Bin Laden has dominated the Saudi construction sector for years, and is central to the country’s plans for tourism and infrastructure projects aimed at diversifying the economy’s resources away from oil revenues by 2030.
These plans remain vulnerable to an economic downturn caused by the Corona virus pandemic and falling oil prices, forcing the government to rein in spending and increase borrowing.
The sources said that thousands of group employees were either allowed to take unpaid leave or were referred to it, especially those who worked on construction sites in open spaces and places where the outbreak of the Corona virus hindered work.
These sources added that the group imposed salary cuts between 30 and 70% and canceled other allowances, such as transportation, in an effort to cut costs.
Earlier this month, Reuters reported that the group was looking for a consultant to cut costs and restructure the debt of the skyscraper complex in Mecca.
The move comes as part of efforts to restructure the construction group after the government acquired a 35% stake in the bin Laden family after they included a campaign against what he described as “graft” launched by Riyadh in late 2017.
In the UAE, sources said that the “dnata” airport services of the “Emirates” group, laid off some employees and granted thousands of others unpaid leave, with a significant decline in activities due to the Corona virus.
And dnata – which employs 45,000 around the world in its airport and travel services sectors around the world – announced this month that its annual profit fell 57% after the pandemic undermined demand for travel.
Two sources said that the group dispensed a number of workers at Dubai’s Al Maktoum Airport, while three other sources said that thousands were given unpaid leave, according to Reuters.
A spokesman for the group told Reuters that “a large number of employees” were given unpaid leave and that some had been laid off. The spokesman or sources did not say how many workers were affected.
The spokesman said that many of the “dnata” operations had become “zero” as a result of the pandemic, and that the group had to take “difficult steps” to adjust the business model due to the future blur.
On Sunday, Bloomberg news agency quoted informed sources that the “Emirates” group plans to cut about 30,000 jobs, to reduce costs in light of the Corona virus pandemic.