Saudi Moves to Limit Foreign Workers' Permits

RIYADH, Saudi Arabia -- Saudi Arabia's labor minister says the kingdom will not renew work permits of expatriate workers who have been in the country for six years or more, a step aimed at boosting job opportunities for Saudis.

The pan-Arab daily Al-Hayat on Monday quoted Labor Minister Adel Fekyeh as saying unemployment in the kingdom is 10.5 percent.

Unemployment is a main cause behind uprisings in the Arab world, which have largely bypassed Saudi Arabia.

Fekyeh said 90 percent of the private sector labor force is foreign, and the country's 8 million foreign workers send home roughly $26.7 billion a year. It was not clear how many would be affected.

Saudi Arabia's king has pledged over $80 billion to boost the quality of life for his citizens, including job creation and new housing.