Expat worker numbers hold steady in Oman

Oman Wednesday 20/April/2016 22:14 PM
By: Times News Service
Expat worker numbers hold steady in Oman

Muscat: The number of expatriates employed in the private sector as a percentage of the total population is holding steady as Oman continues to embrace development and nationwide infrastructure projects.
Read also: Number of expats in Oman reaches 2 million
Two years ago the Minister of Manpower had announced that steps would be taken to reduce the number of expats in the private sector to 33 per cent of the total population.
Since then Oman has continued to invest in its development and so, at current figures, the number in the private sector is around 38 per cent of the country’s total population.
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The Times of Oman reported yesterday how the number of expats in Oman had slowly grown to surpass two million. But as the population has increased, those employed in the private sector as a percentage of the total has remained steady.
“We have had to maintain a certain ratio of expatriate workers in Oman. Due to the market needs, it is going up beyond our set target,” Said Salem Al Saadi, the advisor to the Minister of Manpower, said.
Blue-collar workers
“As more and more construction activities are happening in Oman, more and more blue-collar workers are coming in, which is pushing up the expatriate numbers,” the advisor added.
In 2014, Sheikh Abdullah bin Nasser Al Bakri, Minister of Manpower, had announced moves to reduce the percentage of expatriate workers in Oman’s private sector (1,478,041) from what was then 37 per cent of the total population (3,991,956) to 33 per cent.
The data from NCSI shows that, while the total number of expatriate workers in Oman in the private sector is 1,669,662 which is around 38 per cent of the Oman’s total population of 4,379,105.
“Everyone wants to maintain the ratio. But unfortunately they are not because the market demand is such so,” the advisor added. A top official from Oman Chamber of Commerce and Industry (OCCI) said that as government is carrying out many projects as part of diversifying its economy, unskilled expatriate workers are needed in large numbers.
New projects
“New development projects carried out by the government may be the reason behind the increase in number of expatriate workers,” Mohammed Al Ansi, a senior official from the OCCI, said, adding that a need for more workers in the market is still there.
Ahmed Hamoud Al Shabibi, managing director of Al Shabibi Global LLC, said an increase in expatriate workers can be seen in market.
“As many big projects are on, we can see that expatriate workers are migrating to Oman in large numbers. It is evident in market,” the managing director said, adding the number may go up again as more projects are under pipeline in Oman.
Meanwhile, Shahswar Al Balushi, the Chief Executive Officer of Oman Society for Contractors, said that workers may be coming for small projects and not major national projects.
“During the last few months no big projects have been announced. However, many small projects are happening across Oman. So, workers may be coming for those projects,” Shahswar said.
Due to global fall in oil price, Oman posted a budget deficit of 4.5 billion riyals in 2015 as revenues declined by more than 50 per cent.
As part of cushioning the oil price dip effect, Oman has chalked out plans to improve the non-oil revenues, especially focusing more on tourism and infrastructure development.