Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Slider Station Restaurant Poisoning Patrons Update.....

Last week, as mentioned in Muscat Daily, quite a few individuals (some report up to 40) became sick after eating breakfast at Slider Station Restaurant at Shatti Beach. This is a 'hip' mall complex located on the beach with many restaurants near the Intercon Hotel. Slider Station serves mini burgers called 'sliders' each with a different theme with names such as the 'Obama' and 'Dangerous'.

It's been pointed out the ingredients for the infected food came from Maweleh market which has some questionable standards as anyone can basically bring their goods to sell. However, The food establishment itself checked out on health and safety standards. Moreover, some individuals are still recovering in the hospital. And, it's been mentioned some are relatives of high profile officials and that the bacteria came from an infected person or persons working at the restaurant. We hope a fast recovery for all.

-----------------
http://www.muscatdaily.com/Archive/Oman/Lab-results-to-decide-action-in-Qurm-food-poisoning-case-33f3

MUSCAT - 
The Muscat Municipality is awaiting lab results in the Qurm food poisoning case to decide its next course of action. Over 20 people took ill after having breakfast at a restaurant in the area last week.
Qais al Kashri, director of Muscat Municipality’s health affairs department told Muscat Daily that any action will be based on test reports of food samples collected. “Results will be ready on Monday,” he said. “We took samples from the food items that may have caused the poisoning and sent them for lab tests, coordinating with the Ministry of Health (MoH). Some reports were in by Sunday, but not all.”
Following the complaints, a team from the municipality inspected the restaurant and questioned its staff. It found that the establishment was adhering to all health and safety norms, he said.
He said that egg and meat samples from Mawaleh Central Market from where ingredients for the breakfast served came, were also collected.
Kashri said the municipality received the first complaint of the incident on the evening of April 14.
Muscat Private Hospital and Al Raffah Hospital were among the hospitals which received the affected.
“We received some complaints while most cases were registered at various hospitals and health centres run by MoH,” Kashri said.
http://www.sliderstation.com/oman/home/
The 'Obama'  I presume...



Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Well-known Logos in Oman: Before and After

Most of these logos have been 'updated' in the last five years or so....

The  rebranding of Oman....
---------------

Before

'Old sick sak'



After

"New Wings of Oman"

'The new logo — a gold and silver swirl — represents the contemporary rendition of frankincense smoke...'
.......interesting- first flying with a large knife and friends ...now flying with smoke .......

-------------------------------------------------------------

Before


After


"Beauty Has an Address - Oman"

Logo Explanation

Ship, Marine, Mountain, Smoke (Squiggly lines from right to left)
It also spells Oman in Arabic lettering 'عمان'

" Taking its inspiration from the wonderful diversity that is Oman –amongst other things, Arabic calligraphy, our marine environment and magnificent landscape, local textiles, Oman’s historic leadership in trade and pioneering role in exploration and of course, frankincense, which has been at the core of our culture and economy for generations. Expertly crafted, the brand mark draws on a rich and vibrant colour palette which reflects Oman’s natural bounty.

More specifically, and looking at the brand from right to left, the first colour, dawn purple, represents the dhow; Musandum aquamarine green is inspired by Oman’s rich marine environment and the turtle in particular; sky blue is taken from the silhouettes of the mountains; and the Salalah green is the essence of frankincense.

The four part of the brand mark were drawn in an organic fashion to demonstrate continuous natural growth. The typography in both Arabic and English were designed in a contemporary manner using soft cornered San Serif, creating a contrast with the symbol and providing a firm base beneath it. This contrast is intended to project an image of strength, continuous growth and a solid link with Oman’s rich history”. – HH Highness Sayyid faisal Al Said (Times of Oman).

-------------------------------------------------

Before


'Connected with you'

After


'Together' 

----------------------------------------------------
Before


After


-----------------------------------------------------------

Before



After


'Inspired by the National flag of Oman, the new logo incorporates the trilogy of the country’s national colours presented in the shape of the flag as it gently unfurls in the breeze,' NBO.





Sunday, April 20, 2014

Reports of Oman News Agency (ONA) Hacked


Hackers on Sunday targeted the website of Oman’s official news agency, singling out and mocking Algeria’s newly re-elected president Abdelaziz Bouteflika as a handicapped “dictator.”

