Official visit

ILO Director-General: Saudi labour market reforms pivotal for advancing social justice and development in the Kingdom

Director-General Gilbert F. Houngbo, accompanied by Regional Director for Arab States Ruba Jaradat and the Director-General’s Senior Advisor for Africa and Arab States Chad Blackman, met with government, employer and worker representatives and attended the Global Labour Market Conference in Riyadh.

News | 14 December 2023
Meeting of Director-General Houngbo and ILO delegation with Saudi Arabia Minister of Labour H.E. Ahmad bin Sulaiman AlRajhi. ©ILO
RIYADH (ILO News) - ILO Director-General Gilbert F. Houngbo has concluded an official visit to Saudi Arabia, to meet with national and international constituents, and attend the Global Labour Market Conference (GLMC) in Riyadh.

Accompanied by ILO Regional Director for Arab States Ruba Jaradat and the Director-General’s Senior Advisor for Africa and Arab States Chad Blackman, Director-General Houngbo met with Saudi Arabia’s Minister of Human Resources and Social Development H.E. Ahmad bin Sulaiman AlRajhi, Chairperson of the Federation of Saudi Chambers Hassan Moejeb Alhwaizy, and Chairman of the Saudi National Workers’ Committee Eng. Nasser Al Juriyed.

He also met with high-level international participants attending the GLMC conference, including Palestinian Minister of Labour H.E. Nasri Abu Jaish.

Meeting of Director-General Houngbo and ILO delegation with Palestinian Minister of Labour H.E. Nasri Abu Jaish. ©ILO

In realization of its 2030 Vision, Saudi Arabia has launched numerous labour market reform initiatives, resulting in rapidly falling unemployment rates, strengthened labour rights, increased labour force participation rates including for women, and other positive indicators."

Director-General Houngbo, ILO Director-General
“Such achievements are pivotal for advancing social justice and fostering human, social, and economic development in the Kingdom. These efforts align with the objectives of the Global Coalition for Social Justice, endorsed during the 349th Session of the ILO Governing Body,” he said.

Meeting of Director-General Houngbo and ILO delegation with Chairperson of the Federation of Saudi Chambers Hassan Moejeb Alhwaizy. ©ILO
Through the ongoing new phase of the joint development cooperation programme launched in March, the ILO supports the government and social partners in Saudi Arabia in their endeavours towards advancing employment and labour market policies and outcomes, strengthening social dialogue, ensuring the application of fundamental principles and rights at work, improving skills governance for better employability of young Saudis, and enhancing occupational safety and health at work.

Meeting of Director-General Houngbo and ILO delegation with Chairman of the Saudi National Workers’ Committee Eng. Nasser Al Juriyed. ©ILO
Gilbert F. Houngbo also briefed constituents on the ILO’s work across the region, including in the Occupied Palestinian Territory (OPT), where the ILO is implementing a three-phase response programme, set to provide both immediate relief and longer-term assistance to mitigate the effects of the crisis on hundreds of thousands of affected Palestinian workers and employers.

At the GLMC, Houngbo presented a key-note address on youth employment, and participated in a discussion with youth representatives on skills for the labour markets of the future.

ILO Director-General Gilbert F. Houngbo address the Global Labour Market Conference in Riyadh. ©ILO
Houngbo noted at the conference that the ILO is once again collaborating with other UN agencies to organize a second Regional High-Level Meeting on Young people’s learning, skilling, and transition to decent work, to take place in 2024.

Houngbo also urged conference participants to support the work of the ILO’s Global Coalition for Social Justice to accelerate progress and achieve social justice and decent work for all, including for youth. He said: “Let us commit ourselves to crafting policies that embrace technological advancements, address climate change and other megatrends affecting the world of work, while upholding the principles of social justice.”