Jazan to Riyadh: Is relocation key to economic prosperity?

Mufrin Yahya

Mufrih Yahya is from Jazan but for two years, he worked nearly 700 km away in the Southern Province of Sharura in Najran before moving to the capital Riyadh recently. Yahya’s story of relocating to another town is one that is shared by scores of young Saudis, who are abandoning their rural hometowns and moving to the Kingdom’s major cities in search of better employment opportunities and lifestyle changes, Al-Riyadh daily reported.

“When I got my first job in Najran, I would drive over 700 km every two weeks to see my family. This went on for about two years but I found it really hard to live and work in an area that lacked many of the basic resources I am used to having. Moving to a big city like Riyadh changed all of that and I not only enjoy my time here but was also able to complete my higher education,” he said.

“If I would have stayed in Najran, I would have wasted my time missing my family and lamenting the things I didn’t have,” he added.

While many young Saudi men complain about the lack of job opportunities in their cities, part of the problem is that few dare to apply for jobs outside of their regions. Yahya said it is important for people to step outside their comfort zones and experience something new and different.

“In Riyadh, I joined the media industry and finally found the path to success. My advice to everyone is to follow wherever life takes them because they may find success in places they never expected.”

According to Mohammad Al-Malki, young men who are just beginning their careers are often reluctant to leave the stability of living in their hometown for a new region because they are not yet able to provide for themselves financially. Some still depend on their parents and are not confident they can survive living on their own.

“Venturing out is actually a positive thing that enables people to discover new capabilities and talents about themselves, adding to their personal development. It also forces one to truly grow and learn from their mistakes,” he said.

Echoing the same view was Saud Al-Qarni who spent two fruitless years searching for a job in his home town before he finally realized he had to widen his scope to have a fair chance at landing a job. Al-Qarni now believes life is all about taking advantage of opportunities that present themselves.

“Youth should be ready for all opportunities and circumstances whether they are in their home town or somewhere else. One must face life with an open spirit. Most military, education and private sector jobs usually require the employee to move around but one can always follow the path of entrepreneurship and pick the city they want to be in,” he said.

Consultant Saleh Al-Dowsari said getting accustomed to a new job requires patience and time and the same is true for moving to a new city. But if people can get over the initial hardships, moving to a big city will open all kinds of opportunities.

“The reasons why many young people will not seek a job far from their home town are many — they do not want to leave their family or they are afraid of adjusting to a new lifestyle and failure in general. Big opportunities often come to daring people who are more focused on achieving financial stability so they can start their own families in the near future,” he said.

Economist Waleed Al-Nahid said in order to encourage youth to move, jobs that require people to leave their hometowns should offer incentives in the form of monetary compensation. He also said regional governments should do more to retain their youth.

“The youth should knock on every door and choose their jobs wisely. Success and prosperity does not only lie in governmental jobs. The economic sector is in need of people. Moreover, industrial cities, where most of the jobs are, should be planned and dispersed more widely in terms of geographical location. That way, more people will have better access to jobs wanted by the people and needed by the country.

“The population should be dispersed more equally rather than having a cluster of people in a few marked cities while other areas of the Kingdom are ignored.”

 
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