Economic Impact of the COVID-19 Pandemic on the Labor Force Employed in the Translation Industry of Saudi Arabia

Mubarak Alkhatnai


The on-going pandemic caused by COVID-19 has undoubtedly created huge impact not only to human health but to livelihood as well. The translation industry is a key player in the economy of multi-linguistic nations like Saudi Arabia, and the labor market inherent to it faces imminent challenges posed by this global health crisis. It is the intention of this study to look into the economic status of translators working in Saudi Arabia in relation to the COVID-19 pandemic. Email interviews were conducted to random translators from different agencies in the country. After a thorough descriptive analysis of their pre- and post-COVID labor situation, it was found that there was generally a decrease in income of the translators whose portfolio is comprised by the translation business by 50%. Nonetheless, there are very few of those who consider translation as the main source of income who benefitted from the situation. Translation rates also had to be reduced by 7% to 8% in order to become competitive in the market. This applies to the various sectors utilizing translation services including post-editing machine translation, transcreation, and localized engineering, among others. However, among the sectors covered in this study, the demand for translation services was observed to be most significant in the healthcare, life sciences, and medical and pharmaceutical sectors. It is then the hope of this study to contribute knowledge in finding effective means to alleviate the economic conditions of translators who, in one way or another, could be considered as frontliners in this trying time.


Pandemic, Labor Economy, Translation Industry, Saudi Arabia

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