Monday, October 27, 2008

Omani youth protest over jobs in Duqm

Perhaps this is a sign of things to come, and it has happened many times before, but interesting that it got reported at all I guess. 100+ 'youths' in the far off place of Duqm had a sit-in protest at not being given jobs in the local construction work for the dry dock being built there - apparently the first of many grand investment plans for the area.

The situation reflects the tremendous importance of job creation to the medium-long term stability of Oman. This is why so many state subsidies are being used to generate new industrial centres (eg Sohar, Salalah), the multitude of tourism plans, and the various other things the Government are trying to do. They know the demographic wave (remember half of Oman's population is under 18) is coming.

I like the way the report basically says the local Wali and ROP guys (who wouldn't be able to take on 100+ youth on their own) seemed to say "OK lads. Fair point. Now stop blocking the road and come down to the walli's office for a chat. I'm sure we'll work something out." Quaint.

There certainly isn't much else to do in Duqm except a bit of fishing and raising goats. Its half-way between Muscat and Salalah, and at least it's by the coast. It is a really beautiful place, and while the development in some ways is a shame, you can't eat landscape, and there's a LOT of landscape in and around Duqm.

Whether the youths will be happy to hump rocks at the wages given to expat labourers is something else, but probably they wouldn't need too much more given their options.

Again, I say establishing a mechanism of some kind to make it more attractive to hire Omani for low-skilled jobs in contruction is required. Minimum wage (for all, not Omani), bigger tax on expat visas for certain jobs, higher standards of construction that rely on more machinery and less guys with shovels... But meanwhile its great to see people taking peaceful action to try to improve their lot.

Anyone got more details on what's happening? Pictures? I hope they didn't wait until winter on purpose! Lugging rocks in summer doesn't sound like much fun.

Times of Oman article
Omani youths stage protest in Duqm
Rashid bin Ahmed Al Baloushi
Monday, October 27, 2008
DUQM — Around 100 Omani youths from the wilayat of Duqm staged a sit-in here yesterday protesting against a company involved in the construction of a dry dock and seaport here not giving jobs to the local citizens.

The protesters blocked the trucks carrying rocks to the seaside causing traffic jams for hours. They demanded of the company give preference to the local citizens in its recruitments.

The protesters said that their job applications had been pending with the company for more than a year and-a-half.

A source at the Royal Oman Police said the Ministry of Interior, represented by the Wali’s Office in Duqm, had asked the protesters to meet the officials concerned in the Wali’s Office and assured them of suitable action on their demands.


  1. Oh sure, they want jobs but that is only half the battle, and the beginning of the usual nightmare for employers in Oman - or should I say managers, seeing as though most employers in Oman tend to visit the office once a month!

    I had a discussion recently with an Indian manager who works for a well known retail group here in Oman and he was telling me about the regulations based around having to employ a certain amount of Omani staff as opposed to expats.

    However, the general consensus amongst supervisors and managers is that employing most Omanis is more trouble than it is worth.

    The reasons given being numerous:

    Turning each "call to prayer" into a forty minute break.

    The consistent lateness and absenteeism.

    The arrogance and disrespect for authority who that view as beneath them both culturally and religiously.
    (One can only imagine the resentment and prejudice that will be churned out by 100 young Omanis sharing a building site with 2000 Dalits - and what the reaction will be when the pressure builds enough for the lid to blow!)

    They ask for a day off and get told "No" by a supervisor, only to phone in the next day with the inevitable funeral.

    The work ethic among locals in this country has all but vanished.
    They are deluded into thinking that they are on a par with the rest of the GCC, and that there will always be money and power available to them. Wrong!

    The oil will run out soon, it is clear that they can't grasp the concept of tourism or honoring hotel bookings. Wasta beats the hell out of American Express or Visa.

    The workers from India and Pakistan will eventually get fed up and leave for word, albeit very slowly, travels home.

    The Filipinas are tired of the sexual harassment and the disrespect and the European, Antipodean and American expats are fast realising that the grass is definitely greener across the road in the UAE - a whole new set of problems there, yes, but at three times the salary of here, I think I can get on with it.

    So, boys and girls, Omanisation will come a lot sooner than you think, but it won't come on your terms!
    You will have two choices: work or watch the whole place go back to tents and goat-herding. Ironically a time when Oman used to have a work ethic!

