The validity of expat work visas for private sector employees in Saudi Arabia has been reduced from two years to one year, Saudi Gazette reported on Tuesday. 

The order, which was issued by the kingdom's Minister of Labor and Social Development, Dr. Ali Al-Ghafis, comes in a bid to increase employment rates among young Saudi nationals and has already taken effect. 

According to Saudi Gazette, the decision was made on the basis of Article 11 of the Labor Law. 

The provision grants the labor minister authority to make decisions "deemed necessary for improving the efficiency of the employment market".

Not the only new order announced by the ministry

Early on Sunday, Al-Ghafis issued another groundbreaking order allowing non-Saudi children born to Saudi mothers and foreign mothers of Saudi nationals to work in professions previously restricted to Saudis only. 

Saudi women who marry foreigners do not pass Saudi citizenship on to their children and before the latest announcement, those born to non-Saudi fathers couldn't work in jobs restricted to nationals. 

In recent months, "a bill to grant the Saudi citizenship to children born to Saudi mothers and foreign fathers passed the security committee at the Shura Council," according to Gulf News

The kingdom's council is currently debating the matter. 

Weaning the kingdom off expats under vision 2030

Official figures reveal that close to 9 million foreigners are employed in the kingdom. 

However, these numbers were released before the country intensified efforts to reduce its reliance on foreign labor and boost employment opportunities for Saudi nationals under the kingdom's Vision 2030

The ambitious blueprint aims to fight unemployment, which continues to rise at alarming rates among Saudi nationals. 

The kingdom has passed several orders under the plan, including one that terminates all contracts with expatriate workers in governments and ministries within three years and another that limits jobs in shopping malls to Saudi nationals. 

The ever-transforming Vision 2030 also aims to develop non-oil industries, support small and medium enterprises, increase the participation of Saudi women in the workforce and create a broader investment base in the country.