As someone who loves Oman, there are some things that have occurred or seem to be occurring here in the Sultanate that cause me some concern. Each of these points on their own might seem like nothing, but when you see them combined as a whole, I don’t think it bodes well for those expats who have enjoyed the little luxuries of life here in Oman. Here are issues that have been brought up in the local news recently which I find alarming:
- The recent idea/attempt by some in the Shura Council to tax expat remissions. (Didn’t happen but the thought is there!)
- Current ban on exploying expat women in the Sultanate (Based on the idea that women might not be so safe here in Oman?) (As a side note, still absolutely no word on the punishment (if any) of the 5 beasts who raped an Asian lady in Sohar last year.)
- Ban on dancers and live music. (Seems small but seems to have killed many social events and hurt several pubs/bars in their entertainment options.)
- Growing gap between expats and Omanis (January saw large salary increases for many Omanis based on the fact that…well, they are Omani!) The current minimum wage for Omanis is 325 OR while the minimum wage for an Ethiopian maid (correct me if I’m wrong anyone) is 25 OR.
- Unclear/Confusing laws (The recent announcement of a 2 year ban on expats, for example, that is still causing much confusion and interpreted differently by so many. (See #3 once again for another example)
- Closing down of some respectable B&Bs such as Nomad Guesthouse as reported by Y Magazine. (Maybe this also should fall into #5)
- The subsidies on petrol are to end this year or next. This year (I heard/read) is also the first time that Oman has considered the option of borrowing money from foreign countries to meet its budget. An anticipated deficit of 1.8 billion for Oman’s 2014 budget according to the Times of Oman.
- Proposed ban of alcohol as reported in the Times of Oman yesterday. You need to read this for yourself and see some of the attitudes out there about which direction some wish this country to follow
Interesting to note that many of these issues were brought up/introduced in the Shura Council… Any of these issues (or others) a concern to you?
Andy, I just found out today that an expat cannot own 2 SUVs at the same time. I’m a single female who just purchased a newer used SUV and am still trying to sell my older SUV (shameless plug: look for it on Dubizzle under 2008 Suzuki XL7). However when I went to register today at the ROP, I was informed I could not own two 4x4s! I’ve had to quickly switch my older car’s ownership (and insurance) to an Omani friend in order to complete the paperwork on the newer car. Unbelievable!
Not sure that this is really a rule as my wife owns three SUVs. I’ll not explain why as the reason is fairly silly. However she just bought the third one yesterday and registered it with no problems at all.
Interesting. Do they not realize that expats bring money into the country? And women are real people and deserve the same respect and rights as men – who would not be there without women, I might add.
Sent from my iPad
The petrol subsidy one you mentioned isn’t alarming in the same way as the others: Oman can longer afford to subsidise it the way they used to, as the burden on the budget is too great, doesn’t encourage conservation of energy and kinda messes up the economy in general. Kuwait is cutting diesel subsidies, and the UAE petrol prices are already at ‘market price’. I can understand this from an economic angle.
However, many of the other points you mentioned are – when taken as a whole like you’ve described here – really worrying for expats in Oman.
Exploying, cool mixture between employing and exploiting I assume ? 🙂 But yes you’re right the scales are starting to tip over to less and less nice to live and work here.
My simple observation is that the country is tightening up the screws on many of the benefits people had before: being an expat at some jobs brings you more money, thus you enjoy your life here, get 2-3 cars, go out every weekend and etc.
The recent changes and regulations, in my opinion, are changing the social life/time out of office to be unbearable, you have less activities, such as clubbing, drinking, less freedom to do what you could do: changing jobs, buying a 3rd SUV car. Then if you accept your fate to work for a salary that you get here, have 1 SUV per family, not have any alcohol – please continue working hard and stay.
Those in the know, worked out that this has been coming for a long time now. Oman is the antithesis of that profit-making phrase “you have to get in early”.
With Oman, the advice now is that you have to get out early. People who were enticed to buy properties in the Wave and Jebel Shifa were told of Oman’s liberal progression and all round awesomeness. However, that was under a vastly different set of circumstances to what we have now.
