‘Illegal’ home businesses spark anger in Oman

Business Wednesday 18/May/2016 21:09 PM
By: Times News Service
‘Illegal’ home businesses spark anger in Oman

Muscat: Expat wives, who operate small businesses from home, could soon be on the radar of the Royal Oman Police (ROP), after online complaints about their illegal trade surfaced.
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The expats, who are in the country on their spouses’ company visas, are not allowed to work, but many have started online cake baking businesses and other small-scale enterprises.
Speaking to the Times of Oman (TOO), an ROP official said they acted whenever they received a complaint of anyone working in such an illegal manner.
“The ROP has formed a joint team with the Ministry of Manpower, which takes action against the violators. They may arrest them, which might lead to deportation, a jail sentence or a fine,” he stated.
The official added that an expat found to be working without a licence on a family visa is violating the Law on Residency of Foreigners. “They are not allowed to work on a family visa,” he pointed out.
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Oman Chamber of Commerce and Industries’ Member, Ahmed Al Hooti backed such calls saying, “The expats running such illegal businesses should stop.”
“Such food stuff is a potential health risk and unhygienic,” he added. The issue arose on a social media site recently when the owner of a baking outlet reported the “illegal” baking business.
Local entrepreneur Nada Al Moosa, who runs a cake business in Oman, said: “If you put up a post saying you want a customised cake or something, you will definitely get about 10 to 15 responses of people sharing their links and telling you that you can contact them to get your cake baked.”
“So, everyone is trying to make a buck in this very struggling market, but honestly it’s illegal and unethical competition,” Al Moosa said.
She pointed out that some people, sitting in the comfort of their homes, were saving money on costs and staff and using sub-standard material to take part of her “share in the market.”
“It is illegal; there are no health and safety regulation, whereas we have to pay taxes. 12 per cent of our profits go to the government,” she said.
Al Moosa further said that such businesses are illegally operated by expat women visiting Oman on spouse-sponsored visas.
However, there are others who feel that such practices are difficult to halt.
“Practically, it’s impossible to stop an online business in Oman,” Anvwar Al Balushi, chairman of Anwar Asian Investment Group told TOO.
“How can we stop it? Not only expatriate women, we know many Omani college girls who are involved in the online sales business. I don’t see this threatening small and medium enterprises in Oman.”
Mohammad Al Farji, a top member of the Oman Trade Union, said not everyone will have enough money to start a business with a shop or they may be afraid of risking their investments.
“It’s happening all over the world. It can’t be stopped,” he said.