JEDDAH — The Ministry of Labor and Social Development (MLSD) said in its annual report that it rejected as many as 533,016 applications for work visas in 2016, representing about 62.77 percent of the total foreign recruitment requests which were 849,228. The ministry said it approved 316,212 work visa applications representing about 37.24 percent of the total number of applications it received. It said work visas were electronically issued through its special computer service for work visa issuance. The ministry said it has signed five-year agreements and MoUs to employ workers from Turkey, Mexico, Egypt, India, Morocco and Cambodia. The ministry has also signed temporary MoUs with China, Japan and Malaysia to this effect. The new Nitaqat system will be implemented from Sept. 3, the ministry’s spokesman Khaled Aba Al-Khail said. He said the Nitaqat program was aimed at improving the market performance, raising the quality of employment and creating more job opportunities for Saudi men and women. “We are trying to create a safe and conducive work environment and to put an end to unproductive nationalization of jobs,” he said. Aba Al-Khail said the rate of Saudization of jobs is decided according to economic activities of establishments. “We have also divided SMEs into categories A and B,” he said.