Globalization And Expatriate Workforce In Saudi Arabian Context Essays Example
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In these changing times, Saudi Arabia has to keep up with what is happening around the world when it comes to embracing advances in technology and in science and ensure its global presence. While there are many schools of thought about this matter, it is one that needs to be addressed to eradicate misunderstanding and push forward in an effective manner. With a population of more than 26 million people, Saudi Arabia is home to about 9 million expatriates working in the Arab regions. As a result, it has become a melting pot of migrants from various cultures and beliefs hoping to find employment to support their families in their own countries. To keep up with the changes around the world, there are various forms of mass media and technologies that can be used to reach out to a large audience. This includes broadcast media such as film, radio, and television, which aids in transmitting electronic information. There is also print media which aids in the distribution of information through newspapers, magazines, and books, among others. Digital media is composed of the Internet and mobile communication methods, which are considered one of the fastest ways to transmit information anywhere. All these media types help human resources in reaching out to more people from all over, which helps in making Saudi Arabia more accessible to globalization and the possibility of working with more expatriate workforce.
Because of the huge number of expatriate workforce, Saudi Arabia has began a project called “Saudization”, which is basically ensuring that job opportunities are offered to Arab nationals prior to foreign nationals. This is the country’s response to the growing number of expatriates working in Saudi Arabia now. Due to rapid economic growth, Saudi Arabia has increasingly depended on foreigners to fill in the demand for skills that the country lacks, including the Saudi airline industry. This gives way to the globalization of Saudi Arabia in order to keep pace with modern times. However, what unsettles the conservatives is that with technological, social, economic, and political interference of foreign culture, the Arab culture might slowly deteriorate, which causes fear to people who strongly uphold their Muslim faith and traditions, giving way to cross-cultural issues due to the influx of foreign nationals.
Globalization in Saudi Arabian Airlines
Globalization on the Arab world culture is not just a simple issue of statistics and reports. It entails analysis of various factors that govern globalization in the context of the Arab world. Globalization is the “social, economic, and political adjustments that people may embrace to epitomize their culture and incorporate it with the world” (Moussalli, 2012). Its impact affects the economic, social, and political atmosphere of a country. With the help of various forms of media, globalization is within reach of the Arab countries. It is not limited by the information it gets from television and newspapers, but with the aid of social media, communication is easier, faster, and right at the fingertips of anyone. Communication between employer and employee is faster (Wolf, Sims, & Yang, 2014, p. 5). Most often, Human Resources also use media for recruitment, teambuilding, training, and communication purposes. Likewise, media is a good way for the department to promote company events, do corporate branding, and perform background checks on individuals (Bennett, 2013).
As a whole, globalization is all about integration of the world and the elimination of all forms of cultural barriers. Depending on how one sees globalization, the effects may be positive or negative. In the case of the Arabic culture, globalization is negatively perceived. For instance, Western influences are highly considered as a way to debase the Arabic culture considering the conservative nature of the Arabs, including their customs and traditions. Supporters of globalization recognize that with the advent of technological information and gadgets, including the internet, social media and what are seen on television and print media, the Arab culture can soon adjust to the advances in technology and in science and thus, will be able to delineate between Western influences and their historical and religious origins. Additionally, when this happens, a good number of cultural distinctions will be eliminated, which would pave the way for the unification of different populations and societies (Moussalli, 2012).
For instance, Saudi Airlines maintain multi-cultural employees in their workforce. The airlines recruit female flight attendants from countries such as Egypt, Sudan, Albania, Turkey, India, Philippines, Malaysia, and Indonesia, among others (Payne, 2015). Human Resources are able to reach out to these nationalities through their media presence in these countries, which adds to possibilities of these foreign nationals applying for jobs in the Arab countries. Ironically, most Saudi airlines do not employ flight attendants from Saudi Arabia or any of the Gulf countries because of their firm belief that women should not travel outside of the country without a male companion or the approval of a male companion (Nasair Keen to Hire Saudi Female Cabin Crew, 2013). Considering the situation, it is impossible for Saudi women to find work as international flight attendants because of religious and societal restrictions. Saudi society is a closed one and would fight any new initiatives that the people think challenges their beliefs, traditions, and culture. But this thinking is what limits globalization from truly becoming a reality for all Saudi airlines in general because instead of providing opportunities for Saudi women and allowing them to choose their own career paths, opportunities are given instead to other nationals. Nasair CEO Sulaiman Al-Hamdan claims that he is open to the idea of hiring Saudi women as cabin crew members “if there was a clear decree by the Saudi authorities [because] Nasair operates according to the rules and regulations in force in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, respects traditions and privacy of the society and will always remain keen to be bound by them” (Nasair Keen to Hire, 2013). In order to address these issues on Saudi airlines and its female flight attendants, moves are now being considered which involves hiring Saudi women as ground stewardesses instead of in-flight stewardesses, which will still be foreign nationals’ turf (Payne, 2015).
