Tuesday, October 11, 2016
Image taken from the Times of Oman
A bit of late night excitement tonight as the Times of Oman published this story on its website. The story, if you haven't read it already, reports that Said Bin Nasser Al Saadi, the adviser to the Minister of Manpower stated, “We will remove the NOC option. It will be removed. The plan is being considered seriously".

Hold the phone, stop the press, and all that stuff.

Hot on the heels of the Qataris coming out and saying that they were binning their NOC situation over there, and the Emiratis saying the same in the UAE, Oman's now, apparently, "seriously considering" removing the NOC. I find it a little amusing that the quote is: We will remove the NOC option. It will be removed..... the plan is being considered seriously. Mixed signals?!

Anyway, I think we can take from this news that its highly likely that the NOC process will be scrapped - or at least heavily reigned in from its current status. But lets not jump for joy just yet, seeing is believing after all.

The Times article then went on to state something which, for me, said all you really needed to know (and I actually blogged that this would happen back in 2014 along with suggesting that foreign investors wouldn't find a restricted labour market appealing) - There's been a brain drain in Oman...

Recent data shows that the number of expatriates holding doctors, masters, higher diplomas, university and diploma degrees declined by more than 1,800 in the first seven months of 2016.

Mmmhmmm, thats 1,800 less highly trained expatriate workers in highly skilled positions leaving Oman... and not being replaced. Well, not being replaced by expatriate workers with similar qualifications.

I guess the real driver (apart from perhaps having an excuse to reverse course based on their Qatari and Emirati cousins) might be the recent report from the The Global Competitive Report 2016-17 said that (quoted verbatim from the ToO article) "restrictive labour regulations, inefficient government bureaucracy, inadequately educated workforce, and poor work ethics in the workforce are issues that could discourage investors from putting their money in Oman". Gulp, well that doesn't sound very good.

I guess this is basically what a lot of people have been saying since July 2014 when this ban started, I did too. Hopefully this news will be the start of brighter things for foreign investment into Oman, and genuine employment liberty for all employees working in Oman!

Perhaps we'll all get a National Day present in the form of adjusted employment visa rules! Time will tell!

More soon!

le fin.


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