Construction Ministry Tightens Grip on Expat Employees

Non-nationals who apply for a work permit to engage in the construction sector must get a recommendation letter from the Ministry of Urban Development & Construction, according to a new directive issued two weeks ago.

The new directive that made the engagement of foreign citizens in the construction sector more stringent also requires expatriates in the construction industry to have at least a decade of professional experience in the specified job title. The directive listed 55 professions that are open to foreign citizens.

The designing and building of façades, kitchens, signage and acoustics; project management; real estate management; cost engineering; interior designers and construction are among the areas that are open for non-nationals. To get hired in these areas, the expatriate must have a minimum of 10 years and a maximum of 15 years of professional experience.

An employer that is going to hire an ex-pat in these jobs must apply to the Ministry to get a recommendation letter to obtain a work permit from the Ministry of Labour & Social Affairs. The application should be accompanied by a professional competence certificate of the expatriate. The recommendation letter serves for three years and must be renewed every year.

A work permit provided to an expatriate can be extended if the local assistant of the expatriate cannot take over the job from the non-national professional and when the expatriate remains crucial for the work. The directive demanded the employer train local assistants and submit a report about the knowledge transfer from the non-national to local professionals quarterly.

The directive aims to minimise the number of foreigners that engage in the construction industry and reduce unemployment and other illicit activities, according to Abdu Jemal, head of Construction Sector Competitiveness & Enrichment at the Ministry.

“The construction industry has been challenged with many problems, and the Ministry has been receiving serious complaints,” said Abdu.

Non-nationals came into the country and have been scrambling for the local market, employment opportunities, are engaged in small businesses, foreign currency smuggling, and other illegal activities, claimed Abdu.

Multilink Consulting