Technology Recruitment Services, Saudization and DEI - AIQU


January 19, 2023

Technology Recruitment Services, Saudization and DEI

Technology Recruitment Services, Saudization and DEI


How Saudization & Vision 2030 Impact Your Diversity, Equity & Inclusion Plans for Your Tech Workforce

Vibrant society, thriving economy and an ambitious nation — this is how the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia government envisions life in the country by 2030, as encapsulated in the long-term development and strategic plan known as Vision 2030.

Vision 2030 has many moving parts, but a key driver is the Ministry of Labour and Social Development’s (MLSD) Nitaqat or Saudi Nationalisation Scheme, commonly known as Saudization.

As a technology recruitment services provider, we know Saudization has significant and far-reaching implications for private enterprises in Saudi Arabia. This is especially true for tech companies or those with a large technology arm or department.

Here we focus on the impact of Saudization on diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI).


What Is Diversity, Equity and Inclusion?

Diversity, equity and inclusion in the workplace pertain to adopting policies and processes that encourage and operationalise the creation and maintenance of a diverse workforce.

Diversity encourages differences in the workplace, thus, fostering representation for various types of people, especially those who have been traditionally marginalised or underrepresented. The differences can be across various distinct or intersected characteristics, like gender, race, ethnicity, nationality, socioeconomic status, disabilities and more.

Equity is a logical extension of the principle of diversity. It is not enough to have a mix of diverse people. There must also be fairness and impartiality in how different people are treated and supported and how company resources are distributed among them.

Inclusion is another natural corollary of diversity. People from diverse backgrounds, especially those from underrepresented populations, must feel welcome and invited. In particular, they must feel seen, heard and included, especially in decision-making and development opportunities.

DEI starts with a diversity, equity and inclusion statement, but it must thoroughly pervade an organisation’s culture and hierarchy to make a difference.



Saudization is a policy that sets Saudi national employment quotas for private enterprises in Saudi Arabia. Its goal is to increase the participation of Saudi nationals in the private sector to cut unemployment to 7% and increase women’s participation to 30% by 2030.


Saudi National Employment Thresholds

Under Saudization, jobs at private companies must be open to Saudi nationals. At the minimum, every company must have at least one Saudi employee; this can be the owner. Beyond that, private enterprises must comply with minimum Saudi national employment quotas, which depend on their tier or level:

  • Platinum
  • Green (High-Green, Medium-Green, Low-Green)
  • Yellow
  • Red

Each colour represents a tier of privileges and quotas, with the platinum tier having the greatest number of benefits, and red, having the least. Advantages include expedited visa applications, lower processing fees, ease of work and residence permit renewals for foreign expatriate employees, and other administrative perks.

The higher tiers, however, also have higher Saudi national employment thresholds. For instance, a small information technology company (with 10-49 employees) must meet a 56% Saudi national employment threshold. That’s a minimum of six employees for a 10-person firm and 28 for a company with 49 employees.

As the above examples illustrate and imply, Saudi national employment thresholds vary according to company size and industry. For instance, a small agricultural industry company need only meet a 2-4% employment threshold to be in the yellow category as opposed to a small laboratory’s 10-14%.

In addition, there are particular job categories that KSA has made exclusively available only to Saudi nationals. These include secretarial, storekeeping, translation, and data entry jobs.


The Feminization of Select Jobs

Saudization also aims to increase women’s workforce participation. To this end, certain jobs, such as selling in stores and shops, have been restricted only to Saudi women.

To improve access to employment, moreover, the KSA has lifted the ban on women drivers. Saudi Arabia’s labour laws also provide for a comfortable and inclusive work environment for women in the workplace:

  • Employers must provide women with their own space separate from men.
  • Women employees are entitled to a paid 10-week maternity leave.
  • Women employees may take up to 24 months off to nurse their babies.
  • Mothers may take leaves to attend to sick or special-needs babies.
  • Employers may not dismiss women employees while they are on maternity leave or absent due to sickness arising from childbirth.
  • Women employees may take a paid leave of absence when their husband passes away. This is a minimum of four months for a Muslim female worker and 15 days for a non-Muslim.


Impact of Saudization on Diversity, Equity and Inclusion of Tech Companies

Saudization can positively impact the diversity, equity and inclusiveness of the workforce in Saudi Arabia.

The Saudi national thresholds compel private companies in KSA to hire Saudi nationals. Thus, it enforces the representation of Saudi nationals (and, by extension, Arabic-speaking Muslims) in workplaces. This leads to enhanced diversity and inclusivity.

Saudization has an even more significant impact on gender diversity. It has already affected women’s workforce participation rates. According to the KSA Vision 2030 website, the Saudi female labour participation rate was already at 35.6% by 2021, much higher than the 19.4% participation rate in 2016.

The paid maternity leave benefits and women’s protection from unfair dismissal also particularly encourage inclusion. They ensure women will not only be able to enter the workforce but also remain there. The provision that women will have a space dedicated to them will ensure women can comfortably work with male colleagues.


DEI-Enhancing Tech Recruitment Strategy in the Face of Saudization

Outsourcing your recruitment needs to an IT staffing solutions provider is a good way of ensuring compliance with Saudization employment thresholds. A tech staffing company, particularly one specialising in the KSA market, like AIQU, have a ready pool of Saudis to contact and screen for your open roles.

Working with a tech staffing firm can also further ensure the fulfilment of your commitment to diversity, equity and inclusion. Your tech recruitment partner can help you create a globally distributed remote team. Aside from bolstering your capacity, this will expose your employees to different voices and values while ensuring you don’t violate Saudization thresholds.

You can also further enhance diversity in your workplace through contract-to-hire arrangements. Contract-to-hire employees will work for you and on your projects, but your IT recruitment partner will be in charge of their payroll as well as obtaining their visas and work authorisations. This ensures you and your personnel can enjoy an even more diverse pool of employees without skewing your foreign-to-local employee ratios.

AIQU can help you find Saudis to fill your nationalisation employment quotas and put together remote teams as needed. Contact us for your tech staffing needs.

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