The so-called “Saudization” process refers to the strategies pursued by the government of Saudi Arabia so as to increase the number of Saudi citizens who work in the private sector. (Alwethainani & Dato’ Mansor, 2016) This policy has been officially portrayed as seeking to achieve three strategic goals: 1) reduce the number of unemployed Saudi nationals in the domestic economy (Ramady, 2010, p. 366), 2) Minimize the dependency upon foreign labor forces (Ramady, 2010, p. 366) 3) Remittances and income which would have gone to the home countries of foreign labor is to be reintegrated into the Saudi domestic economy. (Ramady, 2010, p. 366) At the same time, the policy itself is only necessary in so far as the private sector has relied upon international foreign labour. (Alwethainani & Dato’ Mansor, 2016) From this perspective, it can be argued that the entire process of Saudization is a particular response to the fact that the Saudi private sector has taken advantage of the framework of global capitalism, thereby employing cheap labor forces, while neglecting Saudi nationals. Whereas Saudization could be hailed as an attempt to correct this neglect, from another perspective, the process also creates a new set of problems, whereby the expatriate is confronted with the loss of employment. From the conceptual perspective of social psychology, this shift could be analyzed from a reversal of ingroup/outgroup status. Whereas Saudi nationals were previously the outgroup with regards to employment in the private sector, such that foreign workers constituted the preferred ingroup, it is now the Saudi national who belongs to the ingroup whereas foreign labor are now an outgroup. This informs the following potential research question: in so far as ingroup/outgroup delineations in a given society are ethically problematic (Dasgupta, 2004), is it not the case that the Saudization process has not addressed fundamental social problems, above all those related to the nature of global capitalism, but merely reversed ingroup/outgroup statuses in society?
In order to investigate this research question, qualitative research based on interviews which include all affected groups (managers, Saudi nationals, expatriots, etc.,) could include the following questions, which attempt to 1) understand individual views of the process, 2) portray first-person narratives about the Saudization process, 3) allow interviewees to situate the Saudization process in the context of their own experiences, prejudices, world-views, 4) allow interviewees to situate the Saudization process in relation to more global questions, such as the effects of global capitalism.
1. How do you view the Saudization process?
2. What are the positive effects of the Saudization process?
3. What are the negative effects of the Saudization process?
4. How have you been directly affected by the Saudization process?
5. Do you consider the Saudization process as reflective of ingroup/outgroup concepts, the former defined as “a group which one belongs to” (Hewstone, Rubin & Willis, 2002, p. 575) and the latter defined as “a group to which one does not belong to” (Hewstone, Rubin & Willis, 2002, p. 575)?
6. To what extent do you view the Saudization process as the result of globalization, and, more specifically, that of global capitalism?
7. To what extent do political entities, such as nation-states, have obligations to their citizens in terms of employment, and to what extent do these same political entities have obligations to business, private enterprise, the functioning of the free market, and participation in global capital?
8. How in your view does the Saudization process address the concept of worker’s rights?
9. What is your view on globalization, and, more specifically, the globalization of the labour market?
- Alwethainani, M. & Dato’ Mansor, Z.B. (2016). “Localization of Workforce in Saudi Arabia: Historical Review of the Problem.” Science International. 28(2). 1781-1785.
- Dasgupta, N. (2004). Implicit Ingroup Favoritism, Outgroup Favoritism, and their Behavioral Manifestations. Social Justice Research. Vol. 17, No. 2. June. 143-169.
- Hewstone, M., Rubin, M. & Willis, H. (2002). Annual Review of Psychology. 53. 575-604.
- Ramady, M.A. (2010). The Saudi Arabian Economy: Policies, Achievements, and Challenges. New York: Springer.