Oman puts the brakes on expat hiring

Six-month ban on work visas imposed in 10 different sectors

Oman has taken the unusual step of enforcing a six-month ban on expat hires working across specific job sectors and roles, as part of a plan aimed at creating 25,000 jobs for Omani nationals over the course of that period.

The ruling, which came into effect at the end of January 2018, is predicted to last until the end of July, according to the Ministry of Manpower (MoM), but will not apply to existing visas.

Minister of Manpower Sheikh Abdullah Al Bakri said: “The decision temporarily prohibits hiring of expatriate manpower in private sector establishments for six months. Work permits issued before the date of implementation of this decision are exempted.”

Oman’s Council of Ministers issued a statement saying the body: “…is closely monitoring the progress of employment procedures on a weekly basis in order to get first-hand knowledge of what has been achieved and deal with any challenges that might obstruct implementation of plans.”

The Omani government’s focus on jobs for nationals is not new, with similar attempts to create jobs having been attempted in the past. A previous ban prevented expat employees moving from one company to another within the country without first acquiring a No Objection Certificate (NOC) from their employer.

The current restriction is intended to force companies to try to fill roles from the national workforce, and is in part an attempt to counteract a suspected bias by companies, either conscious or unconscious, towards expats when making decisions about who to take on. Sectors falling under the restriction include human resources and administration, accounting and finance, engineering, and marketing and sales.

Commenting on the ban, Deputy Prime Minister for the Council of Ministers Sayyid Fahd Bin Mahmoud Al Said stated it was a national duty to provide employment for Omanis, and to achieve this successfully the labour market needs to be regularised.

“The government is working hard to achieve [its aims] so that the labour market can handle the requirements of each stage of development”, he said.

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