Saudi Begins Push to Replace Foreign Cabbies With Homegrown Drivers

The Saudi government is considering a plan to hire about 28,000 Saudi workers to man the extensive limousine service within the country in order to replace a similar number of foreign workers who at the moment inhabit most of this job sector.

The plan stipulates that a Saudi driver will receive a salary of about SR 5,000 per month. Financial support for the plan will be forthcoming from the Human Resources Development Fund, and should be ready for implementation within the next three months.

There are a total of 43,000 limousines operating in the Kingdom, owned by 1,375 companies. Among that number only 15,000 are Saudi citizens, while the remaining 28,000 are not. The plan aims to encourage young Saudi men to become taxicab drivers, eventually replacing the foreigners.

The push to Saudize the limousine sector was first addressed in 2002 when the Council of Ministers were looking for a way to create more job opportunities for many thousands of Saudi job seekers. The original plan allowed for a two year grace period before the cabs needed to comply, but several difficulties arose making it impossible to totally implement the decision.

One year later, in 2005, the ministry announced that there simply were not enough Saudi drivers to replace the foreign drivers so that the complete nationalization of the sector would need to be delayed to an unknown future date. Then Labor Minister Ghazi Al-Gosaibi said that the plan would need to be implemented in stages in the future.