Contractors welcome foreign firms, demand equal treatment
Several Saudi contractors have said they are not against the Council of Ministers’ decision to allow foreign contractors to enter the Saudi market as long as they are given equal opportunities.
They said all local contractors are hoping for the same treatment foreign contractors will be given and that the Ministry of Labor should grant local contractors the necessary visas to allow them to recruit workers.
The contractors told Al-Hayat daily that they are still suffering from fake contracting companies, although the correction period has reduced their numbers significantly.
Local contractors are also asking that foreign contractors should be obliged to purchase building material, spare parts and all other materials they need from the local market and employ Saudis.
Nabil Abbas, a representative of the Federation Internationale Des Ingenieurs Conseils (FIDIC) in the Kingdom and the Gulf region, said the problem lies in middle sized foreign contractors entering the Saudi market.
“Middle sized projects are in the hundreds, while large projects are only between 10 and 20 a year, and local contractors have the choice to either develop and expand or simply exit the market,” Abbas said.
He added that construction material prices will not be affected regardless of whether the contractors are local or foreign, but Saudis should benefit from the foreign contractors who will not circumvent Saudization requirements.
“Foreign contractors factor in the cost of hiring Saudi workers before they enter the local market, which should positively affect Saudization goals,” he said.
Abbas further said local and foreign contractors should have equal opportunities in projects, but he believes local contractors have the upper hand because they are aware of the local market conditions and all rules and regulations.
“Foreign contractors will speed up the execution of projects and will help complete projects on time,” he added.