It appears that Saudi Arabia will remain a major destination for jobseekers, including Filipinos, for years to come in view of huge projects in the pipeline.
This crossed my mind as I received greetings of “Happy Easter !” on Sunday from former OFW (Overseas Filipino Workers) colleagues and friends.
A text message was sent to Rafael E. Seguis, former Ambassador to Saudi Arabia and Yemen, who sent quick replies to questions needing answers in a hurry. His brief reply: “I think so…”
Earlier, Robert G. Fernandez, quality control manager at Al Babtain Contracting of the Al Babtain Group in Riyadh who was on vacation in the Philippines recently after being away since 2015, said that big projects were coming up in the Saudi capital.
“It can be expected that there will be more jobs available in the Kingdom,” he said during a meeting-reunion organized by Jun L. Nacion.
Nacion is a retired Riyadh-based OFW who was a Knights of Rizal Central Region Chapter (KOR CRC) commander and area commander for Saudi Arabia.
Noel F. Santos, also KOR CRC member, and Mike Pera, a member of the Guardian group, were also present on the occasion.
Resty S. de Jesus, who is with the Riyadh-based Saudi Industrial Trading Comp. (SATCO), said, “implementation of the projects appears to be on schedule and being anticipated by expat (expatriate) workers, including OFWs.”
De Jesus is also past KOR CRC chapter commander (2018-2021) and a member of the Council of Advisers and Prefectural Tribunal in Riyadh.
One of the projects is The Mukaab announced recently by Saudi Arabia’s Public Investment Fund.
It promises to be a bold new project, creating the world’s largest modern downtown that can hold 20 Empire State buildings.
The project is a 400-meter-tall, 400-meter-wide cube city that will form the centerpiece of a new downtown area in Riyadh.
It will be built on an area of 29 square kilometers at the intersection of King Salman and King Khaled Roads to the northwest of Riyadh.
Other projects include the Diriyah Gate project of 1.5 sq. km., and Al Qiddiya project, 334 sq. km., among others.
For sure, the Kingdom will recruit foreign nationals for the projects but what works in favor of OFWs, whose current number in the Kingdom is estimated at 700,000, is the fact that they are held in high regard by Saudi employers.
Khaled Almaeena— well-known Saudi journalist and editor, blogger, businessman and entrepreneur— was often heard saying Filipinos were not only well-educated but also spoke English well.
He was the former editor-in-chief of Arab News, Saudi Gazette and the Arabic daily Al Bilad.
The late Talaat F. Wafa, former editor-in-chief of Riyadh Daily, also respected OFWs.
Almaeena and Wafa were often heard calling their Filipino staff “Kabayan!”