Petrol's going up, and musical chairs in the Construction industry

I've been a lazy blogger lately, I've not been blogging a lot and there's so many things I've wanted to write about and then.... Christmas happened and watching my 3 year old get so excited about it was far more important to me than spending time writing. So, yeah. Lazy blogger.

However, some major developments are afoot, and one rather amusing confusing disturbing case of musical chairs in the Construction industry that I thought I'd point out.

So, first up. News is leaking out today about Oman's 2016 budget, and there are some rather meaty bits to it this time around.

Fact's are still not totally clear, but here's what I can understand from it that may (probably definitely will) affect you:

1. Fuel subsidy on "petroleum products" is to be "revised" from "mid-January 2016". This short article on the Oman News Agency raises more questions than it answers, but the safe assumption to make will be: a) Expect the price at the pump to rise when filling your cars b) Expect your electricity bill to rise (it's generated from LPG) and c) Expect your water bill to rise (most of it is generated from LPG fired desalination plants).

2. Corporate taxation is to be increased to (apparently) 15%. This is up from the current 12%, but what isn't clear is the eligibility for who should actually be paying this tax, I understand that the intention is to start taxing everyone, regardless of their annual turnover.

3. All companies that the Government has a 40% or more stake in are putting a bonus freeze indefinitely. I wonder if this affects PDO too?

Well I guess we'll see increases in the cost of living across the board, as supermarkets are for sure going to start charging more for it's goods' given that it'll cost them more to bring their products to their stores, etc etc. Times like this make me happy I drive a 2litre VW ;)

Musical Chairs

Now, on to the rather bizarre turn of events that have been reported in recent weeks:

Firstly, this article from 6th December 2015 noted the following:

55,000 Omani workers in the Construction sector face an uncertain future, a Mr Shahswar Al Balushi (CEO of the Oman Society of Contractors) is quoted as saying in this article. Mr Shahswar goes on to say in the article, "Out of the 200,000 Omanis working in the private sector, 26 per cent are in the Construction sector. If the current conditions prevail, they will be losing their jobs". The "current conditions" he was referring to was the current difficulties Construction companies have in getting labour clearances to bring in expat labour forces so that they can keep up with their current work demands from existing Contracts.

If you cast your mind back a few months to the Ministry of Manpower raid on the Airport where 1,000 "illegal" workers were scooped up and presumably deported. That was the very public tip of the iceberg. Construction sites across the city have been regularly raided by Ministry of Manpower operatives on their hunt for illegal workers.

The construction industry here in Oman has long been one of delicate balance, and over the years a don't ask, don't tell approach has been adopted by many Contractors, who regularly used "illegal" labourers on their projects in order to get the manpower required in order to complete their projects. I'm not saying it's right or wrong, I'm just observing that there have been people working on Construction site's here in Oman since probably the 70's who shouldn't have necessarily been there. It's just the way it has been. Now, the Ministry of Manpower are looking to clean that all up (fair enough) and are currently on a drive to scoop up as many as they can find and sending them back to their home countries. Which means that Contractors are facing labour shortages and so progress on projects are slowing down. This is where Mr Shahswar was coming from (I presume) when he was chirping about the fact that Contractors are not getting labour clearances and thus being crippled from a labour point of view.

Now, things get a little more interesting as I've heard a few reports from people in the Construction industry now that the more recent raids by Ministry of Manpower inspectors on Construction sites are more a sort of cursory inspection, and they haven't been searching sites from top to bottom like they were earlier in the year, happy with just a few captures. Perhaps an unofficial softening on this recent hunt? I also note with a little concern that it has been regularly observed by people that these ministry of manpower inspectors apparently do not wear proper PPE or follow site safety rules, hopefully none of them meet with an accident on a Site.

Right, so on the 6th of December we have the CEO of the OSC (Oman Society of Contractors) saying that 55,000 Omani jobs in the Construction sector are at risk, primarily because of the shortage of labour.

