Expat population continues to fall

Muscat: Except for Al Wusta and Al Dhakliya, the expatriate population in all the governorates in the Sultanate witnessed a month-to-month decline.

While the largest drop was in Dhofar by 6.5 per cent, it was followed by Ash Shariqiya North and Muscat by 5.6 per cent and 4.2 per cent, respectively, in the first two months of 2019, data from National Centre for Statistics and Information (NCSI) reveal.

At the same time, the total number of foreigners living in the Sultanate dipped by 3.5 per cent to reach 1,782,406 at the end of February this year from 1,787,447 in December 2018.

The capital city of Muscat and its adjoining townships continue to be the preferred choice of 777,585 expats although 1,467 left the country during January and February.

Experts cite Omanisation and the subsequent recruitment ban on certain professions and lack of major projects as the main reasons for the fall and non-arrival of expats to the country.

“The expat decline indicates that the employment programme launched by the government is producing results. Omanis are now capable of replacing foreign workers in many professions”, said Khalid al Balushi, human resource manager at a leading finance company.

The NCSI report shows that there is an across-the-board fall in the number of educated expat workers.

While higher diploma holders have been reduced to just 4,202 with 8.3 per cent fall, those with university and masters degrees shriveled by 5.7 per cent and 6.6 per cent, respectively.

“This shows that most of these jobs have been taken over by Omanis meaning there is no dearth of qualified local talents”, Khalid said.

Unlike in the past when Indian expats formed the biggest group of foreigners in the Sultanate followed by Bangladeshis, their number is showing a steady decrease for different reasons.

While the number of Bangladeshis decreased by 4.6 per cent, from 658,222 in December to 657,117 by the end of February, Indian workers fell to 657,153 from 660,736, registering a 4 per cent fall.

Pakistanis witnessed the largest fall of 7.1 per cent to reach 215,632 from 217,602 during the period. The number of Nepalese and Tanzanians also showed a downtrend.

At the same time, the number of Egyptians, Filipinos and Sri Lankans showed an uptrend with 11.3 per cent, 5.9 per cent and 3.5 per cent respectively.