Should long-time expats be granted Omani citizenship?

For illustrative purpose only. Photo - Mohamed Alfarei via under Creative Commons License

There is a chorus of strong voices within the expatriate community clamouring for the right to be granted Omani citizenship, after having worked for many years in the country.

Perhaps, these arguments may favour expatriates who were born in Oman. They finish school at the age of 18 and seek employment right after, often staying on for three decades. Such expatriates know no other country but Oman and may only visit the country of their parents once a year.

I am not saying granting citizenship is not happening. It is, but the department of immigration and nationality grants citizenship to very few expatriates during a highly selective process that has very little transparency.  This right is supposed to be reserved for long-term business people and workers who are contributing positively to the economy of the country. You would not find it in the legislation or written as a by-law somewhere in the offices of power.   

Of course, it is only a tiny percentage of such expatriates who have been 'honoured' with the right to become Omani nationals since 1970. Obviously, the handful of expatriates privileged enough to receive an Omani passport are well connected. This clearly shows one needs to rub shoulders with the right people. It is also very obvious that citizenship is not granted to well deserving expatriates based upon the merit of their contributions, but on who is in their circle. Migrant workers make up 1.3 million from the total population of about  4 million people. Of course, roughly half of the expatriate population is performing manual labour, and the country has no intention of granting them nationality.      

Oman fiercely prides itself as indigenous, and this is the reason few foreigners find their names engraved in the red book. Critics would say if GCC countries with similar cultures and traditions are not very liberal in granting citizenship to their expatriate populations, why then should Oman? The same hardcore critics would also say Oman has limited resources and cannot afford to share these with others. However, moderates would argue differently. A clear cut law in which expatriates become eligible to apply for citizenship will help attract the best brains in the country, knowing they would have the right to stay forever, if they wish, based on their long-term contributions.

If the cream of expatriates can remain behind, it would eventually make up for the discrepancies of talents and plug holes in the workforce's knowledge and experience. Such expatriates, once granted citizenship, would wholeheartedly bury themselves in the task. The procedure can still be highly selective, but the difference is that the cards will be on the table for every expatriate to see.  Yet, this will only be meaningful following the passing of proper legislation.

You cannot blame some expatriates who feel they have been let down after serving more than their lifetime in Oman, only to be told to go home when they reach the age of retirement. After three decades, such an expatriate is faced with the unenviable task of taking his grown children back 'home'. These youngsters, by now in their twenties, knew only one home — the one they were born to. They go to a place and start all over again as strangers in their parents' birthplace.

Oman's history
If you look at the history of Oman, the country is no stranger to migration. A century ago, Omanis migrated to East Africa and were granted citizenship in those countries because of their economic contributions. East African natives were tolerant of the culture Omanis brought to them. As a result, there are many East Africans who have Omani ancestry in these countries. They live in complete harmony, to this day, with the indigenous people.

However, the ability of expatriates to fully embrace the local culture is important, when it comes to convincing legislators. Omanis did that successfully in East Africa, but it took years.

Oman may easily opt to provide passports to expatriates worthy of citizenship, with adherence to a few conditions. This should work if the conditions would strengthen the economy and create jobs.

The real test, however, will be to convince the Majlis Al Shura to recommend a law to grant citizenship to long-term expatriates who can continue to add value to the country.

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Reader Comments

Hi Saleh,
I am working in Oman for almost 30 years.
I have not tried to get citizenship of Oman,as I am not aware of rules and regulations in this case.
this is good news

its a great news...waiting for a positive response !!

This is just wishful thinking. To become an Oman citizen, one would need to go through a lother i.e. being a Muslim is a first, knowing arabic (read, write & speak) is second and then recommendations from top royal family members would be third. Even after all of that its still not certain. I have over the years seen many balush & swahali get passports but it seems they come under a different criteria for Oman and get married to Omanis to obtain the citizenship. Other than marriage it is only 1 in a million chance of anyone obtaining it. Oman will not change this rule no matter how many articles are written about it.

MASHAALLAH,, MASHAALLAH,,MASHAALLAH..... at last saleh you had be the [[1]] to speak up god bless you & the people who has thought about this matter. I, ADIL HABEEB is born & brought up in the Sultanate of Oman,, my father is in this country close to 45 years. I am close to 35 years here,,, seen & been with this great country. hope people who serve in majlis as shura will consider a subject of this concern,, and help people who actually deserves it as well as can be a right hand towards the countrys clean up procedures.

