DUBAI: Oman’s government have announced plans to extend the ban on issuing visas to expats wanting to work in the country, national daily Times of Oman reported.
There has been a ban on issuing employment visas in 87 professions since January 2018, which was initially in place for six months, but was later extended.
Now Oman’s Ministry of Manpower has extended the ban to include purchase and sales representatives and workers in the construction, cleaning, and workshop sectors from Dec. 1, 2018.
The existing ban, which was extended in July, already covers a number of industries including media, engineering, accounting and finance, IT, insurance, technicians, administration and HR.
Ministry decision number 487/2018, states: “Permits for non-Omani manpower will cease to be released for the next six months for the following professions: sales representative/promoter, purchase representative. permits for the replacement of existing employees will continue to be released.
“This law will apply to all private establishments, replacing the earlier decision. Finally, this law will apply starting from November 30.”
In June reports showed Oman’s expat population had dropped 2 percent in the first five months of the ban – that’s 43,000 fewer expats than the same time for the previous year.
The aim of the visa ban is to help reduce unemployment among Omanis, but some business people fear it might discourage start-ups in these fields of work.
Saif Al Badi, head of the Oman Chamber of Commerce and Industry’s Al Dhairah Governorate headquarters told the Times of Oman: “We were hoping the visa ban for these jobs would be halted or opened for a temporary period but the decision is exactly the opposite and that will not attract entrepreneurs to start businesses in these sectors,”
The Omanization drive is part of a government’s push to recruit more of its own citizens, a similar push is underway across the GCC where countries like Saudi Arabia and Kuwait have also been trying to increase the number of locals in employment.
Balram Manji, an HR consultant in Oman, said the new rules were in keeping with the growing trend around the globe.
“It is very similar to what the US and many European nations are doing in terms of prioritizing their own people.
“In America, before the Bureau of Immigration proceeds with any visa issuance, they always ask the company in question if there is an American who will do the job.”