Expats who work in senior management roles in Oman are set to be affected by the Ministry of Manpower's extension of its visa ban on certain occupations in the country, as the Sultanate continues to push its Omanisation policy forward.
The Ministry of Manpower (MoM) has banned the issuance of new visas for all administrative and clerical positions in the private sector in addition to several other job categories. Visas of workers employed under the specified categories will not be renewed on expiry.
Ministerial Decision 200/2019 included a "freeze on permits for expat workers in private sector institutions which engage in construction and cleaning work," and exempts companies with more than 100 workers, as well as SMEs that are properly registered at the Public Authority for SME development and the Public Authority for Social Insurance.
We hope that the decision was designed to help the labour market, in which case we stand fully behind it. Some activities are very employee-heavy, which means that when there are too many of these businesses, they negatively affect the chances of Omanis getting a job"
The positions include assistant general managers, administration mangers, director or manager of Human Resources, manager for employee affairs, training managers, follow-up managers, public relations managers and assistant director or managers.
The decision will come into effect from the day of its publication in the Official Gazette, said a statement from the ministry. Recruitment ban on expatriates in select professions was introduced a few years ago to regulate the Omani labour market and encourage more job opportunities for citizens.
Ahmed Al Hooti, Head of Economic Study and Board Member at the Oman Chamber of Commerce of Commerce and Industry (OCCI), says that the move could help Omani youth while stamping out hidden trade, where Omani citizens sell commercial registers to expats and relinquish control over the company.
"We hope that the decision was designed to help the labour market, in which case we stand fully behind it. Some activities are very employee-heavy, which means that when there are too many of these businesses, they negatively affect the chances of Omanis getting a job," he told the Times of Oman.
The move from the ministry is the latest addition to the freeze on expatriate visas, which was first issued across 87 professions at the end of January 2018, and then extended for another six months last July
Historically Gulf countries have been dependent on expatriate workers to power their economies; with a 2013 study indicating as much as 71 percent of Oman's labor force were foreign-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.
The Gulf states have since launched nationalization programs to absorb more of their citizens into the labor force, as well as address high levels of unemployment.
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