Saudi Arabia looks to nationalize healthcare jobs within five years

The Saudi government is taking steps to make sure that all healthcare jobs will be filled by nationals by 2018.

According to the Arabian Gazette, government agencies are currently working on "Saudization" of the healthcare sector. The move would be based on the availability of finding qualified workers and growing requirements from within the industry.

Saudi Arabian officials have promised to spend $4 billion on a number of new healthcare projects in anticipation of a significant rise in demand of healthcare services. The funding will go toward 22 new medical projects in Saudi Arabia, including a number of medical complexes and hospitals.

A recent study by the Riyadh Chamber of Commerce and Industry found that foreigners make up more than half - 51 percent - of the kingdom's healthcare workforce. At the same time, the study also found a lack of Saudi men interested in pursuing careers in healthcare.

The Saudi Ministry of Health found that 1,364 specialists were recruited from abroad in 2012, saying that the influx of foreign specialists stemmed from a prevalence of non-communicable ailments such as cancer and heart disease. 

The news agency reported earlier this year that the country's heavy reliance on expatriot medical staff is unsustainable.