1) All Omani Tow Trucks: The end result has been very good for the bottom line at AAA, and perilous for the consumer. Given that my cars are all rolling hunks of crap, I utilize a towing service fifteen times a year or so. An average wait time for a non AAA towe went from two hours to ten for me. Three weeks ago, it took two days to get a truck to Qurum, where the Jeep had broken down.
2) No Expatriates allowed to own Abu Shenab or other Two Door Pickup Trucks: A firesale of Two door pickup trucks, followed by an explosion of four door pickup trucks.
3) Omanisation of fruit and vegitable sellers: In our neighbourhood, this caused the immedaite closure of twelve fresh fruit and vegitable stores within walking distance of my house. A five minute walk to get fresh fruit and veg for dinner has become an hour-long saga at lulu, where shopping for produce is the closest thing Oman has to a full contact sport. This brilliant initiative has turned out to be a total pain in the ass for everyone in my neighbourhood, a catastrophy for the small Omani businessmen who owned and worked at the shops, and real boon for foreign owned mega stores like Carrefour and Lulu.
Read the report from the Times of Oman below.
From the Times of Oman:
(The Bolding and Italics are mine.)
Ban on visas for several professions
Anita Joseph Sunday, July 27, 2008
The Ministry of Manpower has announced that it has stopped issuing visas to companies engaged in the following activities: Import and export, cleaning, barber shop, laundry, electronic repair, garbage cleaning and selling, textile shops, mobile GSM shops, health clubs, workshops in aluminium, iron, wood, car repair and all related activities, tailoring shops and beauty parlours. As per the new rule, companies engaged in these activities will not be eligible for visa clearance. Accordingly, existing companies cannot bring in new expatriate recruits, nor can new companies be set up. However, those currently employed in these activities can renew their visa.
Ministry sources say the objective of the move is to enhance Omanisation and bring more local talent to the fore. “There is plenty of local talent but there’s very little space available for them,” said an official. Ministry sources also revealed that the visa restrictions apply only to small, grade 3 and 4 companies and not to those that have been awarded the ‘green card’ for compliance with labour laws and Omanisation targets.
Before I get really vitriolic about this let me say that I am really relived to note that they have decided to implement this by allowing the renewal of visas for workers currently in country, and simply banning new issuance of visa. This appears to be a stroke of genius from a Ministry not usually known for such things.
If correctly implemented, it will serve to gradually inflate the Salaries of mechanics to a level where Omanis would be tempted to take the jobs. It will encourage shop owners to treat thier foreign and skilled local labour well, because in the short term they will be totally irreplaceable. I can forsee a 3-5% reduction in foreign workers in these feilds each year, a rate that I think is sustainable.
It sounds too good to be true, and it is. Because the authourities, in thier wisdom, have decided to exempt big companies (Zubair, Bahwan, OTE etc..) from the mandate. They are welcome to bring in as much foreign labout as they want. A Good, if somewhat optimistic, Omanization plan becomes a subsidy for big business at the cost to hundreds of small Omani Business Owners.
These big companies have the facilities to train literally thousands of Omanis each year. They have the air conditioned service bays, and the Human resource staff and the logistics in place to make an omanisation mission of this sort work. The little Guys in Wadi Kabir have none of these things. They are struggling to compete in a market where even new spare parts are sold acccording to monopoly rules. You want Genuine Chevrolet parts? You can Only go to Chevrolet. * See note at bottom
The giant companies can point to thier entire corporate rolls and say "Look!!! but we already have Omanis working in corporate, sales, marketing, and paperwork positions." Good for you. THe small guys don't have HR, Sales, IT or accounting departments. They have mechanic departments, and that's it. There is really noweher to stick a non mechanic Omani except maybe as a guard or to answer the phone.
Regarding the Story in the Times, and professions other than mechanics; What the fuck is the ministry thinking saying that there is plenty of local talent for these positions? Garbage cleaning? Laundry? Wood Working? I think not.
OK, actually there is plenty of local talent who are qualified to do garbage cleaning, but I seriously doubt you'll find many willing to do it for anything less than RO 600 a month.
And no space? ANY workshop in Wadi Kabir would be delighted to have a hardworking, mechanically minded Omani on staff. Every single Wadi Kabir workshop I frequent asks me if I know any Omanis who are interested in learning the automotive trade. Every time I visit.
This is a foolhardy decision, and one which I think the Ministry will come to regret. It smacks of Wasta and big corporate influence at the expense of hard working Omanis and small business owners. To exempt the big corporations is unforgivibally short sighted.
* One man is trying to break the Monopoly on New Spare parts. Tariq al Kiyumi became so frustrated with being over charged for spare parts by Bahwan Toyota that he started his own Spare parts business in Wadi Kabir.
Toyota won't sell to him directly, because they have an agreement to deal only with Bahwan. So he buys the spares at bulk prices from the toyota dealer in DUbai, and brings them down to Oman to sell at a discount in his shop in Wadi Kabir.
Two years ago, Bahwan opened a toyota spare parts shop next door to Tariq Al Kiyumi spare parts. He's still in business, and is forcing Bahwan to lower thier prices to be able to compete with him. I'd like to see more stories like this in Oman.
I'd like to see Tariq's story on the cover of the week, actually.