Expat workers fired from State Sector Companies: Oman

Expat workers fired from State Sector Companies: Oman
The late Sultan of Oman Qaboos bin Said al-Said, who launched “Omanisation” campaign. File | Photo Credit: AP

Indian migrants in foreign nations have been brutally affected by the misfortune of COVID-19 Lockdowns in every nation. Migrants workers have encountered lack of food, water, sanitation, financial resources for adequate standards of living, rare access to healthcare facilities and loss of livelihood.

Though in Oman, what intensified their hardships was the order by the Gulf Monarchy that state-owned companies fire expat workers and recruit local Omanis[1]. The order implies that the “Omanisation” campaign, instituted by Sultan Qaboos has intensified. Though the order may also affect the private sector in Oman as it is among the major employers of expats from South Asia.

The order was issued as a part of the financial guidelines provided by the Government to state-owned companies in furtherance of the indigenisation of the Omani economy. Indigenisation is a process of making anything more indigenous or more suitable to the culture of localites of the place by inclusion of local communities. There are around 8,00,000 Indian workers in the Omani economy and this order will impact the lives of a considerable part of them[2]. Though the order is for now applicable to the state-owned companies only, but it is amply clear that the private sector shall follow the same guidelines in the near future. Also, the External Affairs Ministry issued a statement that this policy does not affect Indian expats in Oman and the Oman government is taking special care of them but there is no assured protection from the loss of jobs that Indian expats may go through in future[3].

However, this is not the first time that Oman had implemented restrictive orders in the public sector. The Oman Finance Ministry had asked state-owned companies to avoid new projects and keep administrative and operational expenses to 10% in 2020 due to the current global oil-price war[4].

Though the Oman Sultan named Haitham Bin Tarik assured PM Modi that Indians in Oman will be protected well as the country had dealt with its slumped economy due to the worldwide pandemic, yet the order was issued.

Diplomatic sources have also claimed that the order was not the result of the slumped economy of Oman caused by the pandemic but was a long-drawn plan in order provide Omani youth which is educated and unemployed at home with more job opportunities. The order apparently promotes the indigenisation of Omani economy, which will result into the loss of livelihood to Indian expats in Oman.

Oman’s relationship with India was warm enough that Oman was part of India’s international consultation to the pandemic. India also helped Omani economy affected by the lockdown. Oman Monarch even thanked our PM Modi for the helping hand put forward by India in the time of pandemic. 

 The order by Oman Government may be favourable to the Omani youth but it also has awful consequences for Indians as well as the Omani economy in whole, which are enumerated below:

  • India-Oman bilateral trade has grown from US $4131.69 million in 2014-15 to US $6703.76 million in 2017-18[5]. So, non-availability of job opportunities to Indian expats in Oman will surely urge India to limit its bilateral trade with Oman and hence, will reap strenous diplomatic relations between both the nations.
  • Indian expats in Oman will suffer from loss of livelihood and find themselves unable to obtain the adequate standards of living. As a result, Indian expats will face other predicaments as well like food insecurity, loss of right to shelter, improper access to healthcare facilities, non-availability of opportunities in educational and research organizations, etc. and the list goes on.

Article Written By- Muskan Sharma
Law Student– Jamia Millia Islamia
(HRDI Work From Home Internship)

[1] “Oman orders firing of expats from state sector companies”, The Hjndu, available at: https://www.thehindu.com/news/international/oman-orders-firing-of-expats-from-state-sector-companies/article31471051.ece (Last visited on 1st May; 2020)

[2] “Oman’s Finance Ministry Asks state companies to replace expats with locals”, Scroll.in, available at: https://www.google.com/amp/s/amp.scroll.in/latest/960709/omans-finance-ministry-asks-state-companies-to-replace-expats-with-locals (Last visited on 1st May; 2020)

[3] “Why Expat Indians should worry about Oman’s drive to fire foreign workers”, WION, available at: https://www.google.com/amp/s/www.wionews.com/india-news/why-expat-indians-should-worry-about-omans-drive-to-fire-foreign-workers-295914/amp (Last visited on 1st May; 2020)

[4] “Oman urges public firms to speed up replacing foreigners with citizens”, Gulf News, available at: https://www.google.com/amp/s/gulfnews.com/amp/world/gulf/oman/oman-urges-public-firms-to-speed-up-replacing-foreigners-with-citizens-1.1588182245517 (Last visited on 1st May; 2020)

[5] “India-Oman bilateral trade showing remarkable growth in recent years”, Business Standard, available at: https://www.google.com/amp/s/wap.business-standard.com/article-amp/news-cm/india-oman-bilateral-trade-showing-remarkable-growth-in-recent-years-118071800387_1.html (Last visited on 1st May; 2020)