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Saudi Arabia Will Only Let Saudis Work at the Mall

Red Sea Mall in JeddahRed Sea Mall in Jeddah
A general view of the Red Sea Mall on April 07, 2016 in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia The Red Sea Mall is one of the fancier malls in Jeddah and is a meeting place for wealthier saudis. David Degner—Getty Images

(RIYADH) – Saudi Arabia’s labor minister issued an order on Thursday to restrict employment in shopping malls to Saudi nationals, who currently make up only one in five staff in the retail sector.

The kingdom has been steadily closing off different areas of employment to foreigners, who comprise about a third of the population, as it aims to create jobs for young Saudis and cut the unemployment rate among nationals.

A statement from the minister for labor and social development, posted on Twitter, defined malls as “closed commercial centers,” but did not elaborate on the number of jobs affected or a timeline for implementation.

According to the Vision 2030 economic reform plan released last year, the Saudi retail sector currently employs 1.5 million workers, of whom only 300,000 are Saudis. The plan calls for a million new jobs for Saudis in the sector by 2020. (Reporting by Katie Paul; Editing by Mark Trevelyan)