Saudi Arabia’s kafala system no more, new system for reform

Kafala replaced in UAE

For 7 decades Saudi Arabia has been maintaining its kafala system. It’s a foreign worker sponsor system that stipulates contractual relationships allowed for migrant workers with only one employer.

These workers must be sponsored by an employer in Saudi Arabia. The worker must be issued an exit/re-entry visa when they want to leave the country. Now, the country is reforming this system and going to replace it with a new form of contract.

Saudi Arabia will chair the G20 this year. The country is seeking to give an impetus to the private sector. The aim is to make it more attractive to foreign skilled talent and will be necessary as the oil-based economy of the country will be diversified.

The kafala has been criticized for being capable of promoting worker exploitation. The new change of contractual agreements will improve the employment relations between employers and migrant workers. The new initiative will be implemented in the first half of 2021.

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