Oman has opted to extend a six-month ban on hiring foreigners in 10 sectors and announced new visa sponsorship rules for investors.
The first announcement comes after three separate bans on hiring expat staff were extended last month for work in carpentry, metal, aluminium workshops, brick factories, sales and purchase roles and construction and cleaning.
It applies to ban in private sector hiring of foreigners in 87 job roles announced in late January under efforts to create 25,000 jobs for Omanis and reduce unemployment among citizens.
The Ministry of Manpower said the ban would be extended for a further six months from July 30.
The affected roles are in the information technology and electronics, accounting and finance, marketing and sales, administration and human resources, insurance, media, healthcare, aviation, engineering and technical sectors.
Some members of the sultanate’s advisory Shoura council celebrated the extension but others said the ban should not apply to companies that are already meeting Omanisation targets, according to Times of Oman.
“The decision is excellent and will contribute to providing more jobs for Omanis in the private sector. I hope this decision will be extended for longer periods and will include new jobs and professions,” member Hilal Al Sarmi was quoted as saying.
Another decision announced this week by Royal Oman Police will allow foreign owners of property in tourism complexes to obtain an owners’ visa without a sponsor.
Foreign nationals are generally restricted from real estate investment in Oman outside of the complexes.
The spouse and immediate family of the investor can also obtain a visa under the change.
Other visa changes include the ability for expats working for a government agency to sponsor their own family members if they meet certain conditions and a cheaper short-stay tourist visa to boost visitor numbers.
Oman has been among the hardest hit in the Gulf Cooperation Council by the drop in oil prices over the last three years.
Reduced oil revenues led the government to introduce austerity measures in 2017 including new taxes and the halting of hiring in the public sector in order to tackle an OMR3bn ($779.1m) budget deficit.
This year Oman is raising spending from OMR11.7bn to OMR12.5bn ($32.5bn) despite concern from credit agencies.The government is again projecting a deficit of OMR3bn.