So you may be as confused by this article published on 28th December 2015 as I was which states that 33,000 NEW managerial jobs for Omanis are to be created in the Construction industry. You what? Oh, and it gets better, because guess who's quoted in the article as saying: "If implemented properly, 33,000 new managerial jobs will be created for Omanis in small companies in the sector, which either have a low Omanisiation rate or are not following Omanisation policies". Did you guess?

Of course, it's none other than Mr Shahswar Al Balushi, the CEO of the OSC!

So, in the space of 22 days, we've secured 55,000 Omani jobs, and also found another 33,000 in the process. But no new regulations on the release of labour clearances for Construction companies has happened. So, what, exactly did happen?

Well, Mr Al Balushi noted that these new 33,000 managerial (yes, management jobs) will be created at smaller companies "which are not connected to Government projects and are not linked with oil price fluctuations". Which is a bit hard to swallow, given that the oil price affects everyone and everything in an economy that is driven by hydrocarbon sales.

I can see the logic - Increase Omanisation first, and then the labour clearances will flow. The obvious problem with achieving this is finding enough competently trained Omanis to fill these managerial roles so that they don't merely become an increased overhead for a Contractor, but that they actually add value to the company. Given that there are already 55,000 Omanis in the Construction sector, it's a little bit of a head scratcher to see where exactly these additional 33,000 Managers are going to come from. But like I said, I can see the logic, I just can't understand where these managers are coming from. Sure, there's not that much expertise involved in building a house, but there is more expertise than you might think in building a bridge, or a road, or an airport, or an exhibition centre, or a Luxury hotel, and so on.

And so what I suspect will happen is that Contractors that want to do business here in Oman will stay small in size (because expansion will require too many highly priced managers which simply can't have much experience) and their costs will increase, and thus the costs for their services will increase too.

Extrapolate that out to the largest Contractors in the Sultanate and it really does confuse me as to how they are supposed to survive right now. By right now I mean, they already have contracts in place, and no labour to fulfil those contracts and the apparent only way to get that labour is to take on many more Omanis to get their Omanisation quotas up so they can hire more labour in order to do the work. Except that will most likely financially break them. And the Ministry of Manpower clearly are sticking to their guns because they're not giving any labour clearances. It should be pointed out that simply increasing Omanisation within a private company needs to be on the back of valid locally available talent. One cannot simply just employ 100 Omani secretaries (for example) for the purpose of increasing Omanisation just to get more labour clearances because that is not economically healthy, and sort of defeats the point of trying to develop industry outside of Hydrocarbons that is buoyant. People have to make money to be successful, the more successful the more business won, the more jobs created. Not the other way round.

Which is probably why two large Contractors that I'm aware of have made the decision to pull out of Oman in the last 6 months, I imagine more may be following them soon.

2016 will certainly be interesting.

le fin.
Petrol's going up, and musical chairs in the Construction industry Petrol's going up, and musical chairs in the Construction industry Reviewed by Sythe on Wednesday, December 30, 2015 Rating: 5


  1. I was very upset when I got the trail of text messages from Sabq today regarding all the new 'strategies' by which the government intend to resolve the current situation of the fall in oil prices. How can anyone survive in this 'anti' business environment that is now going to be even more complex. One of the texts said that Consumer protection will be monitoring the companies/business that increase the prices. In the same time, they claim to be supporting small and medium enterprises but then again when it comes to application nothing is very much different. On the contrary I found that the ministry of manpower procedures are getting more complex and difficult. If they truly want the country to survive this turmoil, they need to relax the laws, allow businesses to thrive and consequently the economy and omanisation levels will be reached.

  2. All of this and more happens mainly due to the expats working here. You people should leave now and make room for locals to live and prosper.
    The crude will go back to 100 USD ++ in the coming few months/years. At that time, You all can come back ... To pick up the pieces of what is left ... but till then ... Please don't stop us from meeting our doom ... We know what we are doing ... We need no guidance on how to tackle a global crisis ...

