Saudi Arabia bans trading and selling to foreigners in the markets

A top municipal official overseeing the Jeddah central vegetable market has allegedly banned traders from selling fresh produce to expatriates, claiming that he was doing so to push for greater Saudization at the market.

According to a local media report Friday, Nasser Al-Jarallah, director of the department of slaughterhouses and public markets in Jeddah, told traders: “If you are waiting for foreigners to buy, then (you must understand that) we do not want them to buy.”

This resulted in a tense standoff between the traders and Al-Jarallah, with traders complaining that no law prevents them from selling goods to expatriates living legally in the country. It comes in the wake of several raids on the market with legal expatriate workers and customers being arrested, the report stated.

A source in the market’s operating company reportedly said that many expatriate workers had stayed home after the raids, resulting in a crisis at the market. It is claimed that the financial losses can amount to SR4 million a day.

Traders at the market have claimed that they have been complying with the Labor Ministry’s Saudization targets, but are not able to ensure 100 percent employment for citizens. They have called on the municipality to provide them with names of citizens willing to work at the market’s stalls.

Fahad Al-Ghamdi, a member of the Jeddah Chamber of Commerce and Industry’s fruit and vegetables committee, said that traders and companies at the market were complying with the law. He said all parties must abide by the country’s laws. He said the matter would be raised with the government.

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