Filipinos in the Kingdom, especially undocumented ones.


Keywords


Nitaqat/Saudization, Nationalization of labor market, Overseas Filipino Workers (OFWs), policy reforms, strategic economic policy, labor agreements, Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, Republic of the Philippines.

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References


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  Journal of South Asian Studies
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