    :) :)

  3. @anonymous. Stop issuing visas to expats. And start issuing visas when oil prices reach 100USD++. Enough of this double standards.

  4. How many Omani construction managers do you need? Considering, Oman doesn't even offer a masters in residential engineering (just civil)? And really... our army is doing nothing much, just marching... Why not have them be a labour force for road building, bridge building (useful stuff for army peeps to know). We already have transportation for them, housing for them... feed them. In the end I bet the roads would be higher quality and people might have options with new skills earned to do something other than hope to retire on an armed forces pension.

    Confusing to me...

    Anyways, Omanise the labour force itself. Not the management. Raise their minimum wage. I am okay hiring an expensive Omani electrician, or plumber, or window fixer etc... but the highest skilled workers I usually find are ..... Turkish. So yeah. I have an Omani engineer who did my houses's floor plan and he was great. But the site engineer? Indian. The site inspection engineer from the Omani company I hired? Indian. Really that's a bit of a joke to me.

  5. Omanise the labour force? Are you joking...if this was acceptable to the locals then the issue of unemployment would not arise in the first place. Around the world you go..whether it be the US or Germany or India or Malaysia, you see the citizens of these countries involved in nation issue for these people in cleaning the streets or working out in the construction Oman it is a different case as the locals feel and believe that they are "entitled" to managerial positions and ever increasing salaries. For starters, accept that the Expats have contributed their sweat and blood to the development of this country and you still need them. Next, don't discriminate between locals and Expats and ensure a level playing field. Focus on efficiency and not entitlement and this will ensure that everyone is forced to give their best. Third, stop baby sitting locals as this will only add to lethargy and "take it easy" attitude. For once, lets put the nation first and not divide the nation based on citizenship. The current scenario is a global issue and we will need all the available support to survive this storm!!!

  6. @Anonymous

    Level playing field ?
    Expats would beat the locals by poles if they set rules for both equally. Besides, Its too late for any sort of correction. The region/country is already in a mess.

    In the coming days it would be interesting to see what transpires. Reaching for the beer !!!

  7. Anon: I probably know a hell of alot more Omanis than you;). And many would be happy to "omanise" the work force if we set a decent minimum wage and better working conditions in the construction industry in general. No need to discriminate then against the indian and pakistani workers who don't get holidays all the time, have no safety conditions, bad housing, etc.... Because Omanis (and me too, I'm Canadian) wouldn't put up with that kind of crap.

    Expats we need are those who are SKILLED> EDUCATED. For example, civil engineers with real experience. Contractors who can manage knowledge, personnel, schedules AND logistics. We don't need street sweepers. We don't need construction workers. We don't even need house maids if it boild down to it. I know, a lot of people have gotten used to living that way, but it isn't sustainable, and we know government jobs are (in majority) a waste on the economy. Soldiers, ministry peeps... like why do we have so many Omani teachers in the Minsitry of Education but we need to import Egyptian, TUnisian, etc... teachers still????

    Like, don't send away our Philipino nurses;)... but start with the construction industry. Require sites to have generators and ACs for workers.... Not that big of a deal. Give people what people were striking for as baggers and cashiers at Lulu;) to work in construction with apprenticeship oppurtunities in plumbing, electricians etc... That IS how it is structured in Western countries. Maybe not US where people use and abuse the Mexican labour force, but in Canada and the U.K.....

    And the issue exists because the government education system for Omanis do not address the labour requirements in Oman. Not everyone is meant to be an academic, a business manager, a doctor, an IT person (because how many IT people do we need???), or an engineer. Focus education towards this. It isn't being currently done. Saying 'let's import more underpaid undereducated likely to be ill treated workers' isn't fixing that problem, makes only a select few very rich, adds to corruption because if I'm an Indian labour I'm not going to complain the Ministry that my engineer is taking bribes to make the foundation as deep as it should be for a road etc....