Oman News Agency said its website had been hacked and that “false” reports were posted on the site.

The hackers reportedly distorted a news story about a letter from Oman’s Sultan Qaboos to Bouteflika congratulating him for securing a fourth term in Thursday’s presidential election.

In the false letter, the Omani leader described Bouteflika as a “handicapped” president of the “dictatorship” of Algeria, according to newspapers in the Gulf and North Africa.

He also wished Bouteflika a “10th tenure” as a president, in a sarcastic reference to the Algerian leader’s 15 years in power, the reports said.

The letter was removed from ONA’s website.

ONA apologized to its clients, saying it continues to publish stories that agree with the sultanate’s policy of “mutual respect with brotherly and friendly states.”

Bouteflika, 77, was re-elected with more than 80 percent of the vote despite having suffered a stroke last year that prevented him from campaigning in person. 




 

Sunday, March 30, 2014

'Daring' Omanis jump into overflowing wadi...

Wadi Qabaat, two days ago during the rains....

For video: http://instagram.com/p/mDREH2BzdX/#




هذا المكان في دماء والطايين / بلده مس/ وادي قعبت
This place is in Dima wa Tayeen (wilayat) / village Mis / Wadi Qaabat

Tuesday, March 25, 2014

AMIDEAST is now offering Arabic classes.

AMIDEAST is now offering Arabic classes. Please see flyer.

http://www.amideast.org/oman/learn-english/learn-arabic



Monday, March 24, 2014

Sunday, March 23, 2014

Superman in 'GCC'

This has been going around the internet lately originally out of Turkey. 

http://modernmuslimah.tumblr.com/post/22646038140/modernmuslimah-tumblr-com

Monday, March 17, 2014

Oman News Agency -> Topics -> News Photoes

Another major typo; this time in Oman News Agency's main navigational bar, 'NEWS PHOTOES' instead of 'PHOTOS'. It is even a graphic. I could not find 'photoes' as a plural spelling in British or American English.  Not that we all don't make typos from time to time; I know I make many.  However, most of us are not the Oman News Agency, 'under the jurisdiction of the Ministry of Information,' and 'the official channel for news about the Sultanate and it is the centre,' established by a Royal Decree. But, to keep things in perspective, former US VP Dan Quayle made a similar error by the misspelling 'pototoe' at a children's spelling bee.



http://www.omannews.gov.om/ona/english/newsMore.jsp



Sunday, March 16, 2014

Hail Oman! & Dubai Storm

These photos were reportedly taken on the road from Ibri to Muscat on Saturday evening. Apparently, the area was hit with huge hail stones.




It hardly looks like Oman except for the 'abaya' in the distance.



and in Dubai....

Storm heads to Burj Khalifa
'shoofu' Look 'aasfa' Storm 'khateer' danger


https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1QzA26yus50&feature=youtu.be&a
When Burj Khalifa disappears into the rain in the UAE...

Tuesday, March 11, 2014

Housing for Expats in Oman

I thought to put together some suggestions for where or how to find housing for expats who are coming to Oman. Sometimes, the employer will provide housing, but in alternate one may be given a 'housing allowance' or one might prefer to find housing on his or her own. 

In general, if renting from a realty company, one should be prepared to hand over 12 post-dated rent checks in advance (the system here in Oman) or a large up-front payment and sign a contract; however, if renting directly from a private party, one may be able to work out a deal to pay by cash or check month-to-month. 


Where to Find Housing in Muscat / Oman 

1, Baitoman.comBaitOman.com provides the largest search portal of properties for Oman.
http://www.baitoman.com/. Real Estate company and private listings. 

