‘Saudization’, Lower Crude Oil Prices to Lower OFW Deployment in Middle East

A recruitment consultant predicts a continued decline in the deployment of overseas Filipino workers (OFWs) in the Middle East in 2019, following the full implementation of ‘Saudization’ as well as lower crude oil prices in the market.

Deployment bans are already affecting many areas. Though bans in places like Kuwait have been lifted, this did pose some problems in early 2018.

But it seems that 2019 would also be a bit problematic for OFWs who are setting their eyes on finding jobs in the Middle East.

First, the so-called ‘Saudization’ has already dramatically decreased the number of Filipinos and other expatriates working in Saudi Arabia. Then, crude oil prices remain low and expected to become lower. Thus, the demand for foreign workers is going down.

The economies of some Middle East countries especially Saudi Arabia is predicted to stay flat with lower crude oil prices and that is bad news for OFWs whose main market is Saudi Arabia,” explained Emmanuel Geslani, a labor recruitment and migration consultant.

He added that the ban in Kuwait last year had a major effect on OFWs. Prior to the ban, Kuwait had been averaging 60,000 new hires per year but the 5-month ban had greatly affected the deployment that only less than 20,000 domestic helpers were hired in 2018 for Kuwait.

There were also many OFWs retrenched from various companies in Saudi Arabia, mostly due to Saudization and other factors.

As crude oil prices lowered beginning in the middle of 2018, the economies of other Middle East countries such as the United Arab Emirates, Kuwait, Oman, Iraq, and Iran also went on decline. Geslani predicts that this would continue in the coming year. This means that less workers would be needed in these countries, leading to a further decline in the OFW deployment.

The Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) predicts a 30% decline in deployments for Saudi this year, due to Saudization, the Manila Bulletin reported.

But ACTS-OFW Rep. John Bertiz III downplays this ‘problem’, pointing out that though there’s a real decline in the demand for workers in the Middle East, other places are looking for Pinoys to fill their workforce.

While Saudi Arabia’s labor market is shrinking, the demand for Filipino workers in other parts of the globe – in Asia, North America and Europe – continues to expand,” Bertiz said.

Indeed, this is true. China has already announced that it would need 10,000 Pinoy teachers and skilled workers. Sometime in early 2019, the Philippines will also sign a labor pact with Russia for the employment of skilled and unskilled laborers.

So, things are still looking up for the country’s OFWs.

Image credit: Arab News