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Oman extends expat ban, announces new sponsorship options

Oman was one of the GCC countries impacted the greatest by the drop in the price of oil last year. Unemployment rose to 16.9% as a result of this drop in 2017, according to Statista. Unlike the UAE and Saudi Arabia, who are in the middle of reforms and efforts to diversify their economy, Oman hasn’t still caught up.

During late October last year, the government had announced that it would begin creating 25,000 new jobs starting December. 60% of those jobs were to be created in the public sector. There would also be a push to employ nationals in the private sector.

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Then, on January 25th of this year, The Ministry of Manpower had imposed a ban on expat workers in some sectors for six-months. The ban extended to 87 occupations, in several fields such as marketing, IT, sales, and others.

“These jobs will now go to Omanis, with the decision to implement the ban to be revisited every six months,” Salim Al Hadrami, Director General of Planning and Development at Ministry of Manpower told Times of Oman.

Now, the government has decided to extend the ban for another 6 months, this time announcing new visa sponsorship rules for investors in addition. The Ministry of Manpower said the ban would be extended for a further six months from July 30, leading well into the end of the year.

The decision coincides with Omanisation plans for the country.

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The second decree will allow expats who work for a government agency to become sponsors. The decree, with the new amendments, states that a visa sponsor must either be an Omani, licensed foreign investor, or an expatriate employee of a government agency.

Gulf News reports that “reduced oil revenues led the government to introduce austerity measures in 2017 including new taxes and the halting of hiring in the public sector in order to tackle an OMR3bn ($779.1m) budget deficit.”

Now, with these latest announcements, Oman is seeking some course correction for the country’s faltering economy.

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