2, Dubizzle.com - Classifieds, the 'craigslist' of Oman. One can find house/room shares, as well as, apartments and villas for rent. Many private listings.
http://oman.dubizzle.com/en/muscat/property-for-rent/search/?city=24

3, Real Estate Companies - Using an agent may be helpful in the beginning and many higher end  properties are listed with them. It could be reassuring to know the rental is legitimate and to have someone to introduce you to the different areas and types of properties.  Be prepared to pay a premium on the rate for the housing though. 


b) Engel  & Voelkers Oman  - http://www.engelvoelkers.com/oman/

c) Cluttons Oman  - http://www.oman.cluttons.com/


e) Better Homes Oman - http://oman.bhomes.com/oman/index.xhtml

f) Hilal Properties - http://www.hilalprp.com.om/

Outside Muscat, in smaller cities, going with a local agent can greatly facilitate finding housing. Sometimes, your employer or PRO can provide a name of someone. However, if left in the 'cold', go to the local sook and look for shops that let cars or housing and ask inside if they know someone to help you out that deals in real estate.  Normally, everyone knows someone that can hook you up. 

4, Times of Oman -  See the classified section in print, as well as, check in other major newspapers for room shares, villas and apartments. 

5, 'Boots on the ground search' 
If you find a neighborhood you like, drive around and take numbers down on the 'for rent' signs and even snap a photo along with the 'way' number. Many properties are only listed this way. It might be most helpful to have an Omani friend or an Arabic speaker to call on your behalf in case of a communication issue, but also because they most likely can negotiate the best rate for you. 

6, FB Group: MUSCAT & OMAN - Flats for rent
https://www.facebook.com/groups/omanflats/
As pointed out by oman-collective-intelligence on his thorough list of FB groups in Oman:
http://www.oman-collective-intelligence.com/2014/04/facebook-groups-in-oman.html



Special Housing Communities for Expats 

Some of  housing  falls under the designation of Integrated Tourist Complex ('ITC') meaning foreigners are allowed to buy property in the complex. Units are rented out also. Most complexes have their own amenities such as a pool or golf club and are gated. Dress code is relaxed and pets are generally allowed. 

Muscat

1, The Wave (ITC) - http://www.thewavemuscat.com/en
'Spread along a stunning 6km stretch of Muscat’s coastline, this world-class mixed-use community comprises luxury residential properties, retail and dining facilities and Oman’s only signature designed PGA Standard 18 hole links golf course, designed by Greg Norman' 
Located between Azaiba and Seeb. One-bedroom apartments start around OMR600+. Popular with expats. Onsite shopping, restaurants and a bookstore.


http://www.thewavemuscat.com/
2, Dolphin Village - http://www.dolphinvillagemuscat.com/
'An ideal destination for spacious luxury living in a clean and safe environment.'
Rates start at 675 OMR/mo,  furnished or unfurnished, long term or short term.
Located in Boshar.


http://www.dolphinvillagemuscat.com/
3, Muscat Hills (ITC) - https://www.muscathillsgolf.com/
'A 1.2 million square metre development set in a unique hillside location with spectacular panoramic mountain and sea views over the Gulf of Oman. Muscat Hills is a mixed use development with upscale residential villas and apartments, an 18-hole championship golf course, country club and hotel' (hotel not built yet)
Located behind the airport and near the new ExpresswayThe major reality firms let villas and apartments at Muscat Hills. Prices start from around OMR800.


Muscat Hills
4, Ras al Hamra - PDO 'camp' and Development Project - old and new housing developments for PDO employees and their families. Located near Qurm in Ras al Hamra near PDO refinery.
https://muscat.globaloutpostservices.com/about/living-in.dot


http://www.pdorc.com/
5, Bareeq al Shatti - http://www.bareeqalshatti.com/ - http://oman.bhomes.com/oman/bareeq-al-shatti.xhtml
The Bareeq Al Shatti complex is considered one of the major real estate projects in Shatti Al Qurum, Muscat. The complex is equipped with all modern amenities and enjoys the different views of the sea and mountains. Furnished apartments centrally located near Intercon Hotel and Al Sharuj exit.


Taif.me.uk - Bareeq Shatti

5, Muscat Oasis Residences - http://www.muscatoasisresidence.com/
'Muscat Oasis Residence Complex is an aesthetically designed complex that has now become a landmark in the city of Muscat and has set standards and lent credence to the art of living.' Large complex, 3 pools, health club, gardens
Location: Bowshar



Sohar

6, Palm Gardens -  http://prestigeoman.com/
'250,000 sq.mts of sheer luxury - offering elegant Deluxe apartments and opulent Luxury villas. With world-class amenities to match.' Available on corporate and private Rental.

