Omanization bites as expats leave, but Golden Visa scheme unlikely to succeed

Published:  6 Dec at 6 PM
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The introduction of Oman’s visa ban and its recent extensions seems to have encouraged unemployed locals to get jobs, but Oman‘s new Golden Visa scheme doesn’t allow expat citizenship.

The aim of the expat visa ban was to vastly increase available jobs for Omanis as the emirate’s unemployment figures were at an all-time high. Since the visa changes were announced, the expat labour force has shrunk by four per cent, with the majority of drops seen in the financial, engineering, manufacturing, industrial and construction sectors. Unlike in several other Gulf States also cracking down on expat workers, the move would seem to have encouraged the younger elements of the local workforce to seek and get employment.

According to the Omani National Centre for Statistics, a 13.6 per cent decrease in the number of unemployed citizens between the ages of 25 to 29 has resulted from the visa ban, with a good number of those aged between 30 and 34 years also finding jobs, thus reducing the sector’s overall unemployment rate by 11 per cent. For the group aged between 35 and 39 years, the drop in unemployment figures was seven per cent.

In the meantime, the UAE is setting up to join the many worldwide countries offering Golden Visas to ultra-wealthy foreign investors. Detailed rules have now been accepted by the cabinet, and the visas will be offered to property investors, entrepreneurs and senior-level science specialists. Expats owning UAE properties worth over $1,4 million will qualify for five-year residency visas, whilst the ten-year visas can be purchased by individuals owning UAE real estate worth at least $2.8 million. Investors will be allowed to bring their families to live in the emirate.

Further rules will apply to expatriates, with entrepreneurs able to stay for five years, and the ten-year visa will be available to researchers and scientists holding exceptional qualifications. Students who display outstanding potential can also apply for five-year visas. Unfortunately, the visas do not provide a route to UAE citizenship, and CEOs of international Bahrain-based companies believe the take-up may be lower than expected as many other world countries offer citizenship as part of their far less expensive Golden Visa schemes.
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