Manama: Saudi Arabia is planning to replace expatriates with Saudi nationals in 12 occupations within the next five months.

The first phase of the latest Saudisation drive will cover salespersons in car and motorcycle shops, clothing stores, children’s clothing, men’s accessories, home and office furniture stores, and household utensils.

It will be implemented starting September 11, the Saudi Press Agency (SPA) reported on Wednesday.

The second phase, to be included two months later, will include watch shops, eyeglass shops, electrical appliances and electronic shops, and the third phase, in mid-January, will target salespeople in medical equipment stores, construction materials shops, auto spare parts shops, carpet shops of all kinds, and confectionery shops.

The Ministry of Labour and Social Development said that it was aiming at empowering male and female citizens economically through employment opportunities and at boosting their participation in the private sector.

The Saudisation of the 12 jobs was announced in January when Minister of Labour and Social Development Ali Al Ghafees issued a decree to limit work in them to Saudi men and women with the start of the New Hijri Year.

A committee was formed to develop a programme for nationalising jobs in the 12 occupations and coordinating with relevant authorities. The committee members were drawn from the Ministry of Labour and Social Development, the Human Resources Development Fund (HADAF), and the Social Development Bank.

Saudi Arabia has been inexorably moving ahead with a massive reform of its labour market, reducing reliance on foreigners who make up 30 per cent of the total population and boosting the opportunities of Saudi citizens, particularly women, to find jobs.