The New Saudi: What's in store for Filipino nurses?
The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia has always played a special role in Philippine overseas migration. To-date, it is the largest hirer of Overseas Filipino Workers (OFWs) and has the largest Filipino population in the Middle East region. Filipinos make up the fourth largest group of foreigners in Saudi Arabia, accounting for the second largest source of remittances from the Philippines. It shouldn’t be a surprise, then, how Philippine migration is closely intertwined with the status of Saudi Arabia’s economic, political and cultural environment.
This correlation was evident when the price of crude oil started declining from 2008 onwards, ushering the Middle East in an energy crisis. As the world’s top producer of oil, Saudi Arabia was largely affected, compelling its public and private sectors to reduce spending in the face of a now struggling economy. The Ministry of Health (MOH), Saudi’s government agency assigned to national health care, was one of the many groups affected as they started imposing budget cuts on their operations, including the recruitment of new talents. The MOH’s human resource teams developed creative ways of dealing with these restrictions such as lowering salaries; curtailing benefits; or sometimes, offering less job vacancies in their hospitals. This, in turn, affected the number of deployed Filipino nurses to Saudi Arabia as it started declining in the same period.
Although the price of oil has stabilized in recent years, Saudi Arabia will not let an energy crisis affect its economy again. With the world growing less reliant on oil due to alternative energy sources, it is only imperative for the country to think ahead. Saudi Arabia addressed this looming issue through Vision 2030, a comprehensive plan announced by Crown Prince Mohamman bin Salman last April 25, 2016. This plan is composed of 80 projects, each costing between 3.7MUSD – 20MUSD, that should keep the country from being too dependent on crude oil. Through focusing on other industries such as health, education, infrastructure, recreation and tourism, Saudi Arabia will not only be freed from a general reliance on oil but also improve its overall standing in the international scene.
WHAT IS THE GOAL OF VISION 2030?
Vision 2030 describes the country’s aim to be three important things by the year 2030: the heart of the Arab and Islamic worlds; a global investment powerhouse; and a hub connecting the three continents of Europe, Asia and Africa.
As the heart of the Arab and Islamic worlds, the country recognizes that its religious relevance—not oil—is Allah’s most important gift to the country. Saudi Arabia is the Land of the Two Holy Mosques, the most sacred sites on earth, and the direction of the Kaaba (Qibla) to which more than a billion Muslims turn at prayer. It is only natural for the country to serve as a home to hundreds and thousands of Arabs and Muslims all over the world.
As a global investment powerhouse, the country shall maximize its strong investment capabilities and harness them to stimulate the economy and diversify revenues. Saudi Arabia boasts of many other resources that make the country worth investing in such as its non-petroleum natural resources; wide land areas for real estate; growing private sector; and diverse manpower.
As a global hub, Saudi Arabia shall take advantage of its strategic location. Through its geographic position between key global waterways, the Kingdom has the potential to be an epicenter of trade and the gateway to the world.
HOW WILL SAUDI ARABIA ACHIEVE VISION 2030?
Mohammad bin Salman defined three themes, or guidelines, through which this end goal will be achieved. The first theme highlights the relevance of building a “vibrant” society as this will be the strong foundation for economic prosperity. Being “vibrant” means members of the society are provided the proper support and guidance to enable them to perform oustandingly in the different facets of their lives. “Vibrant” members are faithful to the Islamic principle of moderation; proud of their national identity and ancient cultural heritage; capable of enjoying a high quality of life; protected by caring families; and supported by an empowering social and health care system.
The second theme focuses on creating a thriving economy that provides numerous opportunities for all.
First, Saudi Arabia encourages more locals to join the labor force through an educational system aligned with market needs. There are many foreigners living and working in Saudi Arabia yet there remain many locals who are unemployed despite finishing college. A higher quality, multi-faceted education shall be pursued to properly equip Saudi children for the careers of the future. Second, the country shall offer better quality service and promote competition to improve Saudi Arabia’s overall business environment. This will be achieved through removing barriers for aspiring entrepreneurs, privatizing some government services and attracting the best talents both locally and globally. Third, the country will develop investment tools, especially for its non-oil sectors, to help diversify its economy and attract more investments from abroad.