7, Sohar Aluminum Housing Complex


About Neighborhoods in Muscat & Oman

Muscat - The following links provide information on various neighborhoods

1, Expat Woman has put together a list and descriptions of the following neighborhoods:
Ruwi, Madinat As Sultan Qaboos (MSQ), Shatti Qurm, Qurm, Al Azaiba, Al Ghubra, Al Boshar, As Seeb/Hail, Al Khawair

2, Muscat Mutterings has a nice write-up on neighborhoods in Muscat:

The consensus seems to be Madinat Sultan Qaboos is one of the best expat areas to live in with Al Azaiba growing in popularity and cost. There's also nice beach area in Azaiba. The 'expat complexes' such as 'the Wave' are also sought after. Qurm has become a bit dated for the price; however, Qurm Heights (near Crowne Plaza) is a premier area with some new developments.

Many expats choose to stay in Al Khawair as the location is centralized, lots of shopping is available and the pricing is in the mid-range. In choosing housing, it is important to think of the commute timings from home to office or school. Muscat is quite spread-out and the rush-hour can be debilitating. However, everyone's needs or tastes are different and cost may be a factor. Rents are high in Muscat compared to outside Muscat.

High rent areas (*OMR 650++): MSQ, Qurm areas, Al llam, The Wave, Dolphin
Medium (*OMR 350+) : Azaiba+, Al Khawair, Bosher Heights, Ansab, Mawalah, Al Ghubra
Lower (*OMR 200+): Wadi Kabir, Ruwi, Seeb, Al Hail, Muttrah, Darsayt, Bustan, Al Khoud
*Bottom prices for a small apartment. Villas could be double or triple the price. 

Newly Developed Areas:

Al Ansab. Al Ansab has recently been developed with the opening of the new Expressway. It's near Bousher and features villas and apartments. It's far from the beach, but the streets are quiet and the rents are less for new villas and buildings.

Bawsher Heights. Bosher Heights to the west of Bosher is also in the process of being developed. It is a peaceful neighborhood with quality residences and parks.

The MGM Mall at the Tilal Residences. New complex built within the mall in Ghubra area. Lots of traffic. http://oman.bhomes.com/oman/tilal-residence.xhtml

Other areas not mentioned in above posts.

Muttrah. It is possible to live in Muttrah but it's not for everyone. It's an historic area with several sooks and forts. Very noisy. Traditionally, many Liwati people live with in the 'gates'.  

Darsayt. Between Qurm and Ruwi. Same exit as Darsayt Lulu's. Some newer buildings. 

Al Khoud.  Al Khoud is over by Sultan Qaboos University. Lots of shops and restaurants are on the main street. Many students live in the area.

Bustan. Near the new parliament buildings and the Bustan Hotel. There is a beach (same as Bustan hotel's beach) and farm. Some new 'luxury' buildings are going up. A bit far from some areas in Muscat.

Wadi Kabir Near Ruwi. Offers some decent housing at lower rents on opposite side of Bakhwon development and also some run down buildings. Mixed neighborhood; Omani families and expats. 


Muscat Neighborhoods. Click to enlarge.


Map of Muscat Neighborhoods. Slightly outdated.

Sohar

1, Palm Gardens
2, Al Tareef neighborhood located near the Safeer mall
3, Near Sohar University
4, On/near the corniche  
5, Behind the Crowne Plaza Hotel, Majan Housing Complex
6, May want to avoid the Liwa area due to pollution from Sohar Port Complex.

Sur
1, Almost anywhere but skip the old part of Sur and the sook as they are known to flood out. 

Buraimi
1, Behind the Buraimi Hotel and back is not known as a 'good' neighborhood. It is possible to find inexpensive villas and apartments in Buraimi. Overall, the cost of living is much lower than Muscat.





HIV Vaccines for Newborns? Ministry of Health Oman Major Typos....

http://www.moh.gov.om/en/nv_menu.php?o=health_education/immunization.htm

See highlites below. Hopefully, they meant 'HIB' the vaccine for Haemophilus influenzae type B vaccine, not HIV - first dose.