The minimum requirements for applicants are a high school diploma, fluency in the English language in terms of reading, writing, and speaking the language, and minimum and maximum age of 19 and 35, respectively (Poole, 2012). Flight attendants of Saudi Airlines can boast of job security because they fall under the government’s employ and the Ministry of Aviation and Defense. Thus, no matter what happens to the company, employees still receive their salaries and benefits regardless if the company files for bankruptcy.
Expatriate Workforce in Saudi Arabia
The number of foreigners working in Saudi Arabia makes up about 86 percent of the workforce in the country. These are called expatriates or individuals “who stay for one year or more in a country in which [they were] not born” (85 Percent Expatriates are from 8 Countries, 2014). With increasing reliance on foreign workers, expatriate workforce is inevitable. Despite efforts to curb the number of foreign workers, the fact still remains that the employment scene is largely dominated by foreign nationals (Janardhan, 2006) even in the airline industry. Based on an American research website’s study, eight nationalities comprise this total number of expatriates in Saudi Arabia. Of the total percentage, Indians, Pakistanis, and Bangladeshis comprised the biggest number of foreign nationals in Arab countries, while Egyptians and Yemenis covered the highest number among the Arab workforce.
Figure 1. Estimated percentage of expatriates in Saudi Arabia in 2013
Because most skills provided by expatriates cannot be had in the country, then it is only right for Saudi Arabia to explore options on how to maximize the expatriate workforce (Fadel, 2014) instead of pushing them out of the country. This is especially true in the airline industry because Arab women have limits when it comes to work, dissuading them to pursue a career of their own. Since most flight attendants are from other countries, such as Morocco, Philippines, Sudan, Turkey, Malaysia, Indonesia, and India (Poole, 2013), among others, these expats also affect the country’s culture when it comes to beliefs, fashion, and work ethics, among others, of women. They may also be influenced by what they see on various forms of media.
Culture is very crucial in the implementation of technology because it is sometimes considered as an impediment in improvement in terms of globalization and expatriate workforce. A country such as Saudi Arabia, with its tight cultural beliefs and traditions, will always have reservations about the benefits of globalization especially when it would have an impact on the country’s belief system. With the continued influx of foreigners to work as expatriates such as in the Saudi airline industry, then, the Arab culture will always have risks. The improvements and advancements in technology bring about opportunities for people, Arabs included, to access information easily such that learning about job openings in Saudi Arabia is easy. Additionally, despite its efforts to contain and push for Saudization, it would probably take years before the country is able to implement this 80-100 percent because locals or nationals do not have the necessary skills to carry on the jobs.
85 percent expatriates are from 8 countries. (2014). Retrieved from http://www.saudigazette.com.sa/index.cfm?method=home.regcon&contentid=20140910217634
Bennett, S. (2013). How does HR use social media. Retrieved from http://www.adweek.com/socialtimes/hr-social-media/492469
Janardhan, N. (2006). Expatriates face a changing reality in Gulf countries. Retrieved from http://yaleglobal.yale.edu/content/expatriates-face-changing-reality-gulf-countries
Nasair keen to hire Saudi female cabin crew. (2013). Retrieved from http://www.arabnews.com/nasair-keen-hire-saudi-female-cabin-crew
Moussalli, M. S. (2012). Impact of globalization. Retrieved from https://middleeasttribune.wordpress.com/impact-of-globalization/
Payne, E. (2015). Saudi Arabia’s national airline to introduce gender segregation after a string of complaints from male passengers. Retrieved from http://www.dailymail.co.uk/travel/travel_news/article-2894229/Saudi-Arabia-s-national-airline-introduce-gender-segregation-string-complaints-male-passengers.html
Poole, H. (2012). Galley gossip: Interview with a Saudi Airline flight attendant. Retrieved from http://gadling.com/2012/11/05/galley-gossip-interview-with-a-saudi-airline-flight-attendant/
Sadaqa, F. (2014). We need a Ministry of Expatriate Workers. Retrieved from http://www.saudigazette.com.sa/index.cfm?method=home.regcon&contentid=20140913217982
Wolf, M., Sims, J., & Yang, H. (2014). The role of social media in Human Resource Management. Retrieved from http://aisel.aisnet.org/cgi/viewcontent.cgi?article=1029&context=ukais2014
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