According to recent estimates released by Jadwa Investment Company, about 1.2 million expat employees are expected to leave Saudi Arabia this year.
The report also showed that an estimated 300,000 expats have left the kingdom so far in 2020 based on health insurance data – a total of 178,000 applications were submitted to ‘Awdah’ between April 22 and June 3 alone, which aims to facilitate the departure of expat workers to their home countries, and subsequently filed through the Ministry of the Interior.
The sectors most struggling include transportation, wholesale and retail, hotels and restaurants, and non-oil manufacturing, as well as entertainment and leisure; while education, health, public administration, utilities, and agriculture also face “challenging conditions.”
Despite the potential exodus, however, it said that the Saudi unemployment rate is expected to remain unchanged by the end of the year at around 12 percent, largely as a result of the Saned scheme – an unemployment benefits program launched in 2014 that bears 60 percent of most Saudi workers ‘ salaries for three months.
The latest data from the General Social Insurance Organization (GOSI) shows more than 90,000 companies had 450,000 Saned beneficiaries by May. Around SR2.4 billion ($640 m) has been distributed so far, about 37 percent of the budget of the scheme.
The report said: “And we see more room for the Saned program, if necessary, to be extended for more than three months. For example, in the UK, a similar furlough scheme was extended for an additional four months, until October 2020, even as the economy is gradually opening up.