    I agree on not discriminating against locals and expats... in terms of salary and benefits, but only in jobs that are already to standard. You have to be able a. fire Omanis. b. give expats the same chances as the Omanis who share the same job title and description as them. Like my work. I don't get maternity leave. Serriously. But Omani women in the same job do. Sucks. Makes me feel less even if my work is valued more. So I'll change eventually.

    However, he labour force in most private and construction sector jobs is corrupt, abusive, not safe, not highly skilled, and vastly underpaid or offset by poor worker living conditions. You can't say this is a lvel playing feild for Omanis. Or even Westerners. What Western electrician will wanna work in Oman? None. Anyways...

    That's about all I can say.

  8. And second anon: I know a lot of Omani women who are more qualified than me and hard workers. I might have better english (if I check my typos) but in our feild? They are more educated. Does my work even give them a chance to prove themselves? Never. Because they can't fire them... So as a result, they are unemployed, and no one will hire them. That's the flaw in the "educated/qualified/hard-working" Omani-coddlng system;). Not that there aren''t Omanis out there to do the work.

    That and what I've already said, about the no-previous-education required labour issues we have here in Oman.

  9. Hey Princess.... In case you didn't know.... No one here stops the locals from taking up the jobs of a construction worker or a sweeper or of those flipping burgers at the cafes.... Problem here is that the locals just don't see the need to do any of that.

    Why ? Here's why.... Oil was discovered here in the 1960s....full-scale development of the oil fields began under the control of Foreign Companies like Shell..... Oil alone provided this country with economic prosperity and substantial political leverage internationally. Life here rapidly developed from then on....
    Western expats were here drilling oil out and they needed a work force with "some standards" to help them drill and also build infrastructure this place lacked. The locals were of no help to them because these people were poor bedus living off the land. The ways of the modern man and industrialization was unknown to them. The other option available were the Asian expats next door (Yes, The Indians, The Pakistanis and the others). They came in, Did what they were expected to do and they are still doing a pretty good job by keeping things running so that oil keeps pumping out.
    The Omanis here…. being the natural sons of the soil ie.... inherited a region that was developed to the so called standards that we all see today…. Over short time….
    All of this came to the locals and it came with very little effort of their own…
    The locals still think and expect others to make things happen for them. Especially the new generation who feel that it is in their right to have it all.

  10. I normally don't reply on such blogs but wow.

    "And really... our army is doing nothing much, just marching... Why not have them be a labour force for road building, bridge building (useful stuff for army peeps to know)."

    So you propose that we use our well-trained men whose job is to protect our country to build roads and carry out non-emergency projects? That's really smart!

    "people might have options with new skills earned to do something other than hope to retire on an armed forces pension."

    You just insulted our armed forces and you should feel really sorry about that.

    "Anyways, Omanise the labour force itself."

    Right. And the minimum wage for an Omani is OMR 375 / mo. I can hire 7 expat workers for that money. Sad but true. A very smart solution again!

    " But the site engineer? Indian. The site inspection engineer from the Omani company I hired? Indian. Really that's a bit of a joke to me."

    Racist alert. Have you got something against South Asians? How does it feel up there on your high horse? Just because a lot of the labour are South Asian does not mean they are stupid and incapable of higher professions. It's just that their countries' economies have failed them.

    "No need to discriminate then against the indian and pakistani workers who don't get holidays all the time, have no safety conditions, bad housing, etc.... Because Omanis (and me too, I'm Canadian) wouldn't put up with that kind of crap. "

    You just did :)

    "And second anon: I know a lot of Omani women who are more qualified than me and hard workers. I might have better english (if I check my typos) but in our feild? "


    "I know a lot of Omani women who are more qualified than me and hard workers. I might have better english (if I check my typos) but in our feild? They are more educated. Does my work even give them a chance to prove themselves? Never. Because they can't fire them... So as a result, they are unemployed"

    I can't find the meaning behind this. Can someone help me here? Omani women have worse English than Miss Canada here and they are not given a chance to prove themselves at the workplace because they cannot be fired and therefore they have no job. What?!!!!! My head hurts.

