Oman issues six-month ban on visas for expats from 10 sectors

The Gulf country of Oman on Sunday announced a six-month ban on visas for expats from 10 industries, as part of what it said was an effort to encourage companies to hire more Omani nationals.

Altogether the ban affects 87 professions in the private sector, according to a report in today’s Muscat Daily, including 16 job types in the information systems industry; eight job categories in the airline industry, including flight attendants and air traffic controllers; and four categories of management and human resources jobs, including business administration  and public relation specialists.

The decision, No 39/2018, was issued by the sultanate’s Minister of Manpower, Sheikh Abdullah bin Nasser Al Bakri, and  comes, the Muscat Daily noted, on the heels of a Council of Ministers statement last week on the job market, and the desirability of providing more jobs for Omanis.

“Accordingly, the Council of Ministers is closely monitoring the progress of employment procedures on a weekly basis in order to have first-hand knowledge of what has been achieved and deal with any challenges that might obstruct implementation,” the Muscat Daily quoted the Council of Ministers statement as saying.

The visa ban by Oman – part of a strategy known as “Omanisation” that the Oman government has said it is undertaking – is the latest example of a global trend by governments to enact legislation that favours locals over foreigners, which, as reported here last year, has begun to make some of the until-recently-gold-paved avenues of Expatland increasingly less welcoming.

The visa ban decision, which media sources noted will take effect from the day of its publication in the Oman government’s Official Gazette, won’t apply to establishments owned by employers wholly devoted to management of their establishments which are registered with the Public Authority for Small and Medium Enterprises Development and insured with the Public Authority for Social Insurance.

‘Bias for expat workers’

In its story on the ban, the Times of Oman quoted Fabio Scacciavillani, chief economist at the Oman Investment Fund, the Oman government’s Muscat-based sovereign wealth fund, as saying the temporary visa ban was aimed at making companies “put in more effort to look for Omani professionals, as sometimes companies don’t do enough to look for Omanis”, due, he noted to a possible bias they may have for hiring expat workers.

“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,” Scacciavillani added, according to the publication.

“It will also help identify mismatch or gaps in the labour market. Moreover, if the economy improves with current oil prices, there won’t be a need for this law, as there will be enough jobs created for both Omanis and expats.”

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