The higher echelons of society knew full well that the money is running out – and it is; that is no joke – the government has a lot less cash going around and needs to find ways to increase revenue.
Lifting the petrol subsidy is just the start.
Tying expatriates to a two-year contract without changes in employment is a precursor to taxing them.
And the deluded high-salary “westerners” are not where the government is aiming its tax revenue net. It’s the millions of “subcontinent” workers. Charge them a 2% cut on their salaries in taxes and you are getting an extra $100m a year or more. Think about that!
The new model for Omani business that is being forced into the country with the two year ban is on bringing in “Class A expats” (US, Europe etc) on a consultancy basis. No more employing direct. Get in, get a daily rate via an established company outside of Oman paying your rates and get out”.
That way, the more highly skilled jobs become task-related and the menial tasks: photocopying, human tape-recorder presentations and the like can be done by the Indians and eventually the Omanis.
One only has to sit for five minutes in a presentation done by the average Indian “expert” to know that it was sourced from Google, Ctrl+C, Ctrl+V and loaded into PowerPoint – then to be lost on a room full mostly of idiots anyway.
Why pay top end rates to a real expert when the end user is a muppet anyway.
There is method to the madness.
A lot of the ruling elite here want things rolled back to the seventies.
The perfect Oman is good roads, closed business and a massive knowledge gap between the have-lots and the have-nots.
Let the locals run around, steered by the Ministry of Beards while the upper classes can fly off to Dubai, Paris or London and spend the revenue.
Just like the old days.
The natives are restless and this is all part of a very big plan to put them back in their place again.
To Jet Driver, Only class A expats do original stuff? and Indians are all copying!! Man I have seen enough US and UK CEO’s here in GCC who are recruited for their complexion, and easily managed to distroy/almost destroy the employer. So much for the original thinking. You want names? ask me. Why dont we avoid the generalisations. If you want to generalise then Americans are a lazy bunch spoiled by easy money printed by the govt and distributed through easy credits. For each nationality/ethnic groups/individuals will have its own merits and demerits you can write a lot. Lets try to behave in public domain…
Overall, looking at the points you mentioned, it does point in a particular direction. That being said, comparing an Asian expat Vs Western or European expat, the former settles in the Gulf to come and save money so they can provide for their families to give them a decent lifestyle (that’s why there are a lot of Indian expats here or generally in the Gulf). But on the other hand, the latter gets more salary and more benefits and only stay for few years before leaving. If you desperately need the money, you stay through the hardships.
Ehtiopian’s visas cannot be renewed after the two year contract unless they wish to stay and not go home (the government and the Embassy found too many cases of abuse). Which kind of sucks, for the girl’s who did find nice families —but I totally understand it since there were soooooooooooo many cases of abuse. (But one way around it: my sister-inlaw adores her housemaid and to get around the law they will go on a family vacation with her to Ethiopia;) for a month so she could visit and have time off without ending her contract.) Minimum wage was 40 OMR (still terrible). You cannot bring any Ehtiopian housemaid into the country now on new contracts. It is banned. I was sad, simply because Ehtiopians are my favourite nationality, but I am happy someone cared, even if the law doesn’t really, I don’t know, fix what was actually being done wrong… Sigh.
So many laws here seem to be like that.
As for bringing expat women into the country—unmarried ones—it did enrage me, but I guess the reason for that is cases like me (I got married to an Omani). They don’t want that. They also don’t want spotlight put on the abuse of foriegn expat women in Oman, since it happens, frequently, single expatriate women being the most vulnerable segment in society…
Again—law doesn’t fix the real issues. It is an uneducated, ignorant attempt at doing so… but is done wrong. The wrong thing done for the right reasons is still….wrong.
And today in your favourite newspaper the confirmation of the law regarding the 2 year ban in its most unfavorable way. Well done!
Hi, As an Omani I do agree with you, I’m very worried at where my country is heading under this so called shura council which I hope will be dissolved soon and banned as they have hidden creepy agendas! But I’m also comforted by the fact that we have a wise and tolerant government and ruler who I think will veto many of these creepy laws! Oman has and hopefully will always be an oasis of tolerance, openness unlike our neighbours. #keepomantolerant