Surge in expat numbers prompted six-month visa ban
February 10, 2018 | 10:24 PM
by Times News Service
With visa ban, the expat population will fall.

Muscat: A surge in the number of expatriate workers in 87 occupations has forced the Ministry of Manpower (MoM) to stop issuing visas for six months, a senior MoM official said.

Speaking to the Times of Oman, Salim Al Hadrami, Director General of Planning and Development at MoM, said, “The provisional decision to ban licences for recruiting non-Omani manpower for 87 occupations is meant to regulate the labour market and provide more job opportunities to citizens.”

A six-month ban on expat workers in certain sectors was imposed by the MoM from January 25, 2018. The decision came into effect following a ministerial decree issued by Abdullah bin Nasser Al Bakri, Minister of Manpower, on January 24, 2018. Sectors affected by the ban include IT, media, air traffic, engineering, accounting and finance, technicians, insurance, marketing and sales, administration, and HR.

Al Hadrami said these jobs will now go to Omanis. “The decision was taken to study the labour market status and to assess and review the decision every six months,” he said. With this decision, experts believe the expat population will continue to fall. Ahmed Sharaf, an expat in Oman, said: “We are expecting a huge drop in the expat population due to the visa ban. Omanis are expected to fill these jobs and they should be able to fill most of these positions as several educated Omanis were unable to find jobs. Now, they can be more visible for firms and this will help.”

The government has pledged 25,000 jobs to Omanis by the first half of this year and several of these jobs have already been created by private sector companies.

Omani national Ahmed Al Balushi, however, said: “The falling expat population is not always good for the economy as Oman needs talented individuals. At the moment, the Omani workforce needs to learn and gather experience from such individuals so they can run critical infrastructure in the future.”

Between November and December 2017, the expat population in Oman declined in eight of the 11 governorates, according to figures released by the NCSI.

New data indicated that the number of expatriates declined by 0.08 per cent overall, with the governorate of Muscat incurring the largest month-to-month loss with more than 9,808 expats leaving from November to December 2017.

In November 2017, the total number of expats living in Muscat stood at 955,455, which fell to 948,342 by the end of the year.

In Dhofar, the number of expats followed a similar downward trend, falling from 248,628 to 247,010 during the same period. Declines were also recorded in the Governorates of Al Batinah South, Al Buraimi, Musandam, Sharqiyah South, Sharqiyah North and Al Wusta.

The Governorates of Ad Dakhiliyah, Al Batinah North, and Adh Dhahirah, on the other hand, recorded an increase in the number of expats during the time.

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