x Abu Dhabi, UAEThursday 18 January 2018

Protests planned in Oman over failure to act on jobs pledge

Organisers claim the 50,000 civil service posts promised by the Omani government are still to be created.

MUSCAT // Protest organisers in Oman were planning demonstrations outside the civil service offices in the capital yesterday, claiming the government has failed to fulfil its promise to create tens of thousands of jobs.

Civil service officials have said at least 44,000 jobs had been created after Sultan Qaboos bin Said ordered the government to create 50,000 positions to quell protests that swept across country, leaving at least two people dead.

The protesters demanded higher wages and more jobs as well as social and political reforms.

However, protesters said yesterday that they doubted that many jobs had been created and question whether the government will ever make good on its promise.

"Where is the proof these thousands of jobs have been created and given?

"But I can give you the proof of many of us who risked being beaten up by police and possible arrests during protests and we are still waiting," Said al Qassimi, 24, a protest organiser, said in a phone interview.

Others said they were planning a demonstration outside the civil service government offices in Muscat to demand answers about why not enough jobs have been offered.protests at civil

"We will march in front of the ministries to remind the government that they cannot just get away with the creation of a few thousand jobs. They need to fulfil their promise," Khamis al Mugaini, 22, another organiser.

He said he was using text messages and the internet to call on people to demonstrate on Saturday at government offices in Al Khuwair in the capital.

Oman does not keep track of its unemployment rate.

A member of a committee tasked with job creations, who did not want to be named, said yesterday that the government was having trouble filling the positions because some of the applicants refused the work when offered jobs.

He also said some of the jobs were taken by people who left private employment to get the more lucrative government jobs.

"They have been some complications created by some job-seekers. We have some who would not accept jobs in places such as the armed forces, retail and manufacturing sectors.

"We have also some who resigned from the private sector who want higher salary jobs in the government.

"Both categories put a burden on our job creation efforts."

Protesters continue to hold sit-ins in front of the Shur Council and other government buildings, but they are much fewer in number since the protest began in February.

The biggest protests are held in Salalah, where people have demonstrated every Friday outside the office of the governor for the last two months demanding the end of corruption by government officials.