    Way to go, Omani Canadian Princess. You insulted
    1) Omani women
    2) Omani Armed Forces
    3) South Asians just trying to make the best of the bad hand they've been dealt in this life.

    My proposed solution to all of the mess? Open up the market to outsiders and tax the life out of them. Win-win. Let people who have been living here for decades buy their properties and run their businesses under complete ownership. Remove visa restrictions for professions Omanis don't like to do or those jobs which are not feasible to hire an Omani for (No matter how good an Omani construction worker is, he is not as good as 7 workers. Sorry). And let's give a little credit to the expats too, shall we?

  11. Well summarised anonymous jan 1, the observation of miss canada (couldnt have done it better) and a sensible solution too. I think it might be going that way other than the foreigners owning property part.

  12. I imagine the armed forces are busy keeping Oman safe as there are no problems here unlike Yemen and KSA.

    The solution (in my mind) is to define a rate for every job irrespective of nationality and put Omanis on the same level as expats for job security, pay, conditions etc.

    Somehow (and this is the most difficult task), change the view that only management jobs are suitable for Omanis. Bring in trade trainers and give school leavers a trade that they can be proud of. Stop the job creation of ministry jobs and the imposition of 'managers' in SMEs.

    Oman will only grow when there are Omanis in every sector of the economy.

  13. @Omani Princess.

    in a nutshell, why don't you just say let's sink the Indian sub-continent? You save bandwidth, all that energy you're exerting to type and a whole lot of racist bull.

  14. I know my posts are full of typos. I write this really fast never check and often have a keyboard missing some letters if I am typing from home not work. My kids pick out my keys, sorry. I don't care that much about blogs, sorry, when I have things to write that I actually get paid for. Commenting doesn't warrant spell checking for me.

    If people want to misread what I wrote fine but I am not racist against Indians and Pakistanis. I am saying they deserve a fair wage and better working conditions. Until that EXISTS in, say the construction industry, Omanis are only going to want to MANAGE in the construction industry, not work in it. Because the expats in it now are being abused--- by what my own standards for myself and others are---based on a developed nation (what a joke those classifications are) context as well.

    OF COURSE expats helped build Oman, but low education but a PURELY manual labour based expat work force are not sustainable in terms of the money produced by the oil and gas sector these days so... standards have to be developed to get Omanis into these fields. Expats with low educational standards of a pure manual labour basis will eventually have to go. Otherwise make them citizens? But it doesn't make sense the way it is now from an economic standpoint. And I don't know how anyone could say that's wrong to say.

    About the ARMY and THE MINISTRIES. Both are over employed. They have way more employees than they need to function. That's what I am saying. Not all of our armed forces are in intelligence. Not all of them are guarding our borders. They should be trained for emergency responsiveness and defense, but the fact is a lot of them are not. The ones who are, are excellent. And I'm not insulting them. But they know they have more personnel than required at the moment. That costs a lot.

    I say this because I have a a lot of friends and family (all Omani) in the armed forces and only about 2 out of ten are doing what are actually military-type work. They have no real skills, sadly, unlike, people I know who come out of the Canadian Military, the Aussie, the British, the American....

    It is even worse for the Ministries. For every 8 useless Armed Forces peeps I see, there's 50 useless ministry people.

    Let people be offended by that. It is the truth and I say it because I love Oman and Omanis.

    THIS IS NOT SUSTAINABLE. There isn't the oil wealth to make it so.

  15. And what is offensive to Omani women that I say they should be hired by government and Ministries because they have the education, and the drive, if not the available skill-set the training would only be a four month period----to take my job per say? ...But their own government has made rules against them (since they can't be fired and are entitled to more rights than myself) despite saying "Omanise" the country.

