Protesting about protesters.

So here we are, Saturday March 19th, 2011, and we are seeing the "rent a round about" crowd protesting everywhere.

Carillion Alawi, Al Ansari and Towell's are among the Contractors in town that have been hit with protests. Oman International Bank, PDO, InterCon, Al Bustan Palace, Shangri-la are among other local employers in town that have been hit by staff protesting for increased salaries. The list is long and I see no need to repeat it in full  here.

PDO made me smile, a lot of those guys make thousands of rials a month, I doubt many other nationals are going to have much sympathy for them.

As the Dragon over at Muscat Confidential blogged the other day, it is starting to smack of people throwing temper tantrums. No one is saying that the original protests were not well called for, but enough already - action has happened, the people protesting saying they want a RO 500/month minimum salary just simply do not know what they are asking for.

I for one am wondering when the Government are going to call time on all of these protests. On one hand I think the current tactic of waiting out the protesters holds water (the summer is, after all, knocking on our doors). But on the other side of things, people seem to have lost respect for due process (presumably because it was not working for them, or possibly because they feel this way gets results) and will possibly continue to ignore rules and regulations in other areas. It's a touchy subject I guess and one I'm glad I don't have to tackle.

So what is next? Does anyone care to guess what is going to happen? It apparently seems like it's open season here at the moment. Don't like your job? Fancy protesting instead of working? The nearest round about will do, lets go. I wonder when the ROP are going to start policing again, and how people here are going to react to that.

The real concern is of course - what if the blue suits start protesting? you know - those Indian, Pakistani, Bangladeshi, and so on - the ones that sweep the streets, wash the cars, deliver those goods to peoples houses, build the roads and buildings, keep the hotels running. We saw thousands of people protesting around the country demanding jobs. Except people don't just want any job, do they? Because if they did, they could be a maid, labourer, hotel cleaner, and so on. As these Omanized jobs filter into the population, the cost of doing business will rise, and so the cost of goods will rise, and those minimum wages will need to rise again - an endless cycle.

It does not get away from the core problem - people need to actually be educated properly, and graded properly in order to effect change. So my biggest question is this: When will we see an independent schools / college / university audit that has some real teeth so that when a teacher fails a student, the grade sticks, instead of being magically made into a pass, as I'm sure we all know happens far too often here. It is unfair to those students here who do actually study hard and earn their grades. There are many areas requiring change, but for me, this one is the single most important.

What do you think?

le fin.

Protesting about protesters. Protesting about protesters. Reviewed by Sythe on Saturday, March 19, 2011 Rating: 5


  1. blue collar - indianMarch 19, 2011 at 2:06 PM

    Looks like its time to head home for a long holiday or probably a new job.

    The Govt and its People have gone Crazy over this.

    I am sure we need to come back once everythings fallen - To build this up again !! next time... i wonder if they would even have any money to pay us....

  2. I think is about time they grow a pair and go back to work.

  3. I've been in Morocco twice so far this year. What I notice there is that Moroccans seem to do the work, including rubbish collection and mending roads. All the workmen in my building were Moroccan. If there were any expats, they didn't stand out.

  4. blue collar - indianMarch 19, 2011 at 2:55 PM

    @ Sunnoch : But they alone stand out in the Middle east and if this country had any growth that they can ever talk of and boast about.....They credit always goes to the expats....
    Unlike Morocco - This is a developed nation.

    Well If you are proposing to employ Moroccans for those blue suit jobs here. I think this might see light because our Came Jockey folks want only the "Good" jobs and not the ones like these.....

  5. When will this all end and how? At what point should expats start thinking about getting out????

  6. Headline in the Times of Oman today: "Dole and hike in salary set to fuel inflation." I'm going to guess that those protesters asking for even more cash don't really understand the connection between their wages and the price of things they buy every day.

    Looking at Oman's neighbors (Yemen and Qatar), you really have to wonder what the Sultan is thinking about how to extricate himself from this mess. If he tries to shut the protesters down, do things turn ugly and does he risk Oman losing its rep as the "chill zone" of demonstration? Does he simply wait them out and wait for the heat? And if that doesn't work?

  7. Even the British - one of the richest nations in the world still clean toilets, empty bins and dig trenches whatever the weather!! Roll up your sleeves Omani's, get to work and EARN your money!!

  8. Check in Yemen and *Bahrain* must be making the Sultan wonder...

  9. With my respect to your analysis! It seems you're beating around the protestors pointlessly. It's about time you start chatting about the root cause of these problems.

    My counter argument to this post or your analysis is that Oman has the ability to educate the majority of its citizens. The top gezza's who are the strategist of the advancement of Oman have never wanted this to happen.

