34k expats out in 2018 as Omanisation kicks in

Oman Sunday 08/September/2019 20:44 PM
By: Times News Service

Muscat: Ministry of Manpower data has revealed that more than 34 thousand foreign workers left Oman’s private sector industry in 2018, as the Sultanate accelerates its Omanisation policies and provides more jobs for talented locals.

34,266 expatriate workers left the country’s private sector, according to the ministry’s annual report, with the total number standing at 1,890,573, down from 1,924,839 in 2017. Ahmed Al Hooti, head of economic research at the Oman Chamber of Commerce and Industry, said the number of expat workers in the private sector would only continue to drop as Omanisation policies brought more and more locals into the workforce.

An official at the Ministry of Manpower said: “The Omanisation drive is continuing to make room for Omani job-seekers in the private sector. This is one of the reasons that led to the drop in expat workers in the country. The hiring freeze for certain jobs has also significantly contributed in employing more Omanis.”

He added: “ Some of the big projects were also completed, which meant that some expat workers left the country after that.”

“The decline in the number is definitely helping both the economy and implementing the Omanisation policy,” Al Hooti told Times of Oman. “The number of expatriates in the country is 1.7 million and with thousands of them leaving, we are now aiming to find jobs for 65,000 more Omani citizens. If you count the number of expatriate workers who have left in the first six months of 2019, you will definitely reach a higher number than that mentioned in the report”.

“In Oman, certain nationalities are nearing 700,000 members, which is a huge number and due to that, companies began facing a lot of challenges,” added Al Hooti. “However, in future, you will see more expatriates who are working in the country’s construction sector leaving, and more Omanis will be joining the service sector.”

Of the current expat workers, an overwhelming majority (1,617,914) are male. 37.5 percent are employed in construction and infrastructure, 15.4 percent are in wholesale and retail trade, 13.9 percent work in manufacturing and 7.7 percent find employment in the accommodation and food service business. A further 5.9 percent are in agriculture and fisheries, 4.9 percent are employed in admin and support services, 4.4 percent are employed by the transportation and storage sector, and 4.1 percent belong to the service sector.

The report added that 44.4 percent of all expatriate private sector workers lived and worked in the Muscat Governorate, while less than a third of that number (13.6 percent) were located in the North Al Batinah Governorate. A further 11.5 percent are employed in the southern Dhofar Governorate.

Among the expat communities, Bangladeshis form the largest section of foreign workers in the private sector (40 percent), followed by Indians (38 percent) and Pakistanis (14.5 percent).

During this time, the private sector also provided 17,234 job opportunities for Omani nationals.

Nearly 30 percent of Omani nationals found work in the construction and infrastructure sector, while another 15.4 percent were employed in the wholesale and retail trade and vehicle repair. 12 percent worked in manufacturing, 10.1 percent in transport and storage and another 6.2 percent in mining.

Speaking to Times of Oman, Faisal Al Balushi, owner of Global Continent Project garage and Faisal Travel and Tourism said that the number of expats in the country had declined, creating more job opportunities for the locals.

“I am familiar with the decline in numbers of expatriate workers in the country over the past few years,” he said. “It has to be understood that the government has taken steps towards Omanisation to ensure that locals are given the job opportunities first in their home country.

“Therefore, we all really appreciate the efforts put in as this indeed has given a lot of jobs to Omanis across the country,” added Faisal Al Balushi. “Having said that, I must also appreciate the hard work all the expat workers are putting in towards the economic growth of Oman. Each and everyone plays a vital role in shaping the economy.”