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Oman has extended a temporary ban on the recruitment of expatriate blue-collar workers in the construction and housekeeping sectors, state news agency ONA reported.
The extended ban will come into effect from May 4 this year and was issued by the Minister of Manpower Sheikh Abdullah bin Nasser al Bakri.
Exceptions to this decision include first grade consultancy establishments, companies working on government projects, firms managed full time by their owners along with those who are registered with the Public Authority for the Development of Small and Medium Enterprises and those insured with the Public Authority for Social Insurance.
The ban was initially introduced to create more job opportunities for local citizens.
Oman, which saw a number of protests in 2011, has been actively taking steps to generate employment among nationals.
Earlier this year, Oman revealed plans to replace around 100,000 expat workers in the private sector to generate local employment and balance the job market. Although Al Bakri denied any immediate steps to axe expat jobs, he has said that the country is working on a timeframe to implement such labour policies.
The move, when it comes into effect, would drastically reduce the expat workforce to 33 per cent from its current level of 39 per cent.
Official figures reveal that expatriates still outnumber Omanis in the private sector despite the government’s nationalisation policies.
Out of 1,533, 679 private sector employees, Omanis constituted around 224,698 of the workforce while the number of expat employees rose to 1,308,981 as of 2013, according to the Ministry of Manpower.
Gulf countries have been toughening their labour policies as they shun the inflow of traditionally cheap expat workers in a bid to encourage local employment.
Saudi Arabia has announced a raft of punishments including hefty fines, jail terms, deportation and confiscation of assets for those employing foreigners illegally.
Around one million foreigners voluntarily left the Kingdom after an amnesty last year. Thousands of illegal immigrants were also deported after the country launched a stringent labour crack down earlier this year, creating a labour crunch for menial jobs.