    To add more flavor to this, Oman has set a 2020 Vision of Human Resources Development to the nation(It's going to failed)

    Now let's simple calculations!
    Year 70000 Students graduate from high School

    SQU can only admit 3000 Students (Plenty of Filtering happens here)

    Now we are left with 67000 Students Remaining!

    Technical Colleges can only take about 7000 Nationwide.

    Now we are left with 60000 Students...

    12 Private Universities (Mostly Owned by Ministers)have roughly 500 student each (they will be very happy to take more) this brings us to the sum of 6000 Students

    We are now left with 54000 Students...

    now lets assume that 4000 student come from family with a bit of wealth and influence who manage to send their kids to universities abroad and some will get to start white collar jobs here and there.

    Now we are left with 50000 Students who are poorly low skilled.

    If this repeats for several 10 years. We will be having around half a million poorly skilled Omani's....

    I believe the government has the ability to build roads to nowhere worth of billions

    A humble public University would always come handy to Oman...

    We have a very famous say 'keep the dogs hungry they will always obey'

    I think the dogs have been kept too hungry and have multiplied and are ready to bite

  10. Just wanted to say that PDO staff didn't ask for the raise of salary. Maybe you should interview one of them to know what exactly are their demands?

  11. Stop making children?!!! Good Point on a low intellectual level.

    Population is not an issue...

    Perhaps the best solution is to bring in independent forensic accountants to dig deep into the national expenditure and find discrepencies...

    I stongly believe the money spent on developing Oman is less than whats been pocketed since 70's!

    After all whats going to happen now after all these cabinet re-shuffle? Nothing (An Opinion)

    New policies will be drafted to plaster here and there...This will keep people silent for a while. 8 years from now (Next Economical Downfall)Protestor will come in with a BANG!!!

    After all, we're shall not forget who we are!!!

    Egoistic, Rebellious, Manipulators,Control Freaks...Garnished with Blaming Culture!

    Sorry My fellow citizens. I guess we need to identify ourselves before we proceed...

  12. The rat hole we are in right knaw has alot to do with the Oman's Sociology, where us bieng a petro- nations we have long taken evrything for granted. The only root solution to this mess is to change Oman's youths mentality, do that and well land on the moon in no time.

  13. Change Mentality!

    You're designed that way by the strategist...According to them there is nothing wrong with the system nor the way your mentality is...

    I would classify this as social oppression that went well for a while. Now its firing back!

    Surely HM has been getting false reports about the progress of Oman and its nation...

    After all freedom of expression is new in my country. I wonder how suppressed it? HM or the People under him?

  14. Ashraf. Your point about the number of school leavers is well made. But of course not all school leavers need to go to university. A school education should provide enough skills for people to enter the job market doing jobs that don't require a college education. This is fundamental to all economies. However if the expectation of those job seekers (as well as college educated ones) is above their academic and ability level then frankly the economy is doomed. Not everyone can be a manager.

    And as Sythe says, the issue is not what the exam certificate says, it's what it represents. If it says you are an engineer but you can't tell a spanner from a trifle then what it represents is a credibility gap. Multiply this across the academic and employment system and again, the economy is doomed.

    But it doesn't have to be this way....

  15. Thanks for the comments everyone, I always like to see peoples comments!

    Ashraf: Absolutely - more access to higher education is needed here, but also an acceptance that not every single national boy and girl has the intelligence required to take all these "top" jobs.

    I still stand by my observation that there are jobs available here, it's just that many Omani's do not want to do them: labouring, road sweeping, gardening, etc.

    People often comment to me that they "need a maid" to which I almost always think to myself - why? Why must a family employ a full time live-in maid? The most common answers I get are that the houses are big, and there are many children. And now people are complaining about the cost of living?

    It should be considered that people are living beyond their means.

  16. I'm wondering what the worth of "access to more higher education" would be when the students at Sohar University are protesting for the GPA to be abolished. The students wanting this are the students that have failed.

  17. education, education, education! I can kind of understand Omanis why they are frustrated, seeing the white expats making the big money (thats all they see) but they lack the complex view... these white expats are not being paid for sitting idly and texting their friends, they in most cases have university degrees from REAL universities, 10+ years of experience in an competetive enviroment where you have to deserve your job and be good at it, they have to live in this sh*it hole with total lack of facilities, nowhere to go for a simple walk or cycling etc.
    Omanis, can you please wake up and spend some time on checking how it works in real world? Because as it was stated, you are not oil rich and sooner or later you will have to compete and you want to be ready for it or you will not be able to feed your 6+ children.
    You need PROPER education not just a worthless piece of paper with no knowledge. You need experience before you can be managers. If you dont have the mental capacity to be a manager or pass a real university well then your going to be a construction worker.

