Monday, November 26, 2007

Omani Employment

In a press release a couple of days ago I saw this gem:

MUSCAT — The number of national manpower employed in the private sector establishments until November 18 stood at 55,694.
[Times of Oman Article]

I still find that incredible. Incredibly low that is.

If the population of Omani's is around 2.5 million, and around half are of working age, that means only 54,000 out of more than a million people are working in paid employment in private companies? 5%??? Maybe someone left a zero off the end?

I have to presume this does not include owners of their own businesses, taxi drivers, etc etc. But when you remember that approx 80,000 Omani youngsters graduate high school every year, you can see the present and looming problem.

Massive under- and un-employment.

It is and will continue to be an issue for the entire Gulf region. People are still having way too many children, and it is still much much more attractive for employers to employ expat workers to actually get work done cheaply and effectively. Omani staff are - and I realise this is a generalisation - often just uncompetitive.

If this does not change, and soon, it will all end in tears.


  1. Yes is apparently low while the number of expats is rising in private
    The reason is explained in another article some months ago

  2. Balqis,

    Not sure the article actualy explains anything, but it does provide the data on the expat side of the employment equation, so thanks for the link.

    I think that as long as it is cheaper and more efficient to hire expats than Omani this trend will continue.

    If I had a business, say, a restaurant, I can hire nice polite Philipinos who will work 70-80 hrs a week, 7 days a week, for less than 150 rials per month. I can keep their passports, stop them working for anyone else, and they are actually pretty good at the job.

    An Omani would, typically, want at least double the wage, work half the hours, be less efficient, can quit at any time after I've trained them, but be impossible to sack if they are no good, and will regularly expect time off for holidays and family funerals and weddings.

    Who would YOU hire?

  3. Actually you must be careful with Philipinos cause their law says that their salary abroad must be at least 400 $ monthly, which was why some time ago GCC countries temporarily blocked their visas . Am not an expert in international labour law but they were pretty scared to get to that point .
    The problems in Oman [as in every other country of the world] is :
    1]finding suitable positions for nationals
    2]getting rid of expats who don't produce much [mothers, sisters, sons, daughter who come with family visa or with visit and then escape]
    I think the solution towards which they're going is the idea of Saudi Minister for example, which I was reading on Arabnews today : cut the 2 visa every local has available [as here in Oman for example] and leave it all to companies, so it will be just a deal between commercial partners .
    The unskilled workers can come through controlled agencies .
    For example H.E. dr. Juma is going next month in Bangladesh to make an agreement to import a fixed number of workers [4000 if am not mistaken] : seen like that, one might say "omg he is not caring of Omanisation"
    Seen it globally, he is rationalising the foreign work force and increasing the volume of business with Bangladesh .
    I don't know if official numbers are reliable, but some months ago ina GCC meeting in Qatar, Oman brought the highest number of nationalisation of work .

  4. If I am not mistaken, the 55K is the number of Omanis employed since Jan '07, and not the total numnber of Omanis in the private sector. If you just do a simple calculations, Galfar, Al-Hassan Eng, ATE, GPS, STS, PDO, OLNG, Sohar Alum alone have a combined workforce not less than 30K Omanis. So, it does not make sense that the total number is only 55K.

  5. Dumi,
    That would make sense. It did seem a strangely low number! Is there somewhere with such figures for the whole country?

    I think pretty much all jobs should be considered suitable for Omani. But preferably Omani need to get these jobs by being as good as or better than expats.

    In addition, it would help if the Government can level the playing field, by making it more expensive to hire expats, ensuring expat workers have basic rights on the amount they can be made to work and the minimum pay (and enforcing these rules), and making it easier to fire Omani if they don't perform.


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