French foreign minister to discuss regional issues and trade during visit in Saudi Arabia

French Minister for Europe and Foreign Affairs Jean-Yves Le Drian
Updated 15 November 2017

French foreign minister to discuss regional issues and trade during visit in Saudi Arabia

RIYADH: Political, cultural and economic relations will be on the menu during the French Minister for Europe and Foreign Affairs Jean-Yves Le Drian's visit to Riyadh, which starts today.

Le Drian will be received by King Salman and hold talks with Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, Prince Badr bin Farhan and Foreign Minister Adel Al-Jubeir.

The French foreign minister’s visit to Saudi Arabia takes place within the framework of the close bilateral political dialogue that France has with Saudi Arabia. Opportunities to develop economic and cultural relations as part of Vision 2030 and the National Transformation Program (NTP) 2020 will also be explored.

Saudi Arabia is France’s largest trading partner in the region. In 2015, French exports to the Kingdom increased by 6 percent to reach more than 3 billion euros, while French imports exceeded 5 billion euros. In 2016, French exports and imports to the Kingdom totalled more than 8 billion euros.

More than 80 French companies operate in Saudi Arabia and employ nearly 28,000 people, including 10,000 Saudis. And 24 Saudi companies have been established in France, employing about 3,200 people and generating a turnover of nearly €350 million.

Le Drian will give a speech at the MiSK Global Forum on Thursday.

He will also participate in the launch of a new range of “FitLife” premium poultry products in the presence of senior Saudi politicians and businessmen.

Le Drian’s visit to Saudi Arabia comes six days after a visit by French President Emmanuel Macron, who met Crown Prince Mohamed bin Salman.

Saudi employers given green light to cut wages, hours

Updated 07 April 2020

Saudi employers given green light to cut wages, hours

  • But businesses hit by coronavirus can change contracts only with employees’ consent, ministry says

JEDDAH: Saudi private-sector employers whose businesses have been crippled by the coronavirus pandemic have been told they can cut their employees’ wages and working hours.

But they may do so only with the employees’ consent, and the reduced wages must accurately reflect the number of hours worked, the Ministry of Human Resources and Social Development said.

The ministry also moved to allay fears among some private sector staff, both Saudi and expatriate, that unscrupulous employers could use the coronavirus crisis to exploit their workers.

“Workers can report any violation through the ministry’s website, channels and social media platforms,” Saad Al-Hammad, director of Human Resources Affairs at the ministry, told
Arab News.

In addition, employers who have benefited from state subsidies, such as the SR9 billion ($2.4 billion) fund created last week to compensate Saudi workers for the effects of the pandemic, may not terminate employment contracts. Employees, however, retain the right to do so.

The ministry said its aim was to protect employees from dismissal or loss of contractual benefits during the pandemic. It would continue to regulate the labor market, mitigate the economic effects of the virus outbreak on the private sector and protect the interests of both parties in the labor relationship, it said.

Saudi legal counsel Dimah Talal Al-Sharif said amending the contractual relationship between employer and employee in this way was permissible under the legal concept known as “force majeure,” which applied to the coronavirus pandemic.

“The ministerial decision aims to limit any attempt to tamper with people’s rights as employees, and to define the limits that both parties must agree on first, while also reflecting the reality,” Al-Sharif told Arab News.