In 2009 alone the Saudi Arabia Ministry of Labour issued around a million work visas to foreign expats, recent statistics have shown.
The Saudi city that saw the most applications for expat work visas was Riyadh, clocking in 300,000 visas. The area that saw the next higest visas issued out was the Eastern province with 199,890 visas. With 185,120 visas the Makkah region was next.
The bulk of these expats are believed to work primarily in the petroleum industry. Saudi Arabia's economy is based around the oil industry, which accounts for 45 percent of the GDP, 80 percent of budget revenues and 90 percent of export earnings.
Last year the government in Saudi Arabia established the 'Saudi Employment Strategy' in a bid to enhance the employment potential of its citizens. However this initiative has not stemmed the influx of foreign expats, particularly in the private sector.
The Saudi Employment Strategy also seeks to create “adequate numbers of job opportunities with suitable wages to employ all Saudi manpower and to realise competitive advantages for the national economy”.