Sunday, March 9, 2014

More Convictions in Oil Sector Graft Cases / Galfar, PDO / P. Mohammad Ali - 15 years

The First Court of Instance in Muscat issued several verdicts on Sunday ranging from three years jail to 15 years jail time for ex-officials mainly from PDO and Galfar Oman companies. Some of the verdicts seem to be open for appeal according to Gulf News Article:

http://gulfnews.com/news/gulf/oman/ex-officials-of-oman-s-galfar-get-15-years-and-hefty-fines-1.1301545

Also, at the Curtis Law Blog one can read the details on Oman's ratification of the UN Convention Against Corruption:

http://omanlawblog.curtis.com/2014/03/omans-ratification-of-un-convention.html


P/ Ali Mohammad ex-Galfar official: Source Gulf News

FB Page 'Save Dr. Ali Mohammad'

https://www.facebook.com/pages/DrPMohamed-Ali/141924759190855

Dr, Ali has been involved in many philanthropic efforts in Oman and India. He has a large base of  'supporters' in both countries. He did not appear at the trial Sunday.


List

Galfar

1. Former Managing Director, P. Mohammad Ali,  15 years jail, OMR 1.7 M  fine, deportation

2. 'Former Deputy' to Galfar,  15 years, OMR534,000, deportation

ability to appeal

PDO

1. Former General Manager of Engineering Sadiq Suliaman,  6 years (serve 4 years) OMR200,000, dismissal 

2. Former project manager, Mohammad Al Maskati, 3 years, OMR150,000,  dismissal

3. Former Head of Projects, Nasser Al Alawi, 3 years, OMR24,000, dismissal

4. Former Head of Contracts North Sector, Khalid Al Garadi, 3 years, OMR 500,000, dimissal

5. Former Head of North Sector,  Saif Al Hanai, 3 years, OMR 1M, dismissal

Smart Technical Services Company

1. CEO, Basil Maki, 2 years, OMR150,000

Appeals 100,000 OMR




Friday, March 7, 2014

Plan to build bridge from Musandum, Oman to Iran

A new bridge is being planned to connect Oman to Iran according to the Iranian Ambassador. 'A breadth of 39 km from the Strait narrowest passage...'

See:

http://gulfnews.com/news/gulf/oman/oman-iran-plan-causeway-over-hormuz-1.1300526

or

http://alwatan.com/details/8362

http://main.omanobserver.om/?p=62342



Thursday, March 6, 2014

Current Events: Putin Photos

yallah


In the 1960s-1970s, the Dhofar region was a source of contention in the superpower confrontation between Russia and the West. It's rumoured a few old timers in Dhofar speak Russian due to Soviet training.

Wikimaps. Russian label Salalah, 'small mountain'

Friday, February 28, 2014

'Oil Corruption Case' Verdicts Announced

Muscat Appeals Court

(Over a bribe for a contract in favour of Korean Company concerning Oman Petrochemical Aromatics Company/Sohar)

CEO, Oman Oil Company, Mr A Wahibbi, 23 years jail, 4M restitution, permanent dismissal

Ex minister of National Economy, Mr Raisi, 10 years, 4M fine

The Korean national involved, 10 years, 4M fine, life-long deportation






Thursday, February 27, 2014

Remittances (10% of Oman's GDP flows outward) / Private vs Public Sector Jobs in Oman

Oman's remittance outflow is about 10% of the GDP according the World Bank. 

As reported by the Migration and Remittances Factbook 2011 put out by the World Bank, Oman has a remittance outward flow of 5.3 billion USD which is 10% of Oman's GDP.  According to rankings, Oman is 3rd in the world in outward flow remittances as a percentage of GDP and 12th in dollar amount. 

One may ask the question, has the outward flow become a drain on Oman or do the benefits of migrant labour outweigh the financial depletion? The inward flow is only 39 million USD. A few months ago, there was discussion of taxing remittances at 2%, but the thought has been put on hold for further study. One area where remittance issues and jobs intersect is in the private sector. According to figures in Gulf Business:

'Out of 1,533, 679 private sector employees, Omanis constituted around 224,698 of the workforce while the number of expat employees rose to 1,308,981 as of 2013, according to the Ministry of Manpower.'