  18. Well said. The demands are growing. Imagine students demands like low marks for passing, less timing less subject s lesser you study lesser competitive you will be. Seriously it's time to stop all these nonsense demands and get back to work. Even genuine demands also heard and partially met I feel and please give them some time to deliver. And btw there are 300000. Unemployed registered who can be employed replacing the blue color jobs done by Asian expats anytime and 50000 jobs announced by HM

  19. As an Omani...

    I would not like to see Omani's sweeping or maids etc I would rather enhance their skills. Since we have plenty of resources.

    The basic education system is designed to push out students out of the door after 12 years of attendance, there is no quality assurance or guidance (consultation) a very Egyptian style...

    Schools need to teach student discipline and work ethics, parents need to manage their kids agendas rather than shouting and scare the he'll out of kids tell you the truth I feel kid hate to see parents!

    I don't think we have a problem with expat and their packages. However we don't like to see their have more perks then their equal grade Omani colleagues

    Vocational training is non-existence.

  20. To all those saying that the population is not an issue.. 40% of the Omani population is below the age of 15!! How is that not an issue.. You are kidding yourself when you say that there are plenty of resources when doing physical labour jobs is not an option.

    Are we better than all of the developed countries? Better than the US, Britian, European countries, Japan..etc!!!

  21. To be honest, i agree with the opinions posted concerning the cliche lazy omani "texting and talking to friends". Every hotel, shopping mall, whatever, you go to, you see expats working, and omanis socialising. and then they are surprised if they dont get a promotion for sitting around all day and letting expats do the work for them. if omanis dont wake up and realise that just being a national doesnt entitle them to the good life they have always dreamed of, they will have to move to qatar to become labourers there, seeing as qatar is rich enough to pay its nationals to be lazy. oman isnt, deal with it.

  22. It is amazing to read these comments where people dare to speak the truth, truely the new world has emerged, fear has died Oman being part it has not been saved the tides of the changes brought the blessing in the country. What was thought to be imposible became possible in the blink of time. This are positive changes, it blessing to us as those ministers who were left unaccountable swayed away overight by the tide of changes. They thought that the ministries were their personal gardens, they were the real thugs of this country sucking the economy left hand right. Oman could have developed three to four time ahead if these guys were having good intention. They should not be left for more than four to five years in the office even if a minister has got a golden brain. With this changes it is merely a matter of time accountability will take its seat and things will to get its right direction.

  23. Le Fin

    PDO employees didnt protest because of the salary for your information. The employees had a list of issues that the company has been facing for the past years. thats why the Minister of oil & gas was called to attend a quick meeting with the employees. And about this sentense(---a lot of those guys make thousands of rials a month---) are you sure of these information???? I work for PDO and i know what was going on inside the company so please"Stop cascading wrong information".

    Blue Collar:

    About your comment. i wounder if you can get this money while working in ur country.

    With respect:
    The Thriller

  24. All, with all due respect to all whom have posted their comments in this web, first we are talking about Omanis that they are not doing anything and they want to get free money..... which is wrong in my view. we have expats that been working in Oman for long time and been respected so much that we couldn’t feel the difference between us. I would say this word to all whom are in Oman and criticizing Omanis for asking for the basic rights in their own place, we swat to get our salaries. I'm working in PDO and we face this on day to day basis, if we say that expect have added any value and they have real degrees and sold work experience that why you don’t stick to your countries and why do you come to Oman?? and you are the one who have applied for the job?? I have so many friends Omanis and expects and I will not accept that any one of them disrespect me or Oman in any point of my life. and if you feel that the expects can EARN MORE MONEY in continues then with all pleasure go back why you are still here???
    I think we need to change the way we deal with you guys so we can show that we are not less than anyone who have degree or what so ever.. we have studies outside Oman and been to all over the world.. so please stop the comments that you are writing which is showing the Omanis as devils and you as angles.
    I have strong believe, Oman will still go-on even if all expects went back Home….. (Bye bye)>…..

  25. well i see from the comments above that expats started to worry about to loose their jobs in Oman! :)
    i think its the time for the expats to leave our country around. 80% "if not more" of the expats we dont need them. they are doing the same jobs which an omani is doing and sometimes even less. but they are earning triple of Omani's salary.
    this money is the right of omanis not others. the expats are coming here they have everything (high salary + house + health insurance + free of tax + secure life) which most of these facilities they can NOT find in their home town. almost nowadays we need expats in following (house maids, builders, cleaners) but not in a higher position unless they work as much they are paid for.
    about blue collar - indian said... really iam thinking how much ur salay in ur county???? :)


  27. to the person who said this comment (education, education, education! I can kind of understand Omanis why they are frustrated, seeing the white expats making the big will not be able to feed your 6+ children)
    first of all id like to tell u we have well educated ppl more than yourself who are ready to develope their country bcuz they love it.
    2nd thing, since we are able to feed ppl like 'YOU' .. offcourse we are able to feed our 6+ kids...
    seems you are disapointed to loose the facilities which our country gives u...."ohh poor"

    simply i would like to say specially to you and everyone who is thiking like YOU "GO BACK TO YOUR COUNTRY WE DONT NEED YOU"
    you was not working for free "this if u were working honestly" :)

