Oman to axe 100,000 expat jobs
More than 100,000 expatriate jobs will go to Omani nationals as the country moves to reduce unemployment.
The percentage of foreign employment in the country’s private sector will decline from 39 per cent to 33 per cent, the Oman News Agency said yesterday.
“Intensified efforts were made last year by the government to regularise the labour market, update its legislations and provide job opportunities for citizens to enhance their contribution to the development process,” the minister of manpower, Sheikh Abdullah bin Nasser Al Bakri, said on Monday.
Oman, the second smallest economy in the Arabian Gulf, is expected to record growth of 4 per cent compounded annually from 2011 to 2016, according to forecasts by the IMF.
In 2011, the country was hit by a wave of protests calling for political reforms. The government responded by promising the creation of thousands of jobs and employment benefits. The protests hit the country’s industrial sector, with locals demanding higher wages at the state-run Oman Air and Oman Tel.
The number of non-nationals employed in Oman stands at 692,867. The figure is expected to drop to 586,272 once the labour policy programme is completed. The ministry did not provide a deadline for the private sector to comply with new labour requirements.
Oman has been regularising its manpower and increasing its local workforce for some time, said Kanaga Sundar, the head of research at Gulf Baader Capital Markets in Muscat.
“In the long run it’s good for the system because you have a number of people coming out of education, it’s good for the economy and allowing opportunities for the young locals,” he said.
Oman’s nationalisation programme reflects a wider trend in the Arabian Gulf region, where governments and private sector entities are prioritising jobs for citizens.
In the UAE, Emiratisation policies were ranked top of the list for the ministry of labour, the ministry’s undersecretary said last month.
The Dubai-listed Arabtec earlier this month announced it was creating 10,000 new jobs aimed at Emiratis.In October, the Dubai-listed Emaar Properties said it hoped to create 45,000 new jobs for locals from its debut project in the Kurdish region of Iraq, the US$3 billion Downtown Erbil Development.
Similarly, Saudi Arabia has imposed a policy of sanctioning fines on companies that hire more foreign workers than nationals. The plan is aimed at reducing unemployment, which reached 12.2 per cent in 2012 with more than 588,000 jobless Saudis out of the 4.8 million nationals who are eligible to work.
Updated: February 18, 2014 04:00 AM