Saudi Arabia: Saudi Arabia Update - August 2015

Last Updated: 28 August 2015
Article by Amgad T. Husein and Anas A. Akel

Legal Developments

Expatriate Workers Restricted from Certain Job Categories

As part of Saudi Arabia's ongoing Saudization campaign, the Ministry of Labor (MoL) identified this month 19 jobs that are restricted to Saudi Arabian nationals only. Some of the restricted jobs are:

  • chief administrator of human resources;
  • head of personnel department;
  • director of labor affairs;
  • director of personnel relations;
  • employment clerk;
  • time-keeper;
  • receptionist (general, hotel or hospital);
  • cashier; and
  • typist

Work permits will not be issued for expatriates recruited to hold positions reserved for Saudi Arabian nationals and work permits of those expatriates who are currently working in such jobs will not be renewed.

Arab News – 16 August 2015

Saudi Arabia to Begin Implementation of ISIC4, Commercial Registration Database

The Ministry of Commerce and Industry (MoCI) has announced that it will implement the International Standard Industrial Classification of All Economic Activities (ISIC4) issued by the United Nations.

The first phase of implementation will focus on the Commercial Registration certificates (CR) of businesses operating in Saudi Arabia. This includes creation of a new database at www.cr.sa which helps applicants to choose a proper description of commercial activities for their CRs, as well as information on any additional regulatory approvals needed to engage in the proposed activities.

Ministry of Commerce and Industry (www.mci.gov.sa/en) – 27 July 2015

Ministry of Labor to Launch E-Visa Service

The Ministry of Labor (MoL) has launched an electronic service to issue visas for expatriate workers at www.musaned.gov.sa. The MoL aims to reduce inefficiencies by using technology more often. In this case, the MoL seeks to reduce the amount of paperwork needed to issue expatriate employment visas and to eliminate the need to visit government offices.

Arab News – 26 July 2015

Eighth Phase of Wage Protection System

As we have described in previous Saudi Arabia Updates under Saudi Arabia's Wage Protection System (WPS) implemented by the Ministry of Labor (MoL), private sector businesses in Saudi Arabia are required to electronically submit employee wage information to a database maintained by the MoL and, further, to deposit and pay employee salaries solely through in-Kingdom banks.

The WPS has been implemented in phases, beginning with the largest firms with 3,000 employees or more. On 1 April 2015, the WPS entered its sixth phase to cover all businesses in Saudi Arabia with 240 employees or more.

On 1 August 2015, the WPS entered its eighth stage and now its requirements apply to firms with 130 or more employees.

Failure to comply with the WPS may result in refusal of MoL services, excluding issuance and renewal of work permits.

Saudi Gazette – 28 July 2015

Ministry of Justice to Assume Supervision of Labor Courts

Currently under Saudi Arabian law, labor and employment-related disputes are subject to the jurisdiction of the Supreme Commission for the Settlement of Labor Disputes under the auspices of the Ministry of Labor.

Recently, representatives from the Ministry of Labor and the Ministry of Justice met to discuss strategies for transferring jurisdiction over labor and employment-related disputes to the Ministry of Justice. Discussions also focused on ways to transition the Supreme Commission for the Settlement of Labor Disputes into a proper tribunal system.

It is possible that transferring jurisdiction over labor and employment-related disputes from the Ministry of Labor to the Ministry of Justice will allow for a more objective and independent handling of such cases.

Arab News – 1 August 2015

Continued Development of Judiciary

As mentioned above and in previous Updates, the Saudi Arabian authorities have continued in a drive to develop and improve the judiciary system.

This month, the Ministry of Justice launched six initiatives to develop the judiciary in order to facilitate the services provided, shorten the litigation period between parties and provide for the speedy resolution of disputes. A number of projects in the fields of administrative management and development are included in the initiative, such as reviewing regulations, improving the performance of human resources in the judiciary and facilitating services provided.

Arab News – 9 August 2015

Finance and Capital Market Developments

Goldman Sachs to Enter the Tadawul

As we have reported in previous Saudi Arabia Updates, on 6 May 2015 the Capital Market Authority (CMA) issued the final rules for Qualified Foreign Investors (QFIs) to invest in listed shares on the Tadawul. The final rules came into effect on 15 June 2015.

Arab News reported news from Bloomberg.com that Goldman Sachs Group Inc. has applied to the CMA to become a licensed QFI, allowing it to buy and sell shares on the Tadawul.

Arab News – 22 July 2015

NCB issues SAR 2 Billion Sukuk

The National Commercial Bank (NCB) announced the issuance of sukuk amounting to SAR 2 billion via private placement recently.

Arab News – 4 August 2015

Al-Othaim Seeks to Raise SAR 1 Billion with Sukuk Issue

Al-Othaim Real Estate and Investment Co. (Al-Othaim), part of Al-Othaim Holding, will market a five-year debut sukuk issue to raise SAR 1 billion to fund its expansion plans in Saudi Arabia. Al-Othaim is currently building five malls, which are scheduled for completion by the end of 2016, as well as 16 entertainment centers in Saudi Arabia. The sukuk issue will be secured against Al-Othaim's existing mall in Al-Hofuf in the Eastern Province.

Arab News – 11 August 2015

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