Jeddah - Saudi Arabia has imposed new quotas on companies in the kingdom to employ local staff, with cuts in permits for foreign workers if they fail to comply.
The labour ministry on Saturday launched the latest stage of its "Nitaqat" (Ranges) programme aimed at prodding local firms to employ Saudis as the oil-rich kingdom battles unemployment among its largely young population.
From September 10, the new programme will determine whether companies - according to their sector of activity and size - are entitled to employ foreign workers depending on their performance in abiding by the quotas.
Banks with a workforce of up to 500, for example, would need a Saudi workforce of at least 49%.
Those in the wholesale trade with the same number of staff have to employ a minimum of 19% of Saudis, with the same quota applied to media, insurance and government schools.
Officials put the unemployment rate at 10%. But the figure jumps to around 30% among women, who are excluded from jobs in many sectors under the strict rules of segregation in the ultra-conservative Muslim kingdom.
The population of Saudi Arabia surged last year to over 27 million, more than 30% of them expatriates.