Amid economic downturn in Saudi Arabia, a mass exodus of foreign workers – which has been encouraged by the kingdom to help employ its citizens – has backfired and added to its woes, The Washington Post reported.
More than 1.1 million foreigners have left the Saudi Arabia workforce from early 2017 to third quarter 2018, the Post reported, citing government statistics. The outflow has coincided with a fee placed on dependents of expatriate workers and the restriction against foreign workers in certain sectors, according to the Post.
Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman's plan to create employment for Saudi citizens in the private sector, has struggled and put pressure on the economy.
As foreign workers leave the private sector, Saudi Arabian citizens have not been able to fill those jobs, and unemployment has spiked to a high of 12.9 percent, the Post reported.
Adding to the struggle of attracting foreign economic investment, Saudi Arabia concluded an "anti-corruption" sweep recently," according to the report.
"The crackdown spooked international investors, and local investors 'complain of new hurdles to license and register businesses, and comply with new hiring policies' that require the hiring of Saudi citizens,'" according to American Enterprise Institute's Karen Young to the Post.
MBS's "clampdown" has coincided with a surge in the worldwide numbers of Saudi Arabian refugees, CNN reported.
"You have people fleeing political repression, and that's very easily tied to MBS and what he's done," Human Rights Watch Middle East researcher Adam Coogle told CNN. "And I think that the number [of refugees and asylum-seekers] you're seeing here is indicative of that."