World Bulletin / News Desk
Saudi Arabia, grappling with chronic youth unemployment, has created 380,000 new jobs in 10 months by requiring private firms to employ Saudis, Labour Minister Adel al-Fakeih said, the Saudi Gazette reported on Monday.
"This figure is 20 times what had been previously achieved over the past five years before Nitaqat (the main jobs programme) was introduced," the English-language daily quoted him as saying.
In January, Fakeih said the Middle East's largest economy needed to create 3 million jobs for Saudi nationals by 2015 and 6 million by 2030, partly through "Saudi-ising" work now done by foreigners.
Youth unemployment was seen as one of the main drivers of last year's unrest which shook much of the Arab world, but bypassed Saudi Arabia, where King Abdullah announced a $110 billion package of benefits to defuse any potential discontent.
Nitaqat is a quota system imposing minimum numbers of Saudi employees on companies depending on their size and sector.
It is part of wider reforms aimed at getting more Saudis into private-sector jobs in a country where nine in 10 private company employees are expatriates, while 90 percent of Saudi workers are employed by the state.
Some employers have criticised Nitaqat, saying it could raise their costs or disrupt their operations, and that qualified Saudi workers are not always readily available.
Fakeih's comments suggested the government remained committed to the scheme.
Officially the kingdom's unemployment rate is 10.5 percent, but that figure does not include the large numbers of working-age Saudis not counted as part of the labour force.
According to recent government figures, the labour force participation rate, meaning people who are in jobs or who say they are looking for work, is 36.4 percent, about half the global average, economists have said.
The world's top oil exporter announced last year it was introducing an unemployment benefit of 2,000 rials ($535) a month, payable for up to a year, for applicants who showed they were looking for jobs or undergoing training. In March the government said over 1 million people were receiving it.
Fakeih was quoted on Monday as saying that people who failed to hold down successive jobs or did not pass the training would instead receive a monthly incapacity benefit.
"Youths who fail the training and employment programme will be transferred to the category of unable to work, and will qualify for the 800 rial incapacity benefit," the paper quoted him as saying. In Saudi Arabia, incapacity benefit is for life.
Qatar has renounced deporting Muslim Brothers leaders, Egyptian media reported.
Ismail Radwan said that the new round of indirect negotiations will start on Monday in Cairo as scheduled
A Kurdish intelligence officer in Zumar said peshmerga forces had advanced from five directions in the early morning after coalition air strikes on ISIL positions
Soldiers exchanged heavy fire with the militants, whose exact affiliation was unclear, and had surrounded them by midday, security sources said
60 % of French prisoners are Muslims “originally or culturally” according to French deputy Guillaume Larrive
Colorectal cancer is the leading cancer in males followed by leukemia and prostate cancer, according to the registry.
"Egypt is fighting an existential war," al-Sisi said, going on to say that his country will take "measures" along border with the Gaza Strip following the attack
Human Rights Watch calls for prosecution of military involved in killing 85 Muslims in southern Thailand
Kurdish media claimed the first units tomorrow to across Turkey's border, but news on when the peshmerga will start their passage is denied
Hamas said that two members had been detained in Bethlehem and two others in Hebron late Friday.
Jabbari had been sentenced to death in accordance "qisas" (eye for an eye) law after being found guilty of stabbing dead an older man with a kitchen knife seven years ago.
Red flags bearing the logo of Italy's largest union, the CGIL, waved over town squares as thousands of people rallied behind the group's call for job creation and job security
The Kasserine electoral district will be represented by eight seats in Tunisia's incoming 217-member National Assembly.
Police said on Twitter that the four youths had been detained for attacking soldiers with fire crackers and causing disturbances.
Merkel's remarks come after EU leaders summit in Brussels to discuss future of 28-nation bloc
The bombing struck outside a hotel in central Mogadishu, gunfire was also heard at the scene of the attack