Not even the historic significance and contributions of expat workers in the country can challenge the new nationalisation programme, which aims to bring in more Omani workers into the workforce to help the sultanate’s challenged social system and economic performance.
As several countries in the Middle East have already imposed its nationalization scheme, many foreign nationals who have long been eyeing employment in the Gulf region, and even those who have already been in the workforce, are experiencing a major shift from being stably employed to permanently out of place across various industries wherein they have already earned their keep throughout the years.
Expat Health Workers in Oman Replaced by Citizens by the Thousands
In line with this, around 3,000 expats employed in Oman’s health sector were replaced in 2018 as the on-going Omanization project aimed at reducing unemployment levels among the country’s nationals pushes through, as shared in a report by the Arab News.
From 2015 to 2019, around 2,869 foreign nationals were replaced by Omanis, pushing the proportion of locals working within the Ministry of Health to 39,220 – which is now at 71 percent of the total workforce by the end of last year – according to Ministry of Health figures.
In January 2018, the Sultanate introduced a six-month visa ban across certain professions, and there have been a number of extensions to the ban since then and it has also been expanded to cover other industries and professions.
As a result, tens of thousands of Omanis have found work since the ban was brought in.
However, looking at history, Gulf countries have long been dependent on expatriate workers to power their economies.
In 2013, a survey revealed that up to 71 percent of Oman’s labour force were foreign-nationals.
Furthermore, labour estimates revealed that in Qatar, the expatriate workforce was as high as 95 percent, in the UAE it was 94 percent; 83 percent in Kuwait; 64 percent in Bahrain; and 49 percent in Saudi Arabia.
However, due to the challenges brought by the oil crisis that has hit the region in recent years, the ballooning cost of social services among unemployed nationals simply cannot sustain economies that apparently give out more than what they receive, thus, the nationalisation programme came to be.
These programmes aim to absorb more of their citizens into the workforce, slashing the high levels of unemployment, and creating an environment, where nationals are capable of producing money through their own efforts, as well, and not only through their dependence from their governments.