If you calculate outward remittances with total expat workforce of about 1.2 million, the remittance per expat is about $4400 per year. 

www.worldbank.org/prospects/migrationandremittances.

Some of the migrant labour hold jobs in construction or domestic help earning salaries in the range of 100 to 250 USD per month plus accommodation which is much less than the average expat remittance per year. This unskilled labour force most likely adds to the economy as construction projects can be built cheaply while most Omanis would not take such jobs. They also for the most part live separated from society in labour camps without much leisure time in what Westerners may classify as 'slave like' conditions even though the horrible reality is that the conditions for them back home may even be worse.

In addition, the jobs for highly qualified experts involving specialized skills in engineering, medicine and finance which expats often fill due to a lack of number of qualified Omanis most likely brings a value-added benefit to the economy and society especially in sectors such as oil and healthcare. 

However, many of the jobs for the skilled workforce in the private sector are held by expats especially those from the Indian subcontinent. According to the 2010 census, 657,443 or 80.6% of expats hail from India, Bangladesh or Pakistan. These are the jobs which are becoming in contention. Many Omanis are now qualified for these jobs with the improvement of the development of education in Oman. However, many Omanis leave the private sector or prefer only to work in the public sector. An exception may be public employees who retire and then take a senior level post in the private sector.
(http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Demographics_of_Oman)

This is a symptom of some real dysfunction going on the private sector in regard to how to attract the Omanis with the skills and how to develop and retain them which seems to be failing in the private sector with the exception of larger international companies. It is unclear if the benefits outweigh the negatives in bringing migrant labour for the jobs Omanis can effectively handle when many Omanis are unemployed or are recent graduates and need to join the work force. 

Many of the expats have made significant contributions to the development of Oman over the last forty years as Oman ramped up its education and infrastructure.  One issue that is not discussed much openly is that some expats in the private sector are resisting the influx of Omani workers from taking the skilled jobs in the private sector and from doing well in indirect and overt ways. Sometimes, people remark that the Omanis are 'lazy',  'unskilled' or other such negativisms which may be true in some cases, but many Omanis are skilled and come out of school excited wanting to progress and do try hard.

"The World Bank report on Sustainable Growth and Economic Diversification for Oman stated, “private sector expatriate employers have revealed a tendency, for linguistic or cultural reasons, to favour their own nationals over Omanis when hiring new workers.” "
(http://www.suehutton.co.uk/articles/omanisation.php)

This seems a natural progression as the job has been the expat's income source (many with much higher salaries than they would receive back in the 'subcontinent'), but, now, the educated Omani is a competitor and threat to the expat's financial security and visa in Oman. Many of these expats have spent many years working in Oman and have families. This plays out in many ways in the private sector such as not training the Omani (as there is little incentive to train someone to take over one's job), backstabbing the Omani, only hiring the Omani to meet nationalization quotas but then bringing over other expats in the same position to give them a chance at earning the salary, making life difficult at the job for the Omani, ganging up on the Omani with the expat's copatriots,  etc. 

Although it's a sensitive issue, it does happen in the work force. If you ask around or just listen, you can find many Omanis who say they have experienced this and even go as far to describe the phenomena with phrases such as the 'Mumbai Mafia', etc. If one were to peruse forums such as Sablat Oman in the 'politics and government' section, one would find there is no dearth of rants on the subject.

Despite the pleasant appearances and affected smiles, underneath it all it seems rather doggie dog for survival for some of the expats which rarely people talk about publicly. There are reported cases where lecturers have paid bribes to recruiters in India to place them in a lucrative teaching position in Oman which is totally counter productive to Oman as it totally forgoes any chance of getting the highly qualified teachers based on merit. There are, of course, many expats not engaging in such behaviors.(http://www.muscatdaily.com/Archive/Oman/Lecturers-from-India-paying-bribes-for-jobs-in-Oman-2cs3)

In addition, it is not uncommon for the expat's salary to be higher than the Omani's salary in the private sector for similar work for mid-level or entry jobs (not necessarily in high level positions). Even if, at first, the Omani is less qualified but then catches up, his or her salary is still less than the expat's. This may be considered unfair and does not inspire work cooperation.

