Understanding and Solving Recruitment Challenges in the Middle East

In the last few years, Flint saw an exponential growth of engagements in the Middle East. The region is known for its fast-paced economic and technological development, demanding a flexible approach from recruitment partners. With years of experience in the Middle East and an in-depth understanding of strict local policies, Flint is more than ready to help clients navigate the local recruiting market.

The Middle East economies have been historically dependent on expatriate workforces. Now various national policies are pushing for the adoption and increase in local workforces. Among the members of the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC), Saudi Arabia is the most advanced. However, the big challenge remains in attracting Saudi Nationals whilst meeting Saudisation requirements.

The Saudi nationalisation scheme, also known as the Saudisation, is part of the Saudi Vision 2030 reforms. These aim to reduce the number of unemployed Saudi nationals and bind organisations to meet certain percentages of employed local resources. Companies are graded on a Traffic Light System based on their Saudisation under the Nitaqat program. 

Changes in Policy

Today a third of the workforce in Saudi Arabia is made up of foreign nationals. In the next few months, several reforms will provide expatriate workers with additional rights, in line with the 2030 Transformation Program. The reforms will allow expatriate workers to transfer to a new employer upon the expiration of their contracts and the digitisation of contracts coming March 14th1. These changes will bring more flexibility to the local market.

For many organisations, the Saudi job market still holds multiple challenges. Firstly, attracting qualified local resources in a market where demand outstrips supply often results in inflated salary demands being put on would-be employers. Whilst not meeting Saudisation quoters, employers face being barred from bringing new expatriate workers and other penalties. 

To further support our clients, Flint is developing programs to educate, develop and train Saudi Nationals. Thus, helping our clients develop their technical workforces and finding the right resources faster while removing unnecessary obstacles in the hiring process. 

Challenges in Recruitment within Saudi Arabia

Would be hirers in Saudi Arabia face many challenges; the two biggest issues we often hear from our clients are:

Lack of Qualified Applicants

Saudi Arabia has set demands on companies regarding Saudisation; getting the right balance of ex-pat and locals is the first barrier. Saudi nationals are in demand, and the impact has been that salaries become inflated. The Saudi labour market can be described as being heavily dependent on foreign workers.  

With Saudi’s demand for qualified resources in the area of telecommunications and IT, the demand outstrips the supply. Other challenges can include that resources are often needed for the duration of a project, which does not provide the long-term security that many Saudis seek.    

Flint can provide innovative solutions, including permanent resources and the development of Saudis with our learning services. Other options include using foreign resources to provide longer-term development, training and mentoring. Flint sees the opportunity to provide strong learning opportunities and mentoring as a way to engage the resources with the brand. Too often, applicants are approaching Flint seeking a move with financials being the driver. 

Lengthy Time to Recruit

Hiring in Saudi can be a very lengthy process, especially when it comes to foreign workers. Hiring foreign resources already in Saudi is set to become easier and quicker with the Saudisation policies taking effect as, in the past, this has been heavily reliant on employers granting permission. 

A huge challenge we have seen with our clients has been the effectiveness of companies being able to bring in foreign workers; this process can often take up to and beyond six months. Flint excels in this area. Flint as the employer of record, can source and bring the candidates into Saudi Arabia quickly and compliantly.

As the employer, Flint takes away many headaches that clients face today, from reaching and recruiting the right technical resources to onboarding them and bringing them to Saudi Arabia. Whilst working, we then manage all HR requirements. We see this process through to offboarding and supporting the employees as they relocate back to their home countries.

Flint’s Commitments in the Middle East

Flint’s role in the Middle East is not just that of a provider of an individual. We are often the employer and therefore accountable to our workforce. Supporting our resources is an integral part of “the Flint Way” and ensures that we provide our clients with highly qualified and motivated professionals. Flint enjoys great loyalty amongst its contingent workers, who are often engaged on multiple projects and are able to move internationally. 

The exponential growth of our engagements in the Middle East has been achieved through partnerships and our committed approach to helping our clients acquire the right talent on a permanent or contingent basis. We support our clients with the following services:

  • Workforce Planning, by understanding the requirements – it’s about getting the resource at the right time.
  • Talent Mapping, through market intelligence – Flint can provide valuable insight into the market and Management Information.
  • Global Contractor Logistics, the movement of resources from all corners of the world, ensuring and owning compliancy.
  • Global Account Consultancy, with strategic engagement – Flint is agile and can quickly scale. 
  • Onsite Management, with insight into the local market – simplification, ownership and direct point of contact are just some of the benefits.

Tackling Local Challenges, Ensuring Global Compliance

Flint is dedicated to providing the same quality of experience and best practices throughout our international engagements. Our regional entities ensure that we can support local organisations as well as global companies entering the market in the best way possible.

Are you looking for a recruitment partner in the Middle East, or would like more information on how we support our clients to find the right resources?

For more information, articles and updates follow us on LinkedIn.



1 Ministry of Human Resources and Social Development (HRSD), Ministry of Human Resources and Social Development Launches Labor Reforms for Private Sector Workers, 4 November 2020, https://hrsd.gov.sa/en/node/770957

Let's Connect

Do you need a partner to successfully support you in overcoming your business challenges? Contact us today and let us support you on your road to success!