    Again, I am saying something against the system in place for Omanisation. Not Omani women. I have tried, time and time again, to get a good-working, super smart, and probably-able-to-learn Omani woman into my field of work. The system doesn't allow it. The system is against Omani women. I'm pro for them.

  16. And if we had taxation, of course it would be fair for expats to own property and have full ownership of their own businesses. Since we don't, again, it generally doesn't make sense from an economic standpoint... I don't think that will ever happen. I am not against it... I think it would be "fairer" ---but it wouldn't be good for Oman without taxation.

    And as an expat, I don't know. Say I want to buy and build a house in Al Hail. Land at least 30, 000. Construction another 30, 000. For 60, 000 OMR + yearly health insurance, plus yearly schooling for my kids, plus a possible future tax on all that? It would be cheaper for me to buy and pay taxes in my home country right? So I don't know how many expats would want to do this. They'd have to love their job or the country of Oman A LOT. That's without thinking abou the ricing costs of petrol, electricity and water, and food;).

  17. And do you think it is a fair and decent wage (7 divided by 375) to pay around 50 something OMR a month, for six days a week of full-time work, for people who don't work with AC, don't have personal housing, or basic safety training and preventative measures and often limited health insurance. I've worked enough days in Emergency seeing men who've fallen off 6 story buildings but refuse care even though they have internal bleeding to know that much.

    Sure, it is cheaper. But it is wrong. We all know that. It's what is done. But that doesn't make it right. I can be an idealist to say that maybe, in Oman. But in my country, we pay the construction workers 375 a month at least. They are nationals. And they do good quality work. They start their own business. The money goes back into our economy not to any other country. It all makes sense from a long-term economic standpoint. So maybe I am not being an idealist afterall?

    Maybe it is racist to say things work better in other places in the world? I don't think so. The Prophet Mohammed (S.A.W) told people to leave what's bad and take what's good from any country or people.

    The way the construction sector currently exists in Oman, is pretty bad. I don't know how someone can swallow that this will last or benefit Oman and Omanis in the long-term at all. I can't and I'm not even Omani. I am sure a lot of Omanis (if they aren't making short-term or big money in the construction sector currently) don't.

  18. 4 not 6 storey!!!!! (see that's a bad typo because it isn't merely spelling, it changes information). I make typos. Don't like it, don't read anything I blog or comment about:). Sorry.

  19. Consider an expat worker deployed between 150 OMR a month (that would be cost to company), as against if an Omani is deployed which would cost anywhere above 300 OMR. Does it not hold back the businessmen here to be tempted to deploy more expats? I am quite sure that there are a lot of competitive workforce within Omani nationals who are more than eager. If the monetary part is made competitive between expats and Omani that coupled with rigorous education and well laid down Omanisation plan may be key for success

  20. This isn't exactly news is it...

    Income falls 80% you have to make a few savings and the biggest subsidy is road fuel - Oman has teh second cheapest fuel in the world. When prices were around $100 a bbl the price was 120Bz which meant that the Government was paying about 300Bz a liter everytime you filled up at the pump. So filling your SUV cost 10 OMR and the government chipped in about 25 OMR. The oil price is fallen now but the Government is still subsidising you by about 100Bz so its a good time to scrap or reduce subsidy and let the price follow the oil price in the future just like in the UAE.

    Electricity prices may go up in the future but not because of this - the price of gas (not LPG) to power/desalination plants went up last January 1 together with the price to industry.

