Saudi needs 60,000 staff, nurses for its hospitals

A TOP Saudi Arabian hospital is interviewing Filipino nurses here to fill 60,000 hospital positions in the Kingdom in the next six months, an executive said yesterday.

“Even with the economic crisis, the demand for nurses and other medical staff in the Middle East is very high and very urgent,” said Lito Soriano, a senior officer of LBS E-Recruitment Solution.

“Unlike in the United States, the projected need for nurses in the Middle East is immediate.”

Soriano said the King Fahd Medical Center was only one of many Saudi hospitals looking for Filipino nurses, and that its officials were here to interview candidates.

He said King Fahd had only recently hired two Philippine recruitment agencies to fill up its vacancies.

“The top priorities in Saudi are security and health,” Soriano said.

“Its ministries of defense, aviation and health, which operate government hospitals, are doing the hiring not just for nurses but for technical medical workers like x-ray technicians, respiratory technicians and the like.”

Soriano said Saudi Arabia was paying $600 to $1,000 a month in basic salaries “on top of free housing, free transportation and yearly vacation.”

The Kingdom had only recently increased its inflation allowance to 10 percent from 5 to preserve its workers’ purchasing power, he said.

Soriano, also executive director of the Federated Association of Manpower Exporters, said his group was urging President Arroyo to grant indefinite visas to foreign principals employing Filipino workers.

Mrs. Arroyo recently signed Executive Order 758, which grants indefinite visas to foreign businessmen who hire 10 or more Filipinos for their businesses here.

Soriano said his group hoped the President would extend the same privilege to foreigners recruiting for their respective countries. Michael Caber with Arlie Calalo

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