The universitity is a place for ideas to meet,” Dalal Alharbi says. Image Credit: Source: Rotana Khalijia TV

Cairo: A prominent Saudi academic has said she opposes restricting teaching in the kingdom’s universities to Saudis only.

“I’m against Saudisation because all prestigious universities in the world include multiple nationalities. The universitity is a place for ideas to meet,” Dalal Alharbi, a professor of modern history and a member of the Saudi Shura (advisory) Council, said.

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She added that efficiency should be the sole criterion for contracting teachers in universities regardless of the nationality.

“Equality even in ideas is not required in the universities. We should be different,” Alharbi told Saudi-owned TV Rotana Khalijia.

She explained that limiting teaching in universities to Saudis makes lecturers belong to the one and the same environment.

“Exchange of ideas opens the doors wide for the student. The Saudisation of universities is a very big mistake,” she said, expecting that her opinion will draw criticism.

In recent years, Saudi Arabia has launched a series of initiatives to employ its nationals and replace foreign workers in several fields including education, telecommunications and real estate as part of a labour policy known as “Saudisation”.

In September, the kingdom unveiled a plan to localise the dental profession, initially setting it at 35 per cent as of next March.

The Ministry of Health said it will follow up the implementation of the decision geared towards increasing Saudis’ engagement in the labour market.

Compliant private sector institutions stand to benefit from incentives and support programmes offered by the Ministry of Human Resources to help employ Saudis.

These incentives include support to the process of looking for qualified employees, training and employment continuity as well as having access to Saudi employment programmes.

In mid-2022, ministerial decrees were announced restricting jobs in certain sectors to Saudis only. They covered, optics jobs, customer services, licensed aviation professions including co-pilots and air controllers, sales outlets and periodic checks of cars.

In December, another decree localising employment for postal services and parcel transport across the country went into effect. Saudi Arabia is also implementing a regional employment programme for its nationals.