Earlier in February the Saudi Labour ministry had decided to implement a new policy which will ensure jobs for 2,20,000 natives. The move aims to provide more employment opportunities for its citizens and to narrow the wage gap between nationals and migrants. The Saudi retail sector currently employs 1.5 million workers, of whom only 300,000 are Saudis, said a report in The Khaleej Times.

This new decision to limit the jobs in shopping malls only Saudi nationals seems to be in line with the February order. The kingdom has been steadily closing off different areas of employment to foreigners. A statement from the minister for labour and social development, posted on Twitter, defined malls as "closed commercial centres", but did not mention a timeline for implementation.

The move has been long in the pipeline. Previously we had reported how in 2017, dependants of expats will each incur a monthly fee of SR100, from July onwards, in 2018 the amount will be increased to SR200 and by 2020 it will be at SR400 per month. So moving to Saudi Arabia will be at a cost now.

 Saudi Finance Minister Mohammed Al-Jadaan had even mentioned that these fees do not apply to domestic helpers, such as drivers and cleaners, but only to expats working in commercial entities. Saudi officials are in the process of implementing Saudisation in the country had announced that all mobile sales and maintenance shops have to replace 50 per cent of expat workers with Saudi men and women within three months starting from June 6 and 100 per cent within six months starting from September 3.

This news may cause some anxiety to those in India, especially in Kerala, Tamil Nadu, Karnataka and Hyderabad. Saudi Arabia receives a lot of workers as migrants from these southern states and now news of the country letting Indians and foreigners off from their jobs does pose a serious question on job security and future in the Gulf.