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A Riyadh gold souk festooned with glittering jewelry has run short of salesmen after a government edict to replace foreign workers with Saudis, part of contentious efforts to tackle high unemployment.Some gold shops have shut down and others are struggling amid a shortage of skilled Saudi labor after the government enforced "100 percent Saudization" in December.Nearly two-thirds of all Saudis are employed by the government, and the public sector wage bill and allowances account for roughly half of all government expenditure.Government statistics show that more than 300,000 blue-collar workers lost jobs in Saudi Arabia in the first nine months of 2017 alone.Aggressive Saudization is not driving down joblessness among nationals, experts say, despite government assurances that it will create thousands of jobs.The government's ambitious quota scheme requires companies to meet a certain Saudization percentage in their workforce in exchange for government incentives.To fill their quotas, some companies hire Saudis and pay them small salaries to stay at home, in effect creating fake jobs, business owners and experts say.
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