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Oman Extends Expat Visa Ban

The Omani government has officially announced that it will be extending the ban on hiring expats in multiple work sectors for a further six months.

While the decision has not come as part of a blanket policy the visa ban will still cover 87 different specialist working industries including engineering, insurance, and medicine.

This freeze on expat recruitment is part of an attempt to combat growing unemployment rates among Omani citizens. Hopes are that Oman will soon be able to train its own population in the skilled trade areas instead of relying on an importation of labour.

Defending their decision The Oman Ministry of Man Power has declared that this initiative will “give private companies more time to create vacancies for Omanis who are out of work”.

While the public sector, due to it’s higher pay rates, doesn’t seem to have any issue with 90% of the civil service being made up by Omanians, the government plans to offer private companies incentives to hire nationals instead of expatriates.

Manpower consultant, Salim Al Rawahi, told The National “It makes sense that the government is pushing for a bigger percentage of Omanisation in the private sector. Most of these jobs currently occupied by expatriates can be taken by Omanis.”

The Ministry of Manpower had on January 28, previously announced a six-month ban lasting until July, but now with the extension expats won’t be employable in the listed industries until 2019.

Prior to this month, the expat workforce population had been rapidly increasing. Between 2007 and 2017 the number of non-Omani employees grew by over 300%. This lead to concerns about the opportunities of Omani citizens potentially being limited by the fluctuation of an already skilled workforce.

The result is now that Expats numbers are decreasing. In June the National Centre for Statistics and Information reported a fall of over 43,000 people in the expat population of Oman who currently make up 70% of workers in the private sector.

Expats now make up 44% of Oman’s total population which currently stands at just over 4.5million – although this number is expected to continually decline as the freeze continues.

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