Oman expat visa ban extended to more professions

The visa ban has been imposed on various industries since January 2018. (File/Shutterstock)
Updated 27 November 2018

Oman expat visa ban extended to more professions

  • The initial visa ban was imposed for just six months, but was extended
  • The ban is part of the Omanization project aimed at getting the local population into work

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.”


Saudi online grocery shoppers to get helping hand from Carrefour robots

Updated 29 January 2020

Saudi online grocery shoppers to get helping hand from Carrefour robots

  • Dubai-based Majid Al Futtaim has struck a deal with Takeoff, a US-based technology company that will automate online grocery purchases in the two countries
  • The Takeoff technology can process 2,000 orders per day from a space of 1,500 sq m

LONDON: Carrefour is set to use robots to pack online grocery orders in Saudi Arabia and the UAE.

Dubai-based Majid Al Futtaim has struck a deal with Takeoff, a US-based technology company that will automate online grocery purchases in the two countries. Under the partnership, several micro-fulfilment centers will be built by next year.

Located at select Carrefour stores, these mini warehouses will process Carrefour’s online orders to replace the manual picking method currently used.

Customers will be able to place orders through Carrefour online with Takeoff’s automated technology ensuring that robots within the MFCs fulfil the order in less than 5 minutes for pick-up or delivery, Majid Al Futtaim said.

“Once in place, Majid Al Futtaim will be the first grocery retailer to use this technology in the Middle East as we look to scale up our e-grocery business," said Hani Weiss, CEO of Majid Al Futtaim — Retail.

Fierce competition among grocery retailers worldwide is encouraging the use of automation and technology to monitor and anticipate customer shopping habits.

The Takeoff technology can process 2,000 orders per day from a space of 1,500 sq m. The idea is that these mini fulfillment centers will be based within Carrefour stores located in communities where customers live and shop.

Carrefour is one of the largest hypermarket and supermarket chains in the world. The brand was launched in the region in 1995 by Majid Al Futtaim, which is the exclusive franchisee to operate Carrefour in over 30 countries across the Middle East, Africa, and Asia.