As Oman’s expat population falls, so does unemployment among locals

The expat visa ban was first introduced for six months in January 2018, but was extended later in the year. (File/Shutterstock)
Updated 05 December 2018
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As Oman’s expat population falls, so does unemployment among locals

  • Oman's expat labor force drops by more than 3% and visa ban continues
  • The largest decline in unemployment is among Oman's young

DUBAI: Unemployment among Oman’s local population has dropped since the introduction of the expat visa ban and its subsequent extensions, national daily Times of Oman reported.

There has been a 3.4 percent reduction in the expat labor force between October 2017 and 2018, with the biggest drops in the manufacturing, engineering, industrial, financial, mining and construction sectors.

The biggest decline in unemployment was for Omani citizens aged 25 to 29 where there was a drop of 13.6 percent over the last month, according to the National Center for Statistics and Information.

Meanwhile the unemployment rate for Omanis aged 30 to 34 dropped by 11 percent for, and by 7.1 per cent for those from 35 to 39-years-old.

In contrast the number of expats working in Oman dropped by 3.4 percent from 1,795,689 in December 2017 to 1,739,473 now – with the biggest drop in the construction sector, which saw a 13.69 percent reduction from nearly 651,000 in December 2016 to just under 572,600 in October 2018.

Oman Introduced an expat visa ban across various private sector industries and professions from January 2018. Initially the ban was in force for six months, but was later extended to other fields of work and for further time.

The ban is part of the country’s Omanization project aimed at tackling Oman’s high unemployment levels among its citizens.

While the scheme has led to an increase in number of Omanis working, there has been an inevitable decrease in remittances.

Recent data showed a consistent decline in four of the country’s biggest expat communities – Indians, Bangladeshis, Pakistanis, and Tanzanians.

The National Center for Statistics and Information reported a 2.8 percent drop in the number of Indian expats, 4.4 percent in Bangladeshi expats, 6.9 percent in Pakistani workers, and 8.4 percent in Tanzanian workers. Most of the expats who left Oman held white collar jobs, according to NCSI.


Australia overtakes Qatar as top global LNG exporter

Updated 17 min 37 sec ago
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Australia overtakes Qatar as top global LNG exporter

  • Australia shipped 6.79 million tons of LNG in November while Qatar exported 6.2 million tons
  • Australia has invested heavily in a number of LNG export projects over the last few years

LONDON: Australia has become the largest exporter of liquefied natural gas (LNG) in the world, overtaking Qatar for the first time, according to data published on Monday.

Australia shipped 6.79 million tons of LNG in November while Qatar exported 6.2 million tons, according to Refinitiv Eikon, the financial data arm of Thomson Reuters.

While LNG exports from Australia increased by more than 15 percent from the previous month, Qatar’s exports dropped by 3 percent.

Australia has invested heavily in a number of LNG export projects over the last few years. Just last month, the first LNG shipment left the country’s new offshore Ichthys project on the northwestern coast of Australia.

Analysts expect Australia will look to maintain its lead ahead of the Qataris.

“Competition between Qatar and Australia for the share of global LNG market is set to intensify further,” said Abhishek Kumar, senior energy analyst at Interfax Energy’s global gas analytics in London.

“Australia has boosted its market share in recent years by bringing online a slew of LNG export projects. This is in stark contrast with the situation in Qatar where the export capacity has remained around 77 million tons per annum,” he said.

Ehsan Khoman, head of regional research and strategy at MUFG, in Dubai, said Australia has an advantage over Qatar due to it being geographically closer to major gas importers.

“The lower transportation freight costs will remain the backbone of Australia comparative advantage as an exporter vis-à-vis Qatar, given the country’s closer proximity to the largest LNG importers in Asia, namely, Japan, China and South Korea,” he said.

Rising LNG exports from US will add to the global market competition, he said.

“Going forward, the LG space is likely to undergo a major transformation driven by new supplies coming from the US, with our expectation of a three-way tug of war between the US, Australia and Qatar to intensify in the medium term for global leadership among LNG exporters, notably for a larger share of the key market in Asia.”

The data follows Qatar’s announcement last week that it would leave the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries (Opec) in early 2019 to focus on gas production.

Kumar said he expects Qatar to ramp up efforts to maintain its market position as competition grows from other exporters.

“Qatar has plans to vigorously defend its market share in the coming years as it is moving ahead with expanding the capacity of its Ras Laffan plant to around 110 million tons per annum by the end of 2025 or early 2026,” he said.