Saudi School Transportation System To Open Up 48,500 Jobs
The Saudi Cabinet has decided to multiply the size of the school transportation system which will create 48,500 employment positions in the Kingdom. The Minister of Education, Faisal bin Abdullah, noted that the increased size will also foster an appreciation for public transport.
There are currently 14,000 employees working within the system. The changes should increase that number to around 48,500, including both administration staff and drivers. Alterations and expansions will also affect other offices. A study reported that around one third of government workers left the office early to pick up their kids from school. This new system would eliminate that problem.
This move by the Cabinet will allow 1.2 million students to benefit from the new system, compared to 600,000 students accounted with the older system. These numbers also allocate 25 percent of the space to girls attending public school.
The Minister noted that a better transport system will decrease the number of dropouts and improve efficiency.
Traffic congestion will also decrease, as will the use of petrol. The Minister stated that SR 2.2bn will be saved on an annual basis, simply by reducing the fuel consumption.
A Cabinet decision was put through to increase the number of female students, doubling the girls benefiting from the transport system in the 2011/2012 school year. This increase will begin in regions where the system has been successful, spreading to other locations as they are technically prepared.
The transport system is to be applied to male students gradually, beginning in selected regions before being implemented across the Kingdom as it finds success.
Education Ministry worker Sami Al-Dobaikhi, transport system supervisor, noted that the system was introduced three years ago, beginning with 600,000 students. Al-Dobaikhi noted that new contract awards will provide more service and the system should reach Cabinet targets by the next school year.
The system includes Saudi firms and considers both population growth and the age of students.
Problems with the system are mainly the fault of the local transportation system, stated Al-Dobaikhi. He stated that the student transport system is strictly run, only using drivers over 30 years of age and without a criminal record.
Overcrowding is due to a lack of diligence and also indicates the interest within the student population. Al-Dobaikhi stated that improvements to the system will help create better travel times, the aim being a 45-minute trip.
IMF Reports Qatar and Saudi Arabia Are Economic Leaders in MENA Region
Growth in the Middle East and North African region will be led by Qatar and driven by the nation’s increasing natural gas exports, according to the International Monetary Fund. Iraq and Saudi Arabia will also be at the forefront of regional growth.
The forecasts for Qatari growth have been recently lowered, dropping to 18.7 percent from 20 percent. Expansion within the Gulf nation is now forecasted at 6.0 percent for 2012.
Forecasts state that Saudi Arabia will see 3.6 percent growth in 2012.
Oil importing nations, most of whom were hit by political uprisings earlier this year, are expected to continue at a subdued pace, according to the IMF. The IMF is forecasting, 2.5 percent growth for these oil importers in 2012 supported by recovery in investments.
UAE Economy Driven by the Non Oil Sector
The non oil sector in the UAE is rebounding. Along with the improved levels of oil production in Abu Dhabi, this condition will help to drive performance in the UAE economy for the balance of this year, according to Standard Chartered Bank.
Abu Dhabi GDP growth forecasts from the bank were lowered from 4 percent to 3.4 percent. Overall expectations for the UAE economy declined from 4 percent to 3.8 percent.
Slower spending will continue throughout this year, despite many projects in the pipeline. Projects that were underway within the first six months of 2011 are valued at $16.4 billion, compared to $18.7 billion in the same time period last year, according to analysts Victor Lahle and Shady Shaher.
These analysts issued a report outlining the reasons for decreased spending in Abu Dhabi. Entitled “Global Problems, Regional Challenges, Local Answers,” the report stated that there is now a focus on financial discipline and a shifting dynamic in the regional projects.
One GRE (or government related enterprise) in Abu Dhabi cut spending by almost 28 percent this year, according to the report. Other major projects were delayed, such as the Louvre museum (valued at $1bn) and the Marfaq-Ghweifat highway (valued at $2bn). Others were delayed, such as the Abu Dhabi International Airport’s midfield terminal (valued at $6.8bn).
Spending in non oil has been lower, but has also been offset by increased oil production and stronger social spending in the federal levels, as well as in the emirates. A massive project in April of this year saw 7,500 homes built for UAE nationals. The government of Abu Dhabi have also recently announced around $600mn in housing loans, dealing with 1,400 nationals.
Oil output and production capacity has been increased in the UAE, according to data from the International Energy Agency. Bank analysts reported that oil output has risen by 13 percent this year. There was also a 16.5 percent surge in exports and re-exports over the first six months of 2011.Paul Holdsworth, Staff Writer, Gulf Jobs Market News