OMAN – Wide-ranging expat hiring ban now in effect

A number of countries in the Middle East and elsewhere are adopting immigration measures aimed at protecting their local workforces.

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IMPACT – MEDIUM

What is the change? Oman has imposed a six-month ban on hiring expatriates in 87 positions in 10 different industries, including information and technology, marketing and sales, insurance and engineering.

What does the change mean? The measure, which is aimed at helping Oman’s domestic workforce, means that employers will not be able to hire expatriates to fill jobs in any of the affected positions for six months. Foreign nationals who are already working in the country will be able to work until their work permit expires. It is not yet clear whether renewal applications will be affected.

  • Implementation time frame: Immediate and ongoing. The decree was issued Jan. 24 and the six-month ban went into effect Jan. 25.   
  • Visas/permits affected: Work permits.
  • Who is affected: Private sector employers and expatriates looking to take jobs in affected industries. Exemptions may apply in limited circumstances, as detailed below.
  • Business impact: The change represents a significant reduction in the number of jobs that will be available to expatriate workers over the next six months.

Additional information: Oman’s Ministry of Manpower recently imposed the ban, aiming to help Omani nationals find jobs that might otherwise go to foreign workers. News outlets reported that the ban was put in place following protests last week from Omani workers demanding jobs. The Times of Oman reported that the following industries are affected:  

  • Information and Technology.
  • Accounting and Finance.
  • Marketing and Sales.
  • Administration and Human Resources.
  • Insurance.
  • Information/Media.
  • Medical Professions.
  • Aviation Professions.
  • Engineering Professions.
  • Technical Professions.

A list of the 87 positions that will be covered by the six-month expatriate hiring ban is available here.

Exemptions: Article 2 of the ministry’s decree exempts Omani business owners from the ban if they meet all of the following conditions: (1) the owner of the company is also the manager, (2) the company is registered with the Public Authority for SME Development (Riyada), and (3) the company is registered with social security. In order to register as an SME in Oman, a company must:

  • Be owned by Omani individuals.
  • Have its headquarters in Oman.
  • Be registered at the Ministry of Commerce and Industry.
  • Not exceed 99 employees.
  • Not be a branch, subsidiary or sister company of a larger entity.

BAL Analysis: A number of countries in the Middle East and elsewhere are adopting immigration measures aimed at protecting their local workforces. The change in Oman represents one of the region’s most dramatic attempts to protect domestic workers. Employers with questions about whether they will be able to recruit expatriate workers for specific jobs should contact BAL.

This alert has been provided by the BAL Global Practice group and our network provider located in Oman. For additional information, please contact your BAL attorney.

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