June 3, 2018 / 7:37 AM / a year ago

Saudi stocks climb after private sector businessman named labour minister

DUBAI, June 3 (Reuters) - Saudi Arabia’s stock market rose in early trade on Sunday after private sector businessman Ahmed bin Suleiman al-Rajhi was named minister of labour at the weekend.

The stock index was 1.3 percent higher after 25 minutes of trade. Al Rajhi Bank surged 3.0 percent; the new minister is a son of the founder of the bank.

Many Saudi businessmen have been deeply frustrated by labour policy, including measures which make it harder and more expensive to hire foreign workers, and an inefficient, time-consuming system of obtaining employment visas.

Although it is not clear whether any steps to curb hiring of foreign workers will be relaxed, businessmen now hope for policy to be implemented more sympathetically, and for bureaucracy to be made more efficient.

Last year sources told Reuters that Rajhi was among a delegation of 10 businessmen representing the private sector who met Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman to discuss how the sector had been hit by austerity measures and rising fees for employing foreigners. (Reporting by Andrew Torchia)

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