ISLAMABAD      -     Saudi Arabia has agreed to a request by Pakistan for an increased share of the labor force in the multi-billion dollar New Taif City development.

“I asked the Saudi labor minister for a larger quota for Pakistani manpower in the New Taif City project,” said Sayed Zulfikar Bukhari, Special Assistant to the Prime Minister on Overseas Pakistanis and Human Resource Development, during an interview with Arab News.

“He has agreed and promised to set up a proper mechanism for this. The Saudi labor minister told me that Pakistani manpower will play a big part in the project, and that his leadership also asked for this,” Bukhari said.

Pakistan and Saudi Arabia have formed working groups to develop procedures for this transfer of manpower, added Bukhari, who will visit the Kingdom in the coming months to finalize the arrangements.

“The working group will first connect the (online recruitment) portals and then we will have numbers to process the manpower,” he said, adding that recent development initiatives undertaken by Saudi Arabia have generated a lot of economic activity and opportunities.

“The New Taif City project aims to build a new airport, develop Okaz City, and establish a technical oasis, residential areas, a university and an industrial city, so they need a lot of skilled manpower because Saudi local manpower is not enough for a mega project like that.”

Saudi Arabia has launched Musaned, a digital platform designed to improve the recruitment process and ensure that workers’ rights are protected.

Once it is connected to Pakistan’s online jobs portal, there will be a steady flow of demand for labor from the Kingdom, Bukhari said.