The number of foreign workers living in Saudi Arabia fell dramatically last year, with more than 257,000 leaving in 3Q alone, according to officlal figures released today.

The General Authority for Statistics reported the drop in numbers, which was in line with forecasts that Saudi Arabia would shed 1.2 million expats over the course of 2020.

The Authority's survey, which canvassed the labour force across the kingdom, also revealed a rise of 81,900 QoQ in the number of Saudis in the workplace. Saudi national employees numbered a record 3.25 million at the end of 3Q2020.

The sharp decline in expat numbers is part of a drive to boost citizens' employment, and is broadly in line with a shift that has taken place across the Gulf, with Oman, Kuwait and Bahrain, in particular, reporting sharp decreases. 

The covid-19 epidemic has prompted tens of thousands of expats from all over the world to return home.

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