The third and last theme involves a general shift in perspective among its citizens: the Vision calls its citizens to be an ambitious nation that can accomplish whatever it wants to achieve. An attitude of efficiency and responsibility is expected at all levels. This needs an effective, transparent, accountable, enabling and high-performing government that prepares the right environment for its citizens where they can take responsibility for their own lives and take the initiative in facing challenges or seizing opportunities.
Saudi Arabia believes that through developing its citizens; improving the economic environment; and transforming the country’s overall mindset, it will be able to deliver stability and create a brighter future for the country and its people.
HOW WILL VISION 2030 AFFECT FILIPINO NURSES & HEALTH CARE PROFESSIONALS?
This extensive program has taken the international scene by storm as other countries feel optimistic and hopeful for the transformation that shall come to the Kingdom. Filipino nurses and health care professionals may experience remarkable changes too, such as
more opportunities in Saudi Arabia’s health care industry. Health will be highly prioritized in the country as it is one of the building blocks of a “vibrant” society. Moreover, the health care sector is one of the non-oil industries that Saudi Arabia wants to focus on as part of its goal to diversify the economy. This will not only generate more hospitals and health care institutions, but will also develop the country’s overall health care landscape as the contribution of foreign investors will introduce modern and unique ways of providing health care. This said, there will not only be more job vacancies for Filipino nurses and health care professionals, but also a wider variety of career opportunities in the country’s health care industry.
tighter competition. Although there will be more opportunities, these will also be accessible to a greater population. Saudi Arabia will progressively develop its locals, tapping even its own educational system to ensure they have the proper training for the careers of the future. It will also encourage more Saudi women to enter the workforce, which the Kingdom used to reserve only for foreign workers. Filipinos, in turn, will compete with more potential candidates for these opportunities, many of which are Saudi locals themselves. Additionally, Saudi Arabia's business environment will generally be more cutthroat in nature: They will privatize government services (such as hospitals) and attract only the cream of the crop from Saudi Arabia and the rest of the world to encourage competition. Filipinos will have to brace themselves for a more challenging job application journey and work setting in the Kingdom.
healthier career and personal environment. Though applying for job positions—and retaining them—in Saudi Arabia will be more difficult for Filipinos, competition will still be more advantageous. Filipinos will now compete against candidates who have been likewise qualified based on performance. They will be able to work with high quality teammates in a work environment that follows a fair and merit-based system. They will also encounter a diverse culture where equality and tolerance is prioritized despite differences in gender, race, or religion. Competition can be more demanding for all nurses and health care professionals, but it will bring out the best in everyone.
It has only been a year since Prince Mohamman bin Salman declared Vision 2030 to the world; much is left to be done to bring the plan to fruition. Still, it is a very exciting phase in the history of Saudi Arabia, one that Filipinos and many other countries can be a part of. If you are a Filipino nurse or health care professional who is interested in being a part of the New Saudi, you can apply to our various National Guard Health Affairs vacancies. These hospitals provide vacation leaves every 6 months, making you feel closer to home despite being assigned to Saudi Arabia. Apply to any of these NGHA Hospitals through https://applicant.abba.ph for a chance to be interviewed:
King Abdulaziz Medical City, Riyadh
King Abdullah Specialized Children’s Hospital, Riyadh
King Abdulaziz Medical City, Jeddah
King Abdulaziz Hospital, Al-Ahsa
King Abdulaziz Hospital, Dammam
Prince Mohammed Bin Abdulaziz Hospital, Madinah
Tine Peyra is a Recruitment Assistant in Abba Personnel Services, Inc. She joined our team this year and has been recruiting for King Abdulaziz Medical City, Riyadh; King Abdullah Specialized Children’s Hospital, Riyadh; and Prince Mohammed Bin Abdulaziz Hospital, Madinah. She graduated from the University of the East with a Bachelor’s Degree in Psychology.