27,000 expats lose their jobs in Oman amid coronavirus pandemic

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Hind Al Soulia - Riyadh - Over 27,000 foreign workers, mostly from the Indian sub-continent, lost their jobs in Oman this year, official figures on Tuesday show.

The National Centre for Statistical Information (NCSI) did not state the reason of the job losses but recorded a dip from 1.672 million foreign workers in February this year to 1.662 million in March and 1.645 million in April. The data for May have not yet been released.

Analysts say that the coronavirus pandemic is the main driver of job losses in the sultanate.

“I would say about 80 per cent of them have been made redundant due to the virus pandemic while the other 20 per cent due to normal employment adjustments. We expect more of them are going to lose their jobs in the coming months,” Said Al Kharusi, an economic analyst, said.

An Omani family stands by the waterfront in the Mutrah area of the capital Muscat. AFP

A general view inside the Sultan Qaboos Grand Mosque in Muscat, Oman. EPA

Yitti beach at sunset. Reem Mohammed/The National

An Omani shopping at the souq in the city of Nizwa, about 160 kilometres southwest of the capital Muscat. AFP

A view of the city of Nizwa from the walls of the 17th-century fortification of the same name, about 160 kilometres southwest of the capital Muscat. AFP

Al Bustan beach, Muscat. Charlotte Mayhew/ The National

Tourists swim at Wadi Shab in the Sharqiyah region near the Omani capital Muscat. AFP

A tourist lifts up a boy as they visit waterfalls at Ayn Athum in Salalah, Dhofar province, Oman. REUTERS

Tourists visit a cave at Ain Razat, a water spring in Salalah, Dhofar province, Oman. REUTERS

Tourists swim at Wadi Shab in the Sharqiyah region near the Omani capital Muscat. AFP

Oman said the pandemic has killed 37 people from a total of 8,118 infected people so far.

Statements released by several top private business companies in Oman said they “regretted” having to let go expatriate workers due to the challenges of the pandemic. The government organisations like Oman Aviation Group, which controls national airline Oman Air, also released a similar statement last month.

Other analysts warned that more expatriates are set to lose their jobs as the government is expected to stick to spending cuts due to the pandemic and a drop in oil prices.

“Most of these foreign workers who are losing their jobs are from private companies who depend heavily on government contracts. With falling oil prices plus the pandemic, the government will continue to cut spending to reduce deficits,” Abdullah Al Fahmi, a financial analyst, said.

Last year, Oman awarded contracts worth 250 million rials (AED 2.4 billion) to the private sector but oil prices this year forced the government to stop all contractual awards. Oman’s average oil prices so far this year is $35 per barrel compared to $64 per barrel in 2019.

The budget for 2020 was based on an oil price of $58. It has estimated a deficit of 2.5 billion rials this year.

Over the last two months, the government ordered departments to cut spending by 10 and then an additional 5 per cent.

Updated: May 26, 2020 07:09 PM

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