Oman bans ex-pat workers from 10 economic sectors

The move is intended to encourage employers to seek out Omani workers rather than turning immediately to the expatriate workforce

In a bid to get more Omanis into the Labour Force Oman’s Ministry of Manpower has taken the unusual step of banning the recruitment of foreign workers in 10 sectors for six months.

The drive is intended to encourage the recruitment of Omanis in the private sector following a recent government  pledge to create 25,000 jobs in six months.

The move came after hundreds of unemployed people demonstrated outside the Ministry of Manpower in Muscat and a similar protest was held in Salalah, according to Reuters News Agency.

The  ministerial decree applies to private sector companies in the “information systems, sales, marketing and management sectors, human resources, insurance, information, medical professions, airports, engineering and technical professions”, according to Oman News Agency.

It will not affect work permits issued before the ban or establishments registered with the Public Authority for Small and Medium Enterprises Development and insured with the Public Authority for Social Insurance. The ban will take effect from the day of the decree’s publication in the official gazette.

“It is a way to make companies put in more effort into looking for Omani professionals as sometimes companies don’t do enough to look for Omanis. This may be due to a bias they have for hiring expat workers,” Fabio Scacciavillani, the chief economist at sovereign fund Oman Investment Fund, told Times of Oman.

“This is a period that is long enough to hire Omanis for whatever positions and after this they can analyse whether they have had the desired effect of this ruling.”

Oman has been among the hardest hit in the Gulf Cooperation Council by the drop in oil prices over the last three years.

Reduced oil revenues led the government to introduce austerity measures in 2017 including new taxes and the halting of hiring in the public sector in order to tackle an OMR3bn ($779.1m) budget deficit. This year Oman will increase spending from OMR11.7bn to OMR12.5bn ($32.5bn) despite concern from credit agencies. It is projecting a budget deficit of OMR3bn.

This edited article first appeared in Gulf Business


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