Saudi labor ministry plans new foreign manpower program

In this file photo, Laborer work to remove a pole outside a residential building in Riyadh on Feb. 9, 2016. (REUTERS)
Updated 14 November 2019

Saudi labor ministry plans new foreign manpower program

  • The Kingdom intends to gradually cancel labor visas issued under the previous system
  • Says it will prioritize certain occupational categories

ISLAMABAD: Saudi Arabia will introduce a new foreign manpower program starting next month by issuing visas for specific occupations, said Nayef Al-Omair, head of the vocational examination program at the Ministry of Labor and Social Development, in Riyadh on Tuesday.

Al-Omair noted that the ministry was categorizing the tasks and the structure of some professions for visa-issuing purposes. He also noted that the previous labor category system would be gradually be removed from the ministry’s system.

The new scheme will be optional for one year starting December 2019 after which it will become compulsory.

According to Al-Omair, the new program will be first applied to the manpower recruited from India due to it is a large size in the Saudi market.

However, it will cover seven countries, including India, the Philippines, Sri Lanka, Indonesia, Egypt, Bangladesh, and Pakistan, since workers belonging to these states constitute 95 percent of the professional manpower in the Kingdom’s local market.


Russian minister in Islamabad to offer investment in heavy industry

Updated 10 December 2019

Russian minister in Islamabad to offer investment in heavy industry

  • Russians are interested in Pakistan’s energy, oil and gas, defense and steel sectors
  • Russian delegation is in Islamabad to attend Inter-Governmental Commission meeting

ISLAMABAD: Pakistan and Russia have agreed to expand business and trade ties, with investment in the energy, oil and gas and defense, Special Assistant to the Prime Minister on Petroleum Nadeem Babar told Arab News in an exclusive interview on Tuesday.

A delegation of 64 Russian officials, led by Trade and Industries Minister Denis Manturov, discussed the plans with Pakistani stakeholders at a meeting of the Pakistan-Russia Joint Working Group (JWG) on Energy in Islamabad on Monday.

“The Russian delegation is here to expand ties with Pakistan and engage in trade and business worth billions of dollars. They are interested in three major sectors – energy, oil and gas, and defense,” Babar said.

“In its first phase, Pakistan is going to auction 12 blocks of E&P (exploration and production) this month. Russians are very much interested in this auction,” he added.

“They have representatives of oil and gas companies with them in this delegation, who discussed different projects and showed interest in bidding for these blocks. We are very hopeful that they will take a few blocks in this auction which would be a first as they have never operated in Pakistan before,” he said.

Russian companies are also interested to build a gas pipeline from Karachi to Lahore, Babar said. “We hope to sign an agreement on this in the next two months as both sides have agreed on many things. We have many meetings on this and after this visit, we hope all remaining issues will be solved.”

He said Pakistan and Russia have also discussed an agreement, which was signed earlier, for the laying of more than 1,500 kilometers of an offshore gas pipeline that would transport natural gas from Russia to Pakistan.

Babar said Russia has also shown interest in the rehabilitation and upgrading of Pakistan Steel Mills (PSM) and wants to invest $1 billion. He added, however, that “other countries are also interested in Steel Mills.”

Sergey Vasiliev, director of Russia-Pakistan Business Forum who is in the delegation, told Arab News the visit will be good for removing trade and investment obstacles between the two countries, and for improving business to business contacts.

As Pakistan’s image has lately improved in Russia, “Russian businessmen are more interested in the oil and gas and energy sectors,” he said.

“We are discussing collaboration with Pakistan Steel Mills, so new technology from Russia can enhance its production. We are also ready to provide support in the field of agriculture, especially in increasing storage capacity for local food items and fruits.”

A major breakthrough in Pakistan-Russia relations was the signing of an agreement in Moscow on Dec. 4 by Russia’s Deputy Finance Minister Sergey Storchak and Pakistani Ambassador Qazi Khalilullah, whereby Pakistan will repay its $93.5 million debt to Russia, he said.

On Wednesday, the delegation is scheduled to attend an inter-governmental commission meeting at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.