Companies in Oman need government permission to hire expats

Pedro Gonçalves
Companies in Oman need government permission to hire expats

Oman-based companies will have to secure the Ministry of Manpower's go ahead before they can hire expats, according to local media as the country considers extending its expat visa ban.

A new traffic light-themed online system is currently being rolled out in Oman, in which companies' Omanization quotas are being monitored. 

Under this new system, companies that meet Omanization standards set by the government will receive a green signal online, allowing them to proceed with hiring expat employees.

Companies with unclear Omanization policies will be given a yellow signal, while companies that fall short of meeting their quotas will receive a red signal, barring them from moving forward with hiring expat employees.

"The new system focuses on enhancing Omanization rates in the private establishments," said a ministry spokesperson.

The step taken by the government is part of the Omanization drive to recruit more of its citizens in private companies, a similar push is underway across the GCC where countries like Saudi Arabia and Kuwait have also been trying to increase the number of nationals in private sector employment.

According to data from the National Centre of Statistics and Information (NCSI), the Omanisation rate in the construction sector was around 8.2%at the end of 2017. In the automotive sale and repair sector, it was around 13%.

The highest rates of Omanisation were found in oil and gas companies (80.6 per cent), insurance and financial services (67.7%), commercial banks (93.1%) and the communication sector (75.9%). The Omanisation levels for hotels were around 28.9%.

One of Oman's top officials at the country's Ministry of Manpower has said that the visa ban that is currently in place to limit expatriate jobs across 87 professions can be extended in the future, depending on the needs of the local job market.

The current visa ban is expected to expire at the end of January 2019, however Salim bin Nasser Al Hadhrami, director general of Planning and Development at the Manpower Ministry, told the Times of Oman that the visa ban could be extended further if needed.

"The Ministry of Manpower issued a ministerial decree No. (38/2018) to temporarily suspend the authorisation of a non-Omani labour force in some professions, which included an extension, such as information systems, accounting and finance, sales and marketing, administration, human resources and insurance," he said.

"The decision to regulate the labour market, provide job opportunities for job seekers in these disciplines, reduce the recruitment of labour force in the country, and the ban for a period of six months can be renewed based on the results of the study and the success in providing job opportunities in these disciplines."

A study is currently underway to gauge the extent of how successful the visa ban has been towards providing jobs for Omanis.