Oman has issued a six-month ban on the issuance of work visas for expatriates in ten sectors, including information systems, engineering, aviation and certain technical professions.
Sheikh Abdullah bin Nasser Al Bakri, the sultanate’s Minister of Manpower, issued the new regulation, which will begin with immediate effect.
According to Fabio Scacciavillani, chief economist at Oman Investment Fund, who was quoted by the Times of Oman, the move is part of a strategy to “Omanise” the labour market and is designed to encourage the private sector to hire for these skilled roles from within the country.
“It is a way to make companies put in more effort to look for Omani professionals as sometimes they don’t do enough to look for Omanis. This may be due to a bias they have for hiring expat workers,” he said.
“This is a period that is long enough to hire Omanis for whatever positions and after this they can analyse whether they have had the desired effect of this ruling. It will also help identify mismatch or gaps in the labour market.”
Over the last decade, the expat workforce in Oman has almost tripled, according to Oman’s National Centre for Statistics and Information. It has risen from 660,950 in 2007 to 1,825,603 people in 2016.
The complete list of sectors covered by the temporary ban is: information systems, sales, marketing, administration, human resources, insurance, media, airports, engineering and technical professions.
The decree does not include companies owned by employers wholly devoted to management of their establishments which are registered with the Public Authority for Small and Medium Enterprises Development and insured with the Public Authority for Social Insurance (PASI).