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Oman to face further expat exodus after new hiring fees, Omanization efforts

Omanization, high hiring fees for expats, and even vaccine restrictions for work permit issuances are combining to increase the rate at which foreign workers are leaving the country

The number of expatriate workers in various sectors in Oman decreased by 10.3% Nearly a sixth of Oman’s expatriate workers left the country in the first 11 months of 2020 Residency permits for expats will be conditional on obtaining at least one dose of the vaccine

Omanization, high hiring fees for expats, and even vaccine restrictions for work permit issuances are combining to increase the rate at which foreign workers are leaving the country.

The number of jobs provided to Omani citizens reached 2,847 by the end of H1, 2021.

These included 1,965 jobs in the Ministry of Health, 175 jobs in the Ministry of Higher Education, Scientific Research and Innovation, 292 jobs at the University of Technology and Applied Sciences, 348 jobs in the Ministry of Education, 38 jobs in the Ministry of Information, 26 jobs in the Ministry of Housing and Urban Planning, and 3 jobs in Ministry of Agricultural Wealth, Fisheries and Water Resources.

Meanwhile, the number of expatriate workers in various sectors in Oman decreased by 10.3% to 1.4 million at the end of last July, the National Centre for Statistics and Information revealed.

According to the data, 1.1 million foreigners work in the private sector, 39,000 workers in the government sector, and 241,000 in the domestic sector.

According to the data, most of the expatriate workers in the Sultanate are of Bangladeshi nationality, with 528,000, then Indians with 465,000, and Pakistanis with 179,000.

Most of them are concentrated in the Governorate of Muscat, with 582,000 workers, then North Al Batinah, with 194,000 workers, and 158,000 workers in Dhofar.

Expatriate hiring and renewal fees for small and medium enterprises (SMEs) in Oman have been significantly altered for both blue-collar and white-collar workers, the Ministry of Manpower recently announced.

Under the new regulations, issuing or renewing a work permit for an expat will now cost OMR301 ($782), while SMEs need to shell out OMR141 ($366) each to recruit one to three domestic workers or those of a similar skill set. However, once a fourth domestic or similarly skilled worker is required, that price goes up to OMR241 ($626).

Procedures for changing a worker’s information, as well as those related to the switching of employers, will cost OMR5 each ($13).

These updated costs will replace Article 2 of Ministerial Resolution No. 340/2016.  

The Ministry of Manpower had issued new recruitment fees for expatriate workers, as follows:

OMR2,001 ($5198) to recruit expats in top positions with salaries of over OMR4,000 ($10,390), OMR1,001 ($2,600) to recruit expats in mid-level positions with salaries between OMR2,500 and OMR3,999 ($6494- $10,388), and OMR601 ($1561) to employ an expat in a specialized and technical profession.

Expats leaving Oman

Nearly a sixth of Oman’s expatriate workers left the country in the first 11 months of 2020, after losing their jobs because of the pandemic, the Times of Oman reported, citing government figures.

The National Centre for Statistics and Information calculated that 272,126 foreign workers departed, leaving the non-Omani workforce at 1.4 million. Most were from Nepal, Uganda, India, Pakistan, Bangladesh and Egypt.

Teachers being replaced

Oman plans to replace over 2,700 expatriate teachers with nationals in the latest Omanization move.

The Ministry of Education said 2,733 Omanis will replace foreign teachers after completing relevant teaching exams.

Times of Oman quoted an official at the Ministry of Education saying: “The number of teacher appointments made will continue to increase, up to the beginning of the new academic year, as there are replacements that need to be made in many specialized areas of teaching.”

Vaccine restrictions

The Supreme Committee to deal with Covid-19 in Oman stated that residency permits for expats will be conditional on obtaining at least one dose of the vaccine while two doses of vaccine will be mandatory starting October 1, 2021.