Thousands of expat health workers replaced in Oman

Thousands of expat health workers replaced in Oman
The number of Omanis working for the Ministry of Health is now more than 71 percent. (File/Shutterstock)
Updated 09 July 2019

Thousands of expat health workers replaced in Oman

Thousands of expat health workers replaced in Oman
  • More than 39,000 Omanis now work for the country’s Ministry of Health
  • Before Omanization began expats accounted for more than 70% of the country’s workforce

DUBAI: Nearly 3,000 expats employed in Oman’s health sector were replaced in 2018 as the ongoing Omanization project aimed at reducing unemployment levels among the country’s nationals continued, national daily Times of Oman reported.

There were 2,869 foreign nationals replaced by Omanis from 2015 to 2019, pushing the proportion of locals working within the Ministry of Health to 39,220 – that’s 71 percent of the total workforce by the end of last year – according to Ministry of Health figures.

Oman introduced the expat visa ban in January 2018 for a six-month period for certain professions.

There have been a number of extensions to the ban since then and it has also been expanded to cover other industries and professions.

Tens of thousands of Omanis have found work since the ban was brought in.

Historically Gulf countries have been dependent on expatriate workers to power their economies.

A 2013 study revealed that up to 71 percent of Oman’s labor force were foreign-nationals.

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.

The Gulf states have since launched nationalization programs to absorb more of their citizens into the workforce, slashing the high levels of unemployment.

Oman's expat population has dropped significantly since the introduction of the ban.


Saudi PIF seeks investment flexibility with $5 billion-plus loan

Updated 04 December 2020

Saudi PIF seeks investment flexibility with $5 billion-plus loan

Saudi PIF seeks investment flexibility with $5 billion-plus loan
  • The loan finances are for use if and when the fund identifies investment opportunities 
  • PIF  is at the heart of the Kingdom’s strategy of economic diversification under its Vision 2030 reform plan

DUBAI: The Public Investment Fund (PIF), Saudi Arabia’s sovereign wealth fund, is in talks with bankers to raise a loan of between $5 billion (SR18.75 billion) and $7 billion to provide flexibility in its investment strategy.

The PIF has declined to comment on reports of the loan, said to be in the form of a revolving facility from a number of international banks, but sources said it was part of the fund’s regular financing arrangements, which have seen it take out and repay facilities for the past two years.

The loan finances are for use if and when the fund identifies investment opportunities and may not necessarily be used.

The PIF has been opportunistic during the coronavirus pandemic in identifying what it saw as undervalued assets on global stock markets and has been an active trader in securities on international markets.

The fund invested $7 billion in mainly US stocks in the first quarter of the year, when markets were first impacted by pandemic lockdowns, and increased and diversified that in the second quarter. It scaled back its commitments in the third quarter when asset values were near all-time highs. In the summer, it spent $1.5 billion to acquire a stake in the Indian digital business Jio Platforms.

PIF, under governor Yasir Al-Rumayyan, is at the heart of the Kingdom’s strategy of economic diversification under its Vision 2030 reform plan, while simultaneously building an international portfolio of assets.

Earlier this year, PIF repaid a $10 billion syndicated loan ahead of schedule after it completed the sale of its stake in SABIC to Saudi Aramco, and in 2018 it raised an $11 billion term-loan facility from international banks.

Previous fundraisings were done in partnership with a group of 10 banks from the US, Europe, and Asia that form part of the fund’s “core banking relationships.”