Even in primates, it has been shown that equity is important; two monkeys will do the same trick for the same treat. But, when one monkey got a better treat such as a grape in the experiment,  the other monkey refused to do the same trick again, threw his lesser treat back and banged on his cage. (http://www.ted.com/talks/frans_de_waal_do_animals_have_morals.html /  Time 12:45)

Fairness seems deeply embedded  in the human psyche, so if it were your country and you were getting less than the outsiders for the same work while making sincere efforts on the job front; it would be understandable one might 'bail' on the private sector and would get a job in the public sector where there is job security, schedule of promotions, more 'perks', status and a majority Omani workforce where Arabic is the main language spoken. 

Public sector jobs are becoming more costly to the Omani government in terms of the budget. It seems through programs such as Omanisation and limits on expat visa numbers, the Omani government is trying to increase the number of Omanis in the private sector; however, indicators show the number of expat workers have been increasing.

Sometimes, officials ask Omanis through press releases to 'do their duty as citizens' and work in the private sector, but this coaxing has not worked all that well. In general, there are more 'perks' in working in the public sector over the private sector. 10% of GDP is quite an outflow; even a partial reinvestment into the Omani economy would be beneficial. Below is a list of various factors that may contribute to why many Omanis would choose public sector. 


Public vs Private (from the best of my understanding)

Salaries:
In general, salaries are higher for an entry & mid-level worker (not necessarily senior positions) in the public sector. Bachelor degree holders can expect around 900 OMR; whereas is the private sector 400-650 OMR. Private sector employers may bring cheaper expat employees compared to the cost to hire and train an Omani. 

There are more observed holidays in the public sector and additional perks such as yearly 'gifts' such as turbans and  'bonuses'. The public sector has more job security as far as reliable payment and long-term viability of the government job. Private companies may struggle to pay their employees or go out of business.

Pensions:
Pensions may be collected after 15 years of service in the public sector but after 26 years in the private. Pensions are calculated up to 80% of gross salary (includes allowances) in the public sector, but in the private sector based upon the base salary which can be significantly lower. Some equalization is supposed to take place in the future.

Promotions:
Generally, based upon years of service according to a schedule in the public sector. Normally, every three to four years, one will move up a grade. In the private sector, it's subject to company rules and whims. 

Work Environment:

The public sector consists of 70-75% Omani workers; where as the private sector is 25-35% Omani depending on what statistics you look at. Expats dominate Omanis in the private sector in numbers and some Omani prefer the comfort of working with fellow citizens and the job security in the public sector. Working in the public sector may be seen as more acceptable to certain families. The private sector may pose a language barrier to some Omanis as many expats only speak English and their native languages. 

Some overall observations about the Omani workforce in both sectors are: 

1) There is system in place in which does not support employee motivation based upon merits. This leads to inefficiency and lack of innovation and initiative in the whole job market. Many jobs are promoted based upon 'wasta', nepotism and on promotion cycle not on actual merit. Even in the private sector, manager expats may nominate and support others from their same region back home completely ignoring the merit's of others at the company.  Therefore, there is no incentive to do anything more than what you are told unless the individual has an inner drive or quest for achievement greater than the repression.

 2) It is very difficult to fire an Omani at a job. Basically, unless they show up to work with whiskey bottle in hand staggering around shouting vulgarities and the evidence cannot be disputed, it is extremely hard to 'can' someone. Omanis know this, and it is ultimately a work de-motivator. This also goes to the merits, if the standard of keeping a job is so low then why bother to push the envelop or be competitive.  

3) The job training and internship opportunities are quite inadequate unless at a large international company and even then there are not enough opportunities available to the younger generation of Omanis coming onto the job scene. And, the practical job skills are not quite there yet. 

There is an idea that a certificate makes you an expert or qualified and practical experience and actual skill is well underrated. Promotion is based on certificates and seniority if not wasta not necessarily on job performance - another downer for job merits. The education is still not up to par - I think mostly due to the lack of qualified teaching professionals at the university level and lack of practical skills training.