  2. Local companies - that is companies whose owner is from Duqm – have qualified for PDO’s local contracting and presumably are capable of organising the transporting of infill from the quarry, which is practically on the highway into the port area . The area from Mahoot to Al Jazir is supposed to benefit from the port – Sheik Hilal will have a lot of company’s arms to twist .

    Re; Jet drivers comments – working in 50degree heat is what many Omanis do. In the coast where Duqm is located, you don’t think that the fish jump into nets by them selves? Do you feel that the fish also drives itself from Duqm to Abu-Dhabi or Dubai by itself to get into market?

    Having had a business which was 75% Omanised in retail over 10 years ago – where the staff worked retail hours 7 days a week (yes that does mean six and half and were paid over time) who operated the same state of the art point of sale machines very well that the staff in Shell Select had trouble operating (Shell Select at that time were 0% Omani) I think that the Indian Mangers/Supervisors that you talk about are actually reflecting on their inability to motivate staff – the prime role in Management.
    Their general consensus might well be that its more trouble than its worth, especially if it precludes their relative getting a ‘shoe in’ position, but frankly why are those Managers in Oman? To have a sinecure ? Or to Manage the business they chose to work in.

    The Philipinos you refer to – are not sexually harassed ever except by Omanis? Even in their own country? The European, Antipodean and American expats, that you seem so keen to show the door to, might well have been in Oman for x years and visited the flesh pots of the UAE occasionally and made their own assessment of where they wish to work .
    I was stuck at the road works near the Church today, watching a worker (I presume you would refer to him as a Dalit ) leaning on his spade, doing absolutely nothing. I wondered what it was that would motivate him to work – presumably not his fellow national supervisor who might well reflect to you that “those Dalits are more trouble than they are worth – but we have quotas”. Perhaps it might be argued that the date of the GCC Conference has been dictated by that worker doing nothing, and his supervisor’s inability to motivate him
    Jet driver -
    Virtually yours -

  3. Jet,

    Thanks for the comment. In my experience its highly variable - some of the smartest and hardest working people I've ever worked with happen to be Omani. For me, a big part of the solution would be if it was simply easier to fire Omani employees. I suspect the truth is somewhere between and including the two comments expressed.

    But you're right about the deterioration in a work ethic. Too many of the younger ones are developing almost a cargo cult approach, expecting the Government to pay them to do sweet *&^% all. I've also seen the common idea that qualifications (as in pieces of paper) or 'training' are all that is required, rather than the application of actual skills to produce productive work.

    There is also a strong lack of acceptance that failing to meet an absolute standard (say, in an exam) is a 'fail'. Failure or non-performance is commonly seen as someone else's fault.

    Part of me would, I admit, love to be an Omani citizen for about 10 years. The opportunities for entrepreneurs here are amazing. (And in around 18 months land will be really cheap again!)

    Pick a nickname. You are still anon and then we know who the hell we're talking to.

    Nice response.

    And I was almost going to award you a prize for the first (and correct) use of the word 'sinecure' on this blog.
    But... note the expression is shoo-in, not shoe-in. Dates from the 1920s US horse racing.

    Nice repost on the responsibilities of management. I think you're absolutely right there; however, if you can't offer promotion, bonuses and can't fire them, there are some who are almost unmotivatable. Have you ever tried to get service from the Omani shop girls upstairs in Centrepoint MQ?

    Oman would be helped by more acceptance of a results based reward system, not one based on qualifications, relatives, hours worked, or galant but unsuccessful efforts (and that holds for Omanis, expats and the Government!)

  4. Virtually Yours = my anon log in. OmanTel is having difficulty connecting to my WordPress Blog. There is of course lots more to the subject – including hire and fire. To motivate the Omani Girls –chat to them in Arabic – they will be so surprised that it’s remarkable what they will do. Thanks for the ‘shoo-in’ - Virtually Yours

  5. Fair enough VY

    Alt is to use the name button below the form

  6. Public Opinion:

    So given that there are these huge developments taking place... all over the country.... and that word on the black tar streets is that a halt has been put on any new developments getting permission to go ahead.....

    Question: What do people think about the existing ones??

    We know that people are being displaced by the construction.. where are they going...
    what is being provided.....
    how many of the jobs will actually go to Omanis.... Construction industry or the following tourist trade....
    Will the claimed quotas of 90% (ministry of tourism) Omani employment in the tourist industry ever be reached....
    Will HE step in and save all the developments?i.e. just like the Airport Heights ones...

    Any thoughts...


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