Saudi ties may yield 200k jobs

Saudi ties may yield 200k jobs

Don sees boon for labour export market

People emerge from the arrival hall at Suvarnabhumi airport, Samut Prakan province, after disembarking from a Saudi Arabian Airlines flight, SV846, from Jeddah via Riyadh on Feb 28, 2022. It was the first direct commercial flight from Saudi Arabia in 32 years, following the recent normalisation of diplomatic ties. (Photo: Varuth Hirunyatheb)
People emerge from the arrival hall at Suvarnabhumi airport, Samut Prakan province, after disembarking from a Saudi Arabian Airlines flight, SV846, from Jeddah via Riyadh on Feb 28, 2022. It was the first direct commercial flight from Saudi Arabia in 32 years, following the recent normalisation of diplomatic ties. (Photo: Varuth Hirunyatheb)

Deputy Prime Minister and Foreign Minister Don Pramudwinai said Saudi Arabia is expected to provide about 200,000 vacancies for Thai workers as the two countries take another step closer after restoring bilateral ties.

Mr Don is leading a delegation of state officials and business operators on a formal visit to Saudi Arabia that ends on Wednesday.

It is the first time in 32 years that Thai dignitaries have set foot in the country for formal talks.

The visit is part of efforts to rebuild investment opportunities and forge joint ventures after the restoration of full diplomatic ties between the two countries was announced in the wake of Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha's visit to Riyadh.

Gen Prayut met with His Royal Highness Crown Prince Mohammad bin Salman bin Abdulaziz there on Jan 25.

Speaking after meeting Saudi Arabia's Foreign Minister Prince Faisal bin Farhan Al Saud, Mr Don said the two countries had finalised the draft of action plans promoting bilateral ties.

They also finalised the draft of a memorandum of understanding to set up a Thai-Saudi cooperation council jointly chaired by their respective foreign ministers.

In addition, they agreed in principle to waive visas for holders of diplomatic and official passports, Mr Don said, adding Saudi Arabia will consider helping 800 Thais who have overstayed their visas in the Arab country.

Mr Don said Thai labour is needed there as the kingdom is investing heavily in several construction projects. He said there are at least 500,000 vacancies for construction workers and workers in the service industry.

"About 200,000 of those vacancies are expected to be set aside for Thai workers, although it depends on whether Thailand can supply enough labour to respond to the needs of Saudi Arabia," he said.

He added that Prince Faisal said he would visit Thailand next month to discuss arrangements for the Crown Prince of Saudi Arabia's visit. A source said he is expected in the latter half of this year.

Mr Don said a Thai ambassador to Saudi Arabia is likely to be appointed in the third quarter.

Previously, the labour ministers of both countries signed an MoU on exporting Thai labour that included provisions for safe working conditions in the Gulf state.

Thai Labour Minister Suchart Chomklin met with Human Resources and Social Development (HRSD) Minister Ahmad Sulaiman Al Rajhi on March 28 to attend the signing ceremony in the capital.

Thailand is also seeking assistance that the rights of both employers and employees will be respected, while enforcing regulations to ensure fair payments, welfare and privileges as well as cooperation on human trafficking issues.

Thai workers will initially be sent there via state-to-state cooperation to minimise broker costs. The Ministry of Labour will assist in training individuals interested in working in the country, while the HRSD will be responsible for regulating workers' qualifications, pay, privileges and other requirements that will be needed.

Saudi Arabia said it will roll out measures to help maintain the quality of life and welfare of foreign migrant workers, including an electronic-contract programme for rights protection and a labour mobility initiative to assist workers in the hospitality, health and industrial sectors.

There are 1,334 Thai employees in the country, mostly working in factories and restaurants or as domestic workers.


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