Expatriate visa ban extended again

MUSCAT, Feb 3 – The ban on hiring of expatriate workers to a number of professions has been extended for another six months. A decision in this regard was taken by Shaikh Abdullah bin Nasser al Bakri, Minister of Manpower, on Sunday.
According to Article 1 of the Ministerial Decision 73/2019, the recruitment freeze, which has been in force since January 28, 2018, will continue for six more months.
“The ban on recruiting expatriate manpower in the private sector establishments for the professions specified in the decision shall continue for a period of six months,” a statement quoting the ministerial decision said.
However, the decision will not affect the existing visa-holders in these professions, the statement added.
The professions to which foreign workers cannot be hired include information and technology, media, finance, sales and marketing, administration, human resources, architecture, engineering and aviation sectors. The statement said establishments registered with the Public Authority for Small and Medium Enterprises Development (Riyada) are exempted from the ban.
According to an official at the ministry, the decision was aimed at reducing the number of foreign workers in the country.
“A decision in this regard is necessary to suit the job market requirements,” he told the Observer.
Since recruitment in the public sector will continue to be based on the needs, the private sector should be able to provide jobs to the maximum number of nationals, he said.
“Along with the Omanisation target, the private sector companies have to give priority to nationals in new appointments,” he said, adding, “A foreign worker is hired only if no suitable Omani candidate is available for a particular job.”
The National Centre of Statistics and Information figures show jobless rate among youth aged between 18 and 24 fell by 17 per cent followed by an 8.3 per cent drop among those in the age group 25 and 34 years.
According to data from the Ministry of Manpower, 68,511 nationals have been provided with jobs since the launch of the national employment programme in December 2017.