Muscat: The number of expat workers in the Sultanate has nearly doubled in a decade, with the Oman Chamber of Commerce and Industry (OCCI) attributing it to the large number of development projects currently being implemented in the country.
According to the latest statistics of the Ministry of Manpower, there has been an increase of 167 per cent in the number of foreign workers since 2003.
The number of expatriate workers in the private sector was 579,643 in 2003 and 1,053,055 in 2010, reaching 1,549,410 by March 2014. The total number of paid national workforce by the end of March this year was 217,578.
The total paid labour force working in the private sector stood at 1,766,988 by the end of March 2014.
Redha Juma Mohammed Ali Al Saleh, the OCCI's vice-chairman for administration and finance affairs, believes that the huge increase is due to large-scale projects that are being implemented.
"We definitely need expatriates. Many projects are on simultaneously. That is why we are in need of foreign expatriates.
"Once, after some time when big projects such as airports and road projects are completed, the number of expatriate workers will be reduced automatically," Al Saleh told the Times of Oman.
The figures released by the National Centre for Statistics and Information indicate that of Oman's population of 2,340,815 in 2003, 1,781,558 were Omanis and 559,257 were non-Omanis.
In 2010, the Sultanate's population reached 2,773,479, out of which 1,957,336 were Omanis and 816,143 were non-Omanis.
In March 2014, the population stood at 3,987,033, comprising 2,226,033 Omanis and 1,761,000 expatriates.
According to the statistics, Muscat recorded the highest number of expatriate workers with 616,418 foreigners and 71,836 Omani employees.
184,159 expats in retail sector
It is followed by North Al Batinah (168,633 expatriates and 39,567 Omanis), Dhofar (167,068 expatriates and 12,741 Omanis), Al Dakhiliyah (66,468 expatriates and 28,130 Omanis), South Al Batinah (66,039 expatriates and 21,297 Omanis), South Al Sharqiyah (65,642 expatriates and 12,921 Omanis) and North Al Sharqiyah (63,450 expatriates and 13,557 Omanis).
Then comes Al Buraimi (39,033 expatriates and 3,931 Omanis), Al Dhahirah (30,874 expatriates and 10,891 Omanis), Al Wusta (13,164 expatriates and 1,598 Omanis) and Musandam (10,894 expatriates and 1,109 Omanis).
The statistics show that 665,679 foreigners are working in the construction sector in Oman while the number of Omanis stands at 57,464 (7.9 per cent).
The number of expatriates working in the wholesale and retail trade sector stands at 184,159 against 37,063 (16.8 per cent) nationals.
There are 181,929 non-Omanis and 23,888 Omanis in the manufacturing sector (11.6 per cent).
Meanwhile, 90,176 of those working in hotels and restaurants are expatriates and 7,582 (7.8 per cent) are Omanis.
A total of 65,573 jobs in the real estate and rental activities sector are held by foreigners and 22,561 (25.6 per cent) by locals.
As many as 33,561 foreigners are providing transport, storage and communications services while the number of locals working in this field is 14,606 (30.3 per cent).
The number of expat workers employed in the mining, quarrying and exploitation sector is 16,446 while 25,653 Omanis (60.9 per cent) are working in the same sector. A total of 34,523 expatriate workers are involved in community and personal service activities while 1,392 (3.9 per cent) are local workers.
There are 3,639 non-Omanis and 16,442 (81.9 per cent) Omanis in the financial brokerage sector, and 13,183 expatriates and 5,417 (29.1 per cent) Omanis are employed in the education sector.
There are 18,815 foreign workers and 5,510 (22.7 per cent) Omani employees working in other sectors.
The Omanisation percentage prescribed for each sector is as follows:
Private education (15-90 per cent), travel and tour