65,000 expats left Oman in a year
July 16, 2019 | 9:19 PM
by Times News Service

Muscat: Over 65,000 expatriates have left Oman between May 2018 and May 2019, as the government continues to move forward with its policies on Omanisation.

According to data from the National Centre for Statistics and Information (NCSI), the total number of expatriates living in Oman decreased by 65,397 between May 2018 and May 2019, dropping to just 2,017,432.

Oman’s expatriate workforce has also fallen, from 1,854,880 people in May 2018 to 1,787,447 this year.

During the same period, the number of Omanis increased to 2,649,857 from 2,575,132, pointing to a population increase of 74,725 locals.

The country’s Omanisation policy was given further momentum after a visa ban on expat hiring was imposed over 87 job roles on January 28, 2018 for an initial six months.

That was then extended in July 2018 and again in February 2019. The Ministry of Manpower had made plans to provide 25,000 jobs to Omani jobseekers and that target was met within the first six months of the ban. As of the end of 2018, Oman’s private sector had provided more than 40,000 jobs to local jobseekers with a further 27,000 Omanis hired in the private sector between January and May 2019.

Rental prices

The departure of many expatriates from Oman in the last twelve months has seen a drop in rental prices, and renters say that while there is an adequate supply of homes, the demand from tenants is not as high as it used to be.

Hassan Al Ruqeishi, Head of the Real Estate Development Committee at the Oman Chamber of Commerce and Industry, recently said: “There has been a significant drop in rental prices both in and around Muscat because of the high supply and low demand.”

“The drop is as much as 60 per cent in places such as Al Maabela and Al Amerat and 40 per cent in Mawelah,” added Al Ruqeishi, who also owns Al Ruqeishi Properties.

Homeowners in the Sultanate agreed that they had been experiencing drops in rental prices. “I own four small properties in Muscat and rents have been falling a lot over the last year. It can be really difficult because the expats move out of the country, and then it becomes hard to find someone else who wants to move in, so we are forced to lower the rent”, a local landlord told Times of Oman.

She added that some expatriate renters preferred to live in certain areas of Muscat and other cities, which meant landlords in these areas competed against each other to fill their bookings. “Some people, however, would rather keep the rent high and let the property lie empty for a while rather than lowering the rent,” she said.

According to NCSI data, the sector which showed the largest drop in expat numbers was construction , followed by agriculture, fisheries and forestry. Reductions were also seen in the mining and quarrying, electricity and gas, transport and storage, and the financial and insurance sectors.

Conversely, the manufacturing, accommodation and food service, and transport sectors saw the highest number of Omanis enter the workforce, as did jobs that concerned administrative activities, real estate, health and social work and professional and scientific activities.

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