Hi Mr Saleh it is great news as i have applied for citizenship since 2005 there is no proper response from authorities influnced people are getting their passports i am since 1984 my father was since 1960

NO, NO, AND NO!! Were being taken advantage of more than enough as it is. If you like, give them residency, but to be Omani is about more than just living there for a decade or 5. Look at the Dharamseys, thieves unlike any other. & oversease they pretend to be royalty or sheikhs.

Look at the Khimjis, cunning as ever, where the Omanis (apart from themselves) that they have seriously improved on or developed.

I say no, in fact, the government should consider revoking some of the ones already given out due to its abuse.

You may consider Arab Muslims first, the ones who behave accordingly to our religion & culture, after further educating actual Omanis and making them aware, then & only then can you consider giving out passports.

At this pace, maybe in another 100 years.

Enough people damaging our country and image without the citizenship, we dont need more of them.

This is an excellent issue raised by Mr. Saleh. My dad has been employed in Oman close to 30 years now. Also I was born in Oman , so the Immigration Department must thinks about granting citizenship to all the expatriates like us- who have lived in Oman all through their life and has known Oman as their home ever since. The expatriate community do indeed have the capability in fulfilling the vision laid by His majesty Sultan Qaboos Bin Said of a modern Oman.

Great news and very well said Mr. Saleh. Lets hope things work positively!

MashaAllah, its so cool to listen such a good news, but for few unlucky expatriates its a heartbreak news because many employers within last a years are retired, and thy all r deprived from omani nationality. Hundreds of expatriates are disappointed after their retirements because thy worked hard and serve oman alot but after 2, 3, 4 decades thy are thrown like garbage out from their conutry.. Many expatrites sacrified their precious life for the betterment of sultante of oman, but what ? ,All martyred peoples generation are deprived from omani nationality. well i hope ths time it will be a really good news, plus a gospel truth also. Better luck for miserable expatriates :) . thank usir Saleh

Saleh, lets sort out our priorities first. We still have Omanis (in africa, europe , australia and america) who have been denied citizehship and yet we are think of offering others. Those omanis if allowed and encouraged will also bring positive contribution to their country. I do sympathise with foreigners who have been living in oman for many years, but how about those who have been their denied their birth rights?? according to the omani law, any omani (by origin) has the right to have omani citizenship. it shouldnt matter whether you were born in oman or in poor country (seeking to return to your native country)as long as you were born from omani parents, its within your birth right to have the omani citizen. please dont try to justify ithis because everyone knows there isnt any justification whatsoever. Despite government acknolewdging that there is a lot of Omanis in East Africa it still makes it harder for them to seek jobs or settle in the country.

Assalam Alaykum Sir Saleh It is good news for me Im almost 20 years Im only the first woman who joint for the Oman National Day since im here in Oman who was went for Oman National Masirah Day And I wish thru in Ur name i can get Oman Nationality citizenship which is i applied also before in Ministry of Dahkliya and still i didnot get response I hope thru Ur help Mr Saleh U can help to get this Oman passport Ramadhan Kareem Allah Maakum Sir Saleh

Answer is Big Yes. It is win win for both . Intellectual , professional or well settled buisessmen etc after certain coditons and after 20 years they sould be eligible for citizenship. Oman has vast resources and vast land , and these expatriates and their grown up children in oman can defnitely contribute a lot to the development of the country with devptio and sincereity. whatelse you want . they can spend their hard earned money over years inside the oman in various buisess and which can further create not oly job opportuities for nationals , but this will strengthe the country s ecomoy in long run.

Ramadan mubarak to all. Good news, Ive born and brought up in Oman. I love this country & very much intrusted to get the citizenship of Oman. Now Ive been here from the biggining and my father MashaAllah is here about 33yrs. The Oman government should give the nationality to those who have born or worked from long time in Oman. We really appreciate and I would love to get the nationality.

Good news & very well said Mr. Saleh, Looking forward the authority to implement for the good will of people and development of Oman.

Mr. Salah agreed .....
I would like to get omani pasport one day ...