65 per cent drop in Indian migrants to Oman
January 13, 2019 | 10:25 PM
by Times News Service
North India is sending more emigrants to Oman amid decline in expat numbers from Kerala

Muscat: As the number of Indian expats drops by more than 60 per cent in Oman, the demographics of the Indian community in Oman are changing, data from the Indian Ministry of External Affairs has revealed.

2019 01 14 Top Sources of Indian Migrants 02

The number of Indians coming to Oman for work using the e-migrate portal has dwindled significantly since 2010, when 105,513 Indian workers came to Oman, compared to just 36,037 in 2018, reflecting a drop of 65.84 per cent during that time, as the local government begins to step up its policies of Omanisation to integrate locals into the workforce and wean the country off of expat labour. Similar programmes have also been instituted in the other GCC countries.

Uttar Pradesh (UP) is now the state that has sent the maximum number of Indian migrants to Oman and the rest of the GCC countries over the past five years. Earlier, most of them hailed from Kerala.

“The Indian community has been present in Oman for a long time. Enjoying the warm hospitality of the Government and people of Oman under visionary leadership of His Majesty Sultan Qaboos bin Said, the Indian community has grown in size and prospered. Indians in Oman are engaged in diverse professions, including as businessmen, doctors, engineers, accountants, lecturers/teachers, nurses, managers, etc,” said Munu Mahawar, India’s Ambassador to Oman.

“Through their talents and hard-work, Indians have contributed to the progress of various sectors of Oman’s economy such as health, manufacturing, logistics, education and training, etc,” he said.

“The peaceful, law-abiding and culturally vibrant Indian community in Oman has also played a key role in strengthening of India-Oman relations,” he added.

“The Embassy remains committed to cater to the needs of Indian community in Oman, including by providing consular and community welfare services. In this regard, we work closely with the Government of Oman and appreciate the cooperation and support that we have been receiving. The Embassy will also continue to work towards strengthening of Diaspora’s linkage with India,” the Indian ambassador added.

In 2010, 18,464 Indians came to Oman from Kerala, compared to 15,896 from Uttar Pradesh.

Data on the e-migrate portal, which logs the number of Indians who work across 18 countries, shows that Uttar Pradesh, Bihar, Rajasthan, Kerala and Tamil Nadu were the top five Indian states that sent the maximum number of Indian expat workers using the e-migrate portal to the GCC countries – Saudi Arabia, Oman, Bahrain, Kuwait, Qatar and the United Arab Emirates.

Between 2014 and 2018, 67,950 Indian workers came from Uttar Pradesh, the state from which the maximum number of Indian migrants came to Oman, followed by Bihar, which ranked second until 2017, and before overtaking UP last year.

A total of 47,016 Indian migrants came to Oman from Bihar, with a further 31,802 from Tamil Nadu, 27,522 from Kerala and 20,989 from Rajasthan.

However, Rathish Kalembath, the convenor of the Kerala Wing of the Indian Social Club, said Indians would continue to play a significant role in helping locals in Oman get the best out of their resources.

“Indians have been working alongside the Omani population for many decades now,” he told Times of Oman.

“We have been working across many sectors in the country, whether it is education, finance, medicine, and so many other fields. You see so many Indian doctors and nurses in hospitals today, you see so many teachers in schools and universities, and you see many Indian auditors and accountants in offices, to name just a few of the fields Indians have worked in. There are also many Indians who work in the construction sector and have done a lot towards contributing to Oman; so whichever field you may look at in the country, Indians have contributed.”

“There are a lot of members from the Keralite community that are employed here,” added Kalembath.

“You get many Keralite businessmen who make full use of the opportunities available to them here in Oman to add to the economy, and they have done quite well. I think the best example of cooperation between India and Oman is the significant number of businessmen who are now naturalised Omani citizens, thanks to the assistance they provided Oman in helping the country grow and develop. I would like to thank our Omani hosts for giving us this chance to work and contribute towards the development of our country.”

Expat residents from these states who lived in Oman also shared their thoughts on living in Oman, though some said it might be time for them to go back.

Great place to live

“There is no doubt that Oman is a great place to live,” said Sudarshan Kumar, who worked as an accountant.

“This is like home to us, but we must realise that our time here is limited, just like it would be in any other overseas country. Earlier, I used to have around three or four Indian colleagues with me, and we used to go out for lunch together, hang out together, but now my company is slowly phasing out expat labour and replacing them with Omanis. This is only natural, though, because the government has to look after its own people, and it is what it is.”

Ahmed Bilal, who worked as a telecom engineer in the country, added, “The work is hard, but the people are hardworking as well. To be honest, there is no room for complaining in our company from either the Omanis or the expats, because all of us are here to work. When we work with our Omani colleagues, there is no distinction as to where we are from, maybe with the exception of the clothes we wear. I am currently stationed in Duqm to help with the construction here, and I have learnt so many skills in Oman that will benefit me in my career. You also learn a lot after interacting with the people here.”

External Affairs

The same was reflected in a statement from the Ministry of External Affairs in India, which said, “India and Oman have expanded their bilateral cooperation and exchanges since the establishment of diplomatic relations in 1955, forging a mutually beneficial strategic partnership. India-Oman bilateral relations are anchored in their shared interests, mutual understanding and respect for each other’s priorities, concerns and sensitivities. Regular high-level visits and exchanges have been a key feature of this relationship. Visits at the highest level have been exchanged frequently between India and Oman.”

“Key bilateral agreements/MoUs between India and Oman cover cooperation in health, tourism, defence, peaceful uses of outer space, visa exemption for holders of diplomatic/official/special passports, legal and judicial cooperation in criminal matters, extradition, legal and judicial cooperation in civil and commercial matters, agriculture, civil aviation, avoidance of double taxation, standards and measures, manpower, maritime issues, joint investment funds and cultural cooperation,” added the ministry. “There is also institution-to-institution-based cooperation between the two countries.”

“India and Oman have close cultural relations. Omanis are familiar with Indian culture on account of millennia old people-to-people exchange, presence of a large Indian community in Oman and the geographical proximity,” added the Ministry of External Affairs.

“Thousands of Indians are working as doctors, engineers, chartered accountants, teachers, lecturers, nurses and managers. There are around 20 Indian schools offering the CBSE syllabus catering to the educational needs of over 46,000 Indian children.”

According to data from the country’s National Centre for Statistics and Information (NCSI), there are 662,360 Indian workers in the country, making it the largest expat community in Oman. Of them, 48,223 are women and 614,137 are men. The largest number of expat workers is in the construction sector (570,730), followed by the wholesale and retail (235,100), manufacturing (208,267) and food and hospitality (118,317) sectors.

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