Expat population in Oman at a 4-year low

Pedro Gonçalves
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Expat population in Oman at a 4-year low

Oman's expat population dropped to its lowest since July 2015, as the country continued to step up its omanisation plans, which includes an expat visa ban, Arab News reports.

Expatriate numbers in Oman make up only 43.7% of the total population, the lowest they have been since July 2015. According to the National Centre for Statistics and Information, as of February 25, 2019, there were 2,040,274 expats in the Sultanate, which accounts for 43.7% of the country's total population.

This is the lowest the expat population percentage has been since July 2015, when expats made up 43.6% of Oman's population. In 2017, the expat population was at 45.9% and 45.1% the previous year, as reported by local daily Times of Oman.

The decrease comes as Oman continues its efforts to nationalize its workforce, hiring more Omanis in both private and public sector jobs than foreign nationals.

However, as these countries are now pursuing policies of Omanisation and other nationalisation programmes, we can expect the number of Indian and other migrant workers in these countries to drop, which is what has been happening over the past few years"

Indians, Bangladeshi and Pakistani nationals, which constitute the majority of expats in Oman, dropped by 4.1 percent, 4.8 percent, and 7.3 percent, respectively, compared to the same period last year.

At the end of January last year, Oman implemented a visa ban, which resulted in the hiring of 64,386 Omanis in private sector companies and establishments and 4,125 more in government agencies.

"Overseas migrants have been integral to not just the development of the Omani economy and infrastructure, but the rest of the GCC countries as well, working hand-in-hand with the local work forces in these countries to identify and fill in the gaps present, while simultaneously training local work forces to take over these jobs in the future," said Ramanuj Venkatesh, a local financial analyst.

"There has been a long history of expatriate workers in countries such as Oman and the United Arab Emirates, where they are now a very valued part of the local community."

He added, "Foreign workers have been employed across multiple fields, including medicine, education, scientific research, finance, banking and so many others, as well as many blue-collar jobs in the construction, logistics, transportation and service sector industries. However, as these countries are now pursuing policies of omanisation and other nationalisation programmes, we can expect the number of Indian and other migrant workers in these countries to drop, which is what has been happening over the past few years."

About 64,386 Omanis were employed in private sector companies and establishments and 4,125 more in government agencies over the last year after Oman implemented a visa ban in the end of January 2018.

"Gulf countries have been historically dependent on expatriate workers to power their economies; with a 2013 study indicating as much as 71% of Oman's labour force are non-nationals. In Qatar, expatriate workforce was as high as 95% while in the UAE it was 94%; 83% in Kuwait; 64% in Bahrain and 49% in Saudi Arabia," Arab News added.