  28. Lets start with private large enterprises typical occidental/PDO petroleum service contractors and government should put a specific contractual quote on omanisation which should developing and employing omanis on the jobs. What frustrates younger omani generation of being treated third class citizens in their own country. Most of the the above mentioned contractors are owned indirectly by top omani ellites and unfortunately against omanisation including expatriates employed by them. And in return they insult omanis of being lazy - see rubbish put on muscat confidential site. This is typical courtesy of expatriates to be paid pay back to omanis for being generous and friendly.

  29. Agree with above, omanis are capable and hardworking- see banks, omantel, Nawras, OXy, PDO, etc,etc with high percentage of omanisation. In PDO it is proven that omanis are better in delivering projects better then their expatriate counterparts including Shell expatriates. Major oil and gas projects delivey speak for themselves. So what really made the difference is proper training on the job, and succession planning.
    The worst part of some of above organisations have now become dumping yard regional including western direct hire.
    I also agree with above muscatconfidential website has no love for omanis but it is place where expatriates lauch their insulting missiles to people who have accepted and welcomed them to their country. Lets hope that this gentleman does not come back again in this country.

  30. Hey guys!
    Why is there so much negativism to expats? All I see here is from Omanis is screaming about expats stealing their jobs. If the country doesn't need us why does it invite us to work for you? :)))
    The second point is, I teach here in Muscat in one of the colleges and hmmm, never in my life I've seen so many arrogant, lazy and apathetic people in one place. All that these guys want is a certificate (not knowledge) and, yes, well-paid jobs after graduation. Every semester I have to spend at least two weeks just to arouse their interest to the subject I teach. I'm not talking about everyone, but about majority, unfortunately.
    And guys, if you need all expats to leave, why don't you also start doing such jobs as cleaners, baby-sitters, construction workers as well?
    I didn't really mean to offend Omanis, not actually. I've met different people: hard-working, well-educated, doing their best and it's real pleasure to work with them. Although what I wanted to pay attention to is young people's development. The most important thing is to teach kids to learn, set the goals and achieve them, but not to live only for demanding their rights without realizing what they are. Do you understand what I mean?
    To the anonymous above - guys, stop being hysterical and start working with no excuses. You will see how things will change :))) Good-luck!

  31. Expats stop blaming the Omanis and Omanis stop blaming the expats...

    Blame the system and the people who ran it...

    They Intentionally distructed the development of youth, Legally killing the national health services and many more!

    The big big bang is yet to come!

    I guess Oman needs dig deep into the system and find a solution ASAP...

    Accountability & Taxation is the only way forward

    No, Im not pro democracy!

  32. to the anonymous above specially,
    1st, i dont think that all the studnets in ur class u r teaching are lazy and not interested to learn unless if they see that the teacher or lecturer doesnt know how to teach or deliver the information correctly to the student.
    2nd thing i'd like to tell you that the sector which got u to teach ppl cuz some of the colleges bring teachers which are paid less just to show that they have teachers and lectureres eg. indians.
    3rd we need some expats to leave NOT ALL and here we mean the useless whom are paid thousands and doing nothing. regarding cleaners..etc we do have some Omanis, but for the time been we want all Omanis to get better jobs. and leave these jobs for some expats.

  33. IN the West it's the norm for middle class students from wealthy families to take menial jobs like hotel cleaning, construction and so on through school and university to fund their living expenses and college fees. When they graduate after four or five years of hard work, they know they will start on a lowly graduate trainee salary because it takes plenty of experience on the job before they become of any value to their employer. Anyone who's been through this system knows that the world doesn't owe them a living.
    It's pretty telling that very few Omanis are complaining about the lowly paid, unskilled expats doing domestic and labouring work taking 'their' jobs; just the professional and technical staff who have spent many long years of hard work and little pay in the beginning to get the level of expertise they have.
    If you do get rid of all the expats, who do you think you are going to manage, each other? If your skills are so useful, why don't you apply for work abroad too? Most youngsters around the world jump at the chance to work or study outside their country for the fun and the insight it gives them into the world outside. Hard work, but well worth it.
    Confused of Muscat

  34. Another point to any national who thinks that all expats should leave Oman. All other countries have expat workers, and one day you might want to be one too. How will you feel if you find no country will look at you because your own country has closed its borders.
    How many tourists would want to visit such a place. How many foreign companies would want to invest in such a country. And beware, even your own companies might start outsourcing jobs to foreign lands.
    This is a global world and you need to have an international outlook. Your ambition should be to be amongst the best in the world, not just the best in Oman.
    Confused of Muscat


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