Oman expatriate labour ban: Screw tightens on Oman's foreign workforce

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Muscat: Oman is getting serious on expatriate labour as the latest move to limit foreign workers adds to a raft of legislation which in recent months has tightened the screw on the Sultanate's employment market.

There has been a mixed reaction to the Royal Oman Police's announcement that expat workers who leave their jobs will not be able to return to the country for two years.

Many voices have welcomed the move but others, notably foreign workers, have expressed confusion and insecurity.

One major question remains over whether expats who get a 'no objection certificate' from the current employer can work for another sponsor.

The Times of Oman has learned that the Ministry of Manpower has not yet decided, with an official saying, "We are looking into this matter."

As the government moves to reduce the expat labour force from 39 per cent to 33 per cent, which could number in the hundreds of thousands fewer foreigners, a host of new rules have been introduced, including:

Expat workers cannot bring their spouses or children to Oman until after six months service

Hiring expats for the construction sector or domestic staff has been banned

Hiring expat women in many sectors has been banned

Raids on expat homes suspected of housing illegal immigrant will be carried out by a new joint task force of the Royal Oman Police, the Ministry of Manpower and Muscat Municipality
A cap of the number of foreigners deemed to be from 'negative nationalities' has been proposed by the Municipal Council.

The 'two-year ban' on expatriate workforce in Oman is 'positive' and definitely benefits the private sector, according to a senior official at the Oman Chamber of Commerce and Industry (OCCI).

"The decision will help the private sector as it will help minimise the number of hidden businesses that are taking advantage of the current situation," Redha Juma Mohammed Ali Al Saleh, vice-chairman for administration and finance affairs at the Oman Chamber of Commerce and Industry (OCCI), told Times of Oman.

And Chairman of General Federation of Oman Trade Unions, Nabhan Al Battashi said that this decision would help regulate the job market.

"This will also prevent expatriates shifting from one place to another which is sometimes not justified."

But Ramesh Mani, chief executive officer of Majan Glass, which employs 240 workers, said, "A professional has every right to sell his services.

"This restricts choices of companies in taking people and the companies may end up in losing," Mani said, adding; "It is not going to be a win-win situation for neither the employee nor the employer."

Column: Will the 2-year ban work in the best interests of Oman?


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Reader Comments

This is not our country. We are guests here having come to help the country in its journey of progress. We work hard and give our best and in return we are compensated by the country. It is not fair to comment on the decisions of the host and should accept with dignity and respect.

This will help only corporates. dont allow corporates to rule over oman leads the nations stability and corruption.

Lets look at the bigger picture, reducing thousands of expat workers, will it not effect the economy? 2ndly, any employee knowing that he have limited chance of growth in the country, wont be spending on accessories as they do now, he would be more interested in saving as much as possible and then leave for other destinations. This move shall throw back Oman by 10 years and 10 years back Oman didnt have City Center/Carrefore, LuLu(s), Malls and this many buildings and i am afraid that a two bedroom apartment would be available at 150-200 rials again...

most of omani needs one car ,phone,and 15 hour chatting job,,,,,,,,do u thing they will work ok suppose they work the productivity will be go down coz they spend most of their time in chatting with habibi,,,,,,,, anyway no problem at all coz we r experienced and energetic candidate we will find good destination

this is not a fair decision for foreign workers.

This ban is completely absurd and unjust to the many thousands of foreigners who have contributed to Omans development. Their reward is to be banned! Who brought the workers here and who will do the work when they leave. I have never seen an Omani labourer!
Good businesses and institutions will suffer by not being able to recruit experienced staff locally. Unscrupulous ones will exploit their workers even more.

As a Automation engineer I an expatriate welcomes it because I have walked the length and breadth of this Arabian Peninsula desert . I am not a ordinary IT professional but a programmer of many languages. I have seen Oman and its their country not our country and we have to support them because they have a GENORISITY to feed you and me. Has your country ever thought of them and their difficulties and poverty? answer us

The decision is quite irrational. This would only have a reverse affect on employers. Let us take one industry. Viz: Pharmaceutical. The validity of the license is only one year after exiting the country. A sales Exe who leaves the company will have his license cancelled within one year. The dire reality is that the person will have to write an exam again to get the license. Secondly ; A skilled person will not choose to be out of job for 2 years. This makes it more difficult for a company to find the right skill sets in an employee newly hired and end up accruing costs training the person. Thirdly; a company which has a product line will want to hire a person who has worked and understands the Oman market well. Again the company will face problems to find the right person with the necessary advantages. UAE is an expat friendly country and have thrived at it. This decision only creates a greater divide between the Nationals and expat community. The authorities should work towards creating new jobs and new business instead of terminating and replacing.

The decision is quite irrational. Firstly no survey has been projected on labour turnover. This decision could only have a reverse reaction on the Employer. Let us consider one industry viz: Pharmaceutical. A Sales Exe who is banned to join another company will face a dire consequence of loosing his license. The license is valid only for an year after exit which makes the person reappear for an exam to get the license each time he leaves a company. Secondly a skilled person will not choose to be out of employment for 2 years, which makes it difficult for a company to hire skilled people. Thirdly most companies who have clientel in Oman will choose to hire an person who understands the market well. It would be only difficult to get the right person. UAE is an expat friendly country and the economy strives at it. These kind of decision only creates a greater divide between the nationals and expats. The authorities should work towards creating new jobs and business for nationals instead of terminating and capping existing expat workers.

If this is to prevent absconding people coming back to the country, I doubt that this is the most appropriate measure.
If the intent is to reduce job hopping and thus help the employers, is it not more effective to impose minimum two years working in a company before a job shift can be permitted!

Oman is going on a way where other GCCs are trying to abolish such systems. Curbs should on expat work period limitation not job option. To provide Omanis opportunity the min % of Omanis should increase from 30 % to 60% rather putting bottle necks for Expats. There should also be exceptions for Professionals who are degree qualified. Qualification verification should also be streamlined where unqualified expats sit on qualified posts .

Can anyone post a simple no objection certificate? I have tried to look for one and cant find any samples?
Thank you!

the govt should think many times on this issue. its not a simple issue. :(

This law is not favorable for the employees because it snatches the right to move for better opportunity... Still some aspects are unclear in this law !!

I recently joined in a company in Oman and my contract mentions about my family joining for my wife.And my salary meets the requirement as stated by ministry.Will I e able to apply for her visa now ir should I wait for another 6 months.Kindly confirm as per the present laws of land.