Also, the Omani grade school curriculum needs to be re-inspired to fit the course of study at the universities and job skills.  For example, only about one subject is taught in English in Omani school, but then Omani students are expected to obtain certain scores on the British IELTs or American TOEFL English language tests or an in-house  'foundation English test' to gain entrance to the universities here. In grade school, math is taught using Arabic numbers and wording with some English translation, but then at university the math and science is taught in English causing a lot of  unnecessary failures. Furthermore, generally, the English system is used in private sector jobs. Kids that attend international schools fare better.  

Omani universities need more diversity in teaching professionals who have quality work experience in their fields. It may be more expensive to bring more qualified people, but in the long run it will be well worth it. The teacher recruiting for the university system in Oman is seriously corrupted and needs a total overhaul. In some university English departments, it is hard to find a native English speaker. Other GCC countries have faced similar challenges. Saudi has dealt with it by sending 100,000 students abroad to study, and the UAE has brought some top educators and partnered with top international universities in the UAE. (http://www.sorbonne.ae/EN/Pages/default.aspx)

Oman does not tax salaries in Oman, so the expats remit the money without putting money back into the public system all while using the public subsidized services such as roads, petrol, electricity, etc  for which Oman pays. About 1/3 of the population are expats, so it adds up. Many expats especially from Asian and the 'subcontinent', in general, save as much as possible and remit almost all their money to their country each month (which seriously mitigates any money multiplier effect if they spent or were taxed on the money in Oman). The interest rates on savings deposits in India, for example, are much higher than in Oman.

Oman discussed putting a 2% tax on remittances which seemed unpopular, but putting some restrictions on remittances may be in order such as requiring a percentage of the funds from workers at a certain salary level to be reinvested or held in Oman for those who remain here long term - say more than five years.  In contrast, many European expats tend to spend a larger proportion of their incomes in Oman and hold their more of their money in Omani banks while in the country. Also, many European expats tend to stay in Oman for shorter stints; whereas, other expat migrant groups tend to be 'lifers' staying in excess of 20 years or more and only returning to their countries to retire. Unlike the case in other countries with a migrant work force, expats in Oman are not integrated (probably purposely so) and keep a separate or even 'sub' existence from Omanis even if living in Oman almost their whole life which I find ultimately not beneficial for the groups. 

Overall, Oman has made enormous strides if one looks at their progress over the last 40 or so years; however, the workforce transition seems to have its challenges. Oman will need to incentivize the private sector in such a way that personal job interests of employees and expats, company aims and Oman's goals line-up better. In addition, new fair methods to promote innovation and to reward Omanis for their merits and  accomplishments at work and at school are needed. 10% of Oman's GDP is flowing outward through remittances while many Omani remain underemployed. 

Some recent comments on the issue from Times of Oman:


  • Comment (names redacted) 
    The omani people are the son of this soil and it is the basic right for each omani to seek employment in his/her own country. the expatriate who do small and medium business wants to eat away all profit and send it to their own country. they employ contract workers from manpower supply and complete their manpower requirement the ministry has to crack such people who operate internally in industrial areas .
  • Comment
    The postive side is new jobs for young generation but loopholes within laws will open backdoors for unethical activities. Proxy trading, visa selling & 5% commission is way of Omanis doing duet jobs. You can't blame them but blame the corrupted system in placed.
    • Comment
      You should first train & educate them , so they don't become burden for the organisations..supporting nationals is duty of sultanate, but not in a way that you forget the humanity. Expatriates are not alien, they shouldn't be deprived of their basic rights of earning, if they decided to work in Oman.
      • Comment
        Why are you yelling so much! You could have said same thing to your government back home...Ask them to increase job opportunity....Let me tell you onething...They will get trained once they get a job...Its their country...their home land....Will you feed outsider and keep your family hungry??..

      • Comment
        its in ur thinkung that they are getting trained, infact companies are paying to unskilled omanis by dealing with them, so they can just show to ministries that they have omanis. expats are more skilfull than them, and point here is not to remind me of my country, point is how to deal with workers irrespective of national discremination, over which u are yelling my brother.


     www.worldbank.org/prospects/migrationandremittances.