Oman bars expatriates from certain jobs as pandemic bites

In April 2020, Oman ordered state-owned companies to accelerate the process of replacing foreign staff with Omani nationals [File: Mohammed Mahjoub/AFP]
In April 2020, Oman ordered state-owned companies to accelerate the process of replacing foreign staff with Omani nationals [File: Mohammed Mahjoub/AFP]

Oman’s labour ministry has said it will bar expatriates from certain jobs in the private sector, in an attempt to create more jobs for its citizens amid an economic downturn.

Expats in the Gulf country make up about 40 percent of its 4.5 million-strong population. “A number of jobs in the private sector will be nationalised,” the ministry announced on Twitter on Sunday. It added the work permits of foreigners in those professions will not be renewed after their expiry date. Various jobs in insurance companies, shops and car dealerships, including finance, commercial and administrative positions, will be “limited to Omanis only”, the ministry said, all accounting jobs within car dealership companies will be reserved for citizens, it added. Work as a driver, “no matter what the vehicle”, will also be reserved for citizens. In April 2020, Oman ordered state-owned companies to accelerate the process of replacing foreign staff with Omani nationals, especially in senior positions, to create more jobs for citizens. The finance ministry at the time said large numbers of expatriates still occupied managerial posts in state-run firms.

Oman has been hit hard by the coronavirus pandemic as well as lower crude prices and has raised the possibility of assistance from its Gulf neighbours. The sultanate’s economy is estimated to have shrunk 10 percent in 2020, according to projections from the International Monetary Fund, among the steepest in the Gulf amid the pandemic. Against this background, the GCC member states including Bahrain, Kuwait, Oman, Qatar, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates – have sought to diversify their economies and integrate millions of new graduates into their workforces. All have introduced legislation to give nationals preference over foreigners in both the public and private sectors. More than 25 million foreigners live in the Gulf, making up the majority of the populations in the UAE, Qatar and Kuwait.

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