Oman has announced it will bar expatriates from certain jobs in an effort to create more employment opportunities for its citizens amid an economic downturn.
In a region that depends heavily on cheap foreign labour, expats in the sultanate make up about 40% of the country’s 4.5 million-strong population. Faced with an economic slump and a sharp drop in oil revenues, Oman and other Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) states have stepped up efforts to create jobs for their own citizens.
Oman’s Labour Ministry said that a number of jobs in the private sector would be nationalised. It added the work permits of foreigners in those professions would not be renewed after their expiry date. The announcement added that various jobs in insurance companies, shops and car dealerships, including finance, commercial and administrative positions, would be limited to Omanis only.
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. Since 2014, the oil-rich Gulf region has been hit hard by falling crude prices, suffering a new blow amid the global economic impact of the novel coronavirus pandemic.
Oman and fellow GCC states Saudi Arabia, the UAE, Kuwait, Qatar and Bahrain 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.