Oman expatriate labour ban: Important step to meet employment needs

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Muscat: The latest decision of the government to enforce a two-year ban on expatriates from returning to employment is a vital  measure to address demographic problem to reduce the number of foreigners in the country rather than to balance the Sultanate's employment's needs, according to labour experts.

Expatriate workers cannot sign another contract if they have not completed two years in the previous employment. They would need to wait for two years to come back and work for another employer.

Previously, the government slapped a six-month ban on cleaners and construction labourers from changing employers and the law to stop the recruitment of women expatriates was enacted a year before that. The series of crackdown on expatriates in the last two years included discouraging the parents of expatriates from visiting the country and raids in offices to look for illegal workers.    

The government's decisions are about ensuring that the Omani population is not diluted by expatriates, said Dr Khalil Al Ansari, a visiting researcher from Saudi Arabia's Centre of Demographic Society, told Times of Oman.

"It is not about productivity in the private sector or job creation for nationals but a demographic problem."

In 2012, the Ministry of Manpower announced that the country wanted to reduce the proportion of expatriates in the private sector from 40 per cent to 33 per cent. Omani citizens constitute 55 per cent of the population, while expatriates make up the rest. Of the nearly 1.76 million expatriates, 1.53 million are employees. The rest are their family members, according to the National Centre for Statistics and Information.

"This statistics is the proof the government would take all measures from this point onwards to make sure that the expatriate population does not increase to uncontrollable level as we see in the United Arab Emirates or Kuwait," Saif Al Mahrooqi, a retired statistician for the ex-Ministry of Economy and Finance, said.

An internal old memo obtained by Times of Oman in the Manpower Ministry clearly highlights the importance of restricting "uncontrolled" employment of expatriates in the country as a demographic issue.

"The demographic problem is a major issue and it was first discussed in 2000 but it was shelved. New directors who have been employed by the manpower ministry are now bringing it back in the discussion table but this time it seems there is a serious commitment to cut down the number of expatriates in Oman,"  a ministry of manpower official, who did not want to be identified because he is not authorised to speak to the media, told Times of Oman.

But business owners and company executives welcome the two-year visa restriction on expatriates saying the move will provide stability and increased productivity in the private sector.

"I welcome the rule and I think it is going to be a positive move for the continuity of the operations of many companies in Oman. Employees can contribute much more effectively if they show commitment than jumping around from one company to another," Rajendra Prasad, general manager of Nabhan Investments Company, told Times of Oman.

To get in touch with the reporter

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


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Reader Comments

If i complete my two year in my previous visa can i join another company?? if this rule happens many expats refuse to come to Oman

Pls advise me.. can v put resign before July 1st and can v come after July 1st in any other organisation. .. presently I have an opportunity. .. but very much afraid of 2 years ban..will it effect me or not... pls advice...

I came from Riyadh, Saudi completed my 2 years contract then flew Direct here to Muscat now working on this new Job. - There are very bad employers some Black mail girls who really need a job to support their families specially single parents. The Law should just not apply this automatically! It depends on the situation there are a lot of Rape & Sexual Abuse here in Middle East EXPLOITING WOMEN TO KEEP THEIR JOB. And 60% of these women just keep quite because they need the job or do not have the financial means to go through labor court process that takes months or even years to resolve even with the help of that expats Embassy/Consulate. Well in Oman is 2 Years Entry Ban, In Saudi its 5 Years Ban. If You get 2 immigration or Labor Ban from any GULF State you can never enter Middle east again.

im still agree in the previous law, majority in the private company didnt follow their contract to the employee, too abusive to the workers when it comes to number of hours of work overtime without pay, bad accomodation, late salary, this is only basic and common sentiments of workers where they decide to cancel their now my brother work behind his time required but no overtime fee as well as less staff, their employer promise to increase their salary but until now nothing happen.

i like oman because my father is omani national

I like oman .because my father is omani national.

This is confusing...PLEASE CLARIFY !!!

//Expatriate workers cannot sign another contract if they have not completed two years in the previous employment. They would need to wait for two years to come back and work for another employer.//

This new rule is really confusing , this to cut down the number of expatriates in Oman
Or -increased productivity in the private sector.

I wonder how many times Mr Rajendar Prasad of Nabhan Investments Company has changes jobs...sounds like a big idiot to me

Many companies will start threatening the employees saying that, " you will be banned entry ...if you do not perform ( even perform also they will say) or resist to late stay or refuse to work for long hrs or work during Saturdays ) or festive days or declined to listen the will and wish of the Employer or Top Bosses ! Who will look in to or hear the grievances of such employees and resolve ? How many will have the guts to approach ROP or labor ministries....? is it possible ? This rule is completely favoring Employer..... not also 100 % thought process is not given !!

really confusing...

This is confusing! What is you completed 2 years from your previous employer are u still ban from entering in the Sultanate for 2 years. Why is it now applies only to those who did not completed 2 years.. Clarification please!