Muscat: Omanis are starting up more and more home businesses, which could lead to an employment bonanza for expats in the future. The number of home businesses registered has almost doubled in a year as the economy diversifies away from oil and gas.
It’s good news for citizens - who are allowed to launch home businesses for as little as OMR3 a year - and expats can also benefit if the businesses expand.
Currently, expats are not allowed to operate businesses from home, but can be employed by Omanis if the business model
is a success.
The latest statistics mean Oman’s economy is moving away from its traditional dependence on oil and gas and young Omanis are branching out into other fields - a boon for expats looking to work in other sectors in the future.
The Ministry of Commerce and Industry (MoCI) recorded 4,504 businesses in 2017, an increase of 1,899 as against the previous year or a 73 per cent year-on-year increase.
The Royal Oman Police has a joint team with the Ministry of Manpower, which takes action against violators. They may arrest them, which might lead to deportation, a jail sentence or a fine.
An expat working without a licence on a family visa is violating the Law on Residency of Foreigners. An official from the Ministry of Commerce and Industry said in a statement: “Home businesses can be practiced by Omani citizens only. These small enterprises can boost the income of the practitioners and prepare citizens to expand by opening shops, small and medium enterprises, in the future, which will contribute to the national economy.”
The official added: “Commercial registration of home business helps to maintain inventory and identify owners, enabling government agencies to support owners with the necessary legislation to enable them to develop their businesses to be successful projects in the future.”
The fee to commercially register a home business is only OMR3 for three years. “Allowing citizens to do business from home gives them many advantages, such as the low cost of the project. Rent, electricity, the salaries of employees, and many other expenses will be lower for home businesses,” said an official from the Ministry.
According to the MoCI statement: “Commercial registration is not binding on house business owners, but it is preferable to frame a business in the legal framework, either as a domestic business, a hawker, an institution or a trading company.”
The Ministry said home businesses should document their activities through commercial registration in order to build credibility with the customer.
Atheer Tabook is a 25-year-old Omani girl who has founded her own home business, Lubaniah, that makes natural wellness products. She has combined traditional Dhofari frankincense with the knowledge gained through her university studies to produce soap.
“I started my home business in August 2017. Working from home helped me devote more time to my project and develop my skills in marketing, financial management, and to build more social networks,” said Tabook.
“When I started my project, I did not have any knowledge in the world of business and entrepreneurship but through exhibitions, meetings and training courses I learned how to deal with customers and manage and develop the project. The home business registry helps novice traders in the world of commerce to start legally without incurring any other costs such as taxes, rent and employee salaries, which may cost up to OMR10,000.
“Starting a project from home helped me increase my trust in myself and my products over time. And all of what I earn from products I invest in product manufacturing and development,” she said.
Some expats, however, felt they should also be allowed to start home businesses. “It would have been better if we were also included,” said S Bhuyian, who has been living in the Sultanate for 30 years.
A group of girls — Siham, Moza, Inas, and Nafja — nevertheless has home bussnise called Ayady Herafiya, they are weaving palm frond to produces a number of products, such as food storage boxes, dishes of sweets, handbags, luggage bags for trips, medals, bookmarks, baskets of perfumes, and makeup organisers.
“Home business has many advantages and the team aspires in the future to open the shop for the project, which helps us to adhere to working hours and produce more,” Moza Al Rashdi member in Ayady Herafiya project said.