• Monday, Jan 30, 2023
  • Last Update : 10:24 am

For Saudis, burger-flipping is no longer anything to sneer at

  • Published at 07:55 am August 1st, 2018
One Way Burger
Bader al-Ajmi, owner of "One Way Burger"cooking food at his truck at Riyadh | AFP

"Many people were against the food truck. Now they say: 'If you have a job, let me know,'" said Ajmi, owner of One Way Burger

One Way Burger is not like any other food truck in Riyadh. However to people’s surprise, behind the grill is a 38-year-old Saudi.

Since Ajmi started his business, dipping into his personal savings, owning a food truck has become the trend du jour and attained a level of respectability. Working inside as a cook apparently still has not.

"When I started this food truck two years ago many people said: 'What? You will sell burgers and sandwiches in the street? You come from a big family and big tribe'," said Bader al-Ajmi, owner of One Way Burger.

"People were surprised," he added, as a Porsche pulled up at the side of his truck to place an order.

Additionally, aristocratic Lexus-owners work as Uber drivers for spare cash.

"Will Saudis ever work as street cleaners?" columnist Abdulhadi al-Saadi recently asked in the daily Saudi Gazette.

"Some people will look down at this proposal. They should know that nations only rise on the shoulders of their own people," he wrote.

Last December, residents of eastern Al-Ahsa region feted a handful of young Saudis who swallowed their pride to do another job long deemed dishonourable - working at a gas station.

"There is no shame in this work," a gas station customer said in a Snapchat video.

"Prophet Mohammed used to work as a shepherd," he added. 

"Saudis are moving into jobs historically dominated by expatriate workers," said Graham Griffiths, senior analyst at the consultancy Control Risks.

Nearly two-thirds of all Saudis are employed by the government, and the public sector wage bill and allowances account for roughly half of all government expenditure.

Meanwhile, the government's push to replace foreigners with Saudi workers, a policy known as "Saudization" as well as a backbreaking expat levy are driving a huge exodus of expats, who hold 70 percent of all jobs.

Official statistics show nearly 800,000 foreign workers have left the kingdom since the beginning of 2017, creating what business owners call a "hiring crisis".

Many companies are reported to be circumventing the policy by paying Saudi workers small salaries to sit at home; effectively creating bogus jobs in a malpractice termed "Fake Saudization".

Flipping sizzling slabs of meat inside his food truck, Ajmi said in the early days he did everything from dicing vegetables to handling the countertop deep fryer.

He has since hired two more Saudis and two Indian workers, but recruiting Saudis still remains a challenge.

Facebook 50
blogger sharing button blogger
buffer sharing button buffer
diaspora sharing button diaspora
digg sharing button digg
douban sharing button douban
email sharing button email
evernote sharing button evernote
flipboard sharing button flipboard
pocket sharing button getpocket
github sharing button github
gmail sharing button gmail
googlebookmarks sharing button googlebookmarks
hackernews sharing button hackernews
instapaper sharing button instapaper
line sharing button line
linkedin sharing button linkedin
livejournal sharing button livejournal
mailru sharing button mailru
medium sharing button medium
meneame sharing button meneame
messenger sharing button messenger
odnoklassniki sharing button odnoklassniki
pinterest sharing button pinterest
print sharing button print
qzone sharing button qzone
reddit sharing button reddit
refind sharing button refind
renren sharing button renren
skype sharing button skype
snapchat sharing button snapchat
surfingbird sharing button surfingbird
telegram sharing button telegram
tumblr sharing button tumblr
twitter sharing button twitter
vk sharing button vk
wechat sharing button wechat
weibo sharing button weibo
whatsapp sharing button whatsapp
wordpress sharing button wordpress
xing sharing button xing
yahoomail sharing button yahoomail