  21. The way to get rid of expats in the construction industry is to make the minimum wage apply to the. Employers would then stop using labour instead of capital (like the flag twirlers at road works instead of using traffic signals or the guy who sweeps your street WITH A DUSTPAN AND BRUSH instead of a machine because it is cheaper paying dozens of them 3 or 4 OMR a day than buying a street-sweeping machine - Muscat Municipality we are looking at you here) and it would be worth upskilling the workforce with high value machine operators, masons, plumbers etc. In the UK skilled tradesmen earn as much as managers and are the base of many new businesses - here with a few notable exceptions people have no idea how to start a business as they have no skills they can use.

  22. "If people want to misread what I wrote fine but I am not racist against Indians and Pakistanis. I am saying they deserve a fair wage and better working conditions. Until that EXISTS in, say the construction industry, Omanis are only going to want to MANAGE in the construction industry, not work in it. Because the expats in it now are being abused--- by what my own standards for myself and others are---based on a developed nation (what a joke those classifications are) context as well."

    Wait. So when the govt. is talking about 'posting' us Omanis in the construction sector, you now suddenly have a realization that things were unfair on those OH SO POOR EXPAT WORKERS?!

    Hmmm. Something doesnt add up.

  23. It amazes me how all want to just get rid of expats. Construction requires skill. Skills are honed over years of repetition and discipline. You cannot expect freshers, no matter how well they excel in the training/vocational centers go ahead and single handedly make a building(assumimg this is after you have kicked out the expats).

    To my knowledge projects are executed as per the cost quoted, which is approved as per budgets(Govt.or Private) and considering the financial position of the country at present, i think the smart people would know that the last thing required is increasing costs of construction/infrastructural development by imposing minimum wages as this will definitely not help in completing ongoing projects. Further it will definitely shun most investment and further increase cost of construction to the point that it will not be feasible for government and even private developers to make buildings within alloted budgets.
    The problem is lack of money and the solution dedinitely is not in increasing the cost of something which at present suits economy of the country.
    The creation of jobs at managerial position in construction companies will take time since one can not manage an operation one is not familiar with. And you can never go to school to become a manager maybe in other business sectors. But in a field like construction you require to be around on site visit and learn only then can you manage. Expats are able to work better since they dont have any other commitments here other than work. Mainly, the government's rule of not permiting family visa to people earning a salary below OMR 600 has enforced the expats focus completely to the work he(no she since visa for women is extremely hard to come by these days and also since most of the omani women really are doin well workwise) has come here to do.

  24. Oil dollar: This hasn't been a "sudden" realization for me personally. I've felt it wasn't fair on the Indians and Pakistanis since the first I came here as a child in 1995.

    Of course, if you want to talk about Omanisation, you have to do so where the jobs are. Not make up fake over-catered over-righted over-paid positions in government. Right? The first place to do that are where the less-skilled sections we are importing labour in are, and figure out a way to make that sustainable. That's what I am saying.

    Anonymous: No one said kick out the expats... (okay one person did but their argument for that was a little weird)... But consider a single residential villa building site with 8 workers. Only the electrician and the site engineer have experience. The rest really don't at all. They learn as they build more houses, sure, the same way the local population theoretically could. Skilled, educated expats should be kept in training and management positions. Omanis without skills SHOULDN'T BE GIVEN those without the same experience and education.

    Yes in the short-term, it would affect construction. But it should. The wages and safety conditions now are terrible, as are occasionally checking the experience of imported workers. This costs Oman in the long-term. COnstruction companies should be making LESS profit. That's a fact. They should be spending more on equipment, and labour.

    Sure it is great to have people stuck in bad living conditions, without their families, to be totally focussed on their work for only 50 omr a month, for usually bad safty on site, and no, like acs in the workplace. All that is great for individual construction companies (who do not pay taxes either) to make much larger profits, with no direct benefit to Oman's economy or indididual Omanis unless said buildings or roads eventually turn out to be profit makers for the economy itself.

    Short-term win for a few Omanis, looks-like-we're-doing-something for the government, but again, in the longterm, not a step towards development, and lacking sustainability.

