Workforce localization, women workers and gendered power relations in Saudi Arabian private sector workplaces

Saja Albelali, Stephen Williams

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

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Purpose: The paper investigates the implications for gendered power relations at work of Nitaqat, a workforce localization policy operating in Saudi Arabia which, by regulating the employment of Saudi nationals in private sector firms, has stimulated greater feminization of employment.

Design/methodology/approach: Based on an interpretivist, phenomenological research approach, rich qualitative data were collected in two case study organizations - a retail company and an architectural firm. The mixed-method design involved in-depth interviews with managers and women workers and extensive non-participant observation.

Findings: In Exploring gendered power relations in Saudi private sector workplaces under the Nitaqat regime, the paper highlights the importance of patriarchal power. However, increased feminization of employment provides women workers with access to power resources of their own, producing complexity and variation in gendered workplace power relations.

Originality: Drawing on Bradley's (1999) relational conception of gendered power, the paper illuminates how a Nitaqat-inspired feminization of employment, by increasing firms' dependency on women workers, has influenced the dynamics of gendered power relations in Saudi workplaces.
Original languageEnglish
JournalEmployee Relations
Publication statusAccepted for publication - 30 Sep 2021


  • feminization of employment
  • gendered power relations
  • nitaqat
  • Saudi Arabia
  • women workers
  • workforce localization


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