  25. And last anon: Using your rationality, which I don't object to, okay, let's go with that train of thought.

    a. New standards would not apply to existing contracts and projects (sadly for the workers, since sadly they agreed to work under those conditions). However, it should all new ones. Theoretically of course (since I don't see the government willing to ever do this, us all knowing how many Ministers /Ministry peeps have construction companies and projects on the go). The new budgets would relfect this. Yes, a project would cost more. But if it employed some Omanis (usefully---rather than say like those 8 extra photo-copying dudes in the diawaan---I'd rather seeing them mixing and hauling cement and learning to paint all day) it would go back into the economy long-term, and decrease services eventually, such a visa sections in the police, so less government cost for running that. Experience would take time to build, but education is usually a thirty year project if you want it done at a nationwide level.

    b. Of course you don't just suddenly replace expats. You have them working side-by side with Omanis and you start giving them equal rights (except maybe training oppurtunities---that should be given to Omanis) and better working conditions for both. Say that crew of 8 Pakistanis on a residental villa is now 4 Pakistanis and 1-2 Omanis (costs more so less workers). People will start to get stricter about completion timelines for even---like the delivery of sands and other--- building materials in contracts because time costs more now. I think that is better for the working culture in Oman.

    c. Make an effort to keep educated and experienced expats. By saying that, I mean gve them rights Omanis would have or reduce Omani rights. Serrious here. And I am talking real skills. Our site inspector, Indian, he's got 30 years experience and a masters degree. I don't think he should be replaced by an Omani unless and Omani's got exactly that.

    d. Make it possible to fire Omanis who don't preform to standard. Serriously. If you don't have this, Omanisation will never ever happen. The economy will eventually fail.

    e. Make some jobs by hour rather than by salary (electricians and plumbers are great examples of this), and if taxation is ever introduced, give expats the freedom to move about on a work visas, rather than chain them to an employer even for a two year contract. But tax Omanis too, or else this also, will result in everyone just leaving a sinking country. That's way later though, like thirty years after getting Omanis into skilled trades with experience, so maybe I am getting ahead of myself.

  26. By the way, deep down and in reality, I am expat woman, to whom Oman is my country. I experienced Canada, was born there, educated there, worked there, but I gave that up out of a love for Oman as a peaceful place. Not because I think Omanis are super awesome;). Not because this economy is great;). Not because the weather here is great;). Not because the government is fair;). Not because the Muslims are all suddenly practicing and good here (lol about that anywhere);). But because Oman is home. I don't believe passports define home for all people. But living among a lot of Omanis (do I even have expat friends anymore---should call back my kitchen designer and meet for for coffee---she's not Omani;) ) I find myself feeling I have to voice at least on english blogs, what I hear them saying.

    And the biggest thing I hear is towards government development of the economy, "it is always short-term in focus, otherwise, it is vague ten-twenty year plan that is not detailed enough to have the people advocating it accountable for its eventual failure (or lack of progress). There is usually little to no collaboration between Ministries in the design of any plan."

    I don't think it would be that hard to draft a decent ten year plan between the Ministry of Education, the Ministry of Manpower, and the Ministry of the Economy (painful, but not impossible I mean by not hard) to get Omanis into trades to (in ten years time) reduce the importation of no-education no-skills manual labour, and create within that time, a minimum wage guideline for different jobs in the construction sector for both expats and Omanis seeking the same profession, as well as increased safety training (come one, it doesn't take long to get people to do a worker's safety course), and better working conditions. Like break tents with acs for road workers. Machines, instead of manpower for streetsweeping, etc.... Trades eventually get paid as well as management, if one is experiences 10 years in an industry with no blackmarks, so that would help by cutting stupid usueless fake management jobs in government.

    Honestly I wish I could think of a better solution for housemaids but as of yet I can't...Besides asking society to change completely and be as tough as their grandmother's were. But construction is easy. There are so many models to use, it is a wonder (not really----corruption and short-term sight) that it hasn't been done already.


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