[Oman] Expats reluctantly leave as pandemic takes toll

[Oman] Expats reluctantly leave as pandemic takes toll
09 Sep 2021

As the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic continues to be felt, some of the tens of thousands of expatriates in Oman who have lost jobs and businesses have been preparing to leave the country that has been home to many for years, The National reports.

Mohammed Rafeeq (56) has been packing his bags to leave for good and head for India this weekend. His furniture shop in the Ruwi area of Muscat collapsed after more than 20 years.

“I have been here for 22 years and my business went well until the pandemic ruined everything for me,” Mr Rafeeq told The National.

“It is hard for me to leave Oman and to say goodbye to many friends, not only my compatriots but my Omani colleagues as well,” he said.

According to figures released by the state-run National Centre for Statistics and Information, more than 63,000 expatriates left Oman between January and August.

Oman’s population is 4,416,603 as of September 4, with 2,778,872 Omanis and 1,637,731 expatriates.

About 33 per cent of the expatriates who left the country this year are reportedly  Indian nationals, with Bangladeshis, Pakistanis and Sri Lankans the next largest groups.

Ahmed Saleem - a construction pipefitter - has been visiting many friends' doors to say goodbye over the last three days.

“I came to Oman in 1993 as a 19-year-old teenager and now I am leaving a middle-aged man. I lived more years in Oman than the country of my birth. You can imagine how hard it is for me to say goodbye to the country where I spent a big part of my youth,” Mr Saleem said.

“I made many friends but, unfortunately, I have to leave because my company is downsizing its business,” Mr Saleem, who was a supervisor at Al Sinani Construction Company, told The National.

Those expats who have been fortunate enough not to receive notice at their jobs live with constant worry about their future.

“I have lost count of how many times friends have said goodbye to me this year. Each time they do that, they leave a hole in my heart. They also remind me that I might be next to lose my job,” Pakistani national Sadiq Khan (51) said. Mr Khan has been a teacher for 17 years in Muscat.

HR managers are now braced for further departures.

“We expect more expatriates to leave this year. COVID-19 has hit hard most businesses in Oman." Mohammed Al-Hamdani - an HR manager at Sharqiyah Transportation - told the National.

“Companies know that it is not acceptable to sack Omanis so I am afraid they are left with no choice but to lay off expatriates to make ends meet,” he said.

Staff at Muscat Airport have reportedly been busy all summer catering for the departing expatriates and their cargo.

“There has been a hike of departing passengers, mainly expatriates, this summer, by about 25 per cent compared to other months this year. Most of these flights are to the Indian subcontinent countries,” said Ammar Zadjali of Oman Airports Managing Company.

The majority were one-way tickets.


Source: The National

As the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic continues to be felt, some of the tens of thousands of expatriates in Oman who have lost jobs and businesses have been preparing to leave the country that has been home to many for years, The National reports.

Mohammed Rafeeq (56) has been packing his bags to leave for good and head for India this weekend. His furniture shop in the Ruwi area of Muscat collapsed after more than 20 years.

“I have been here for 22 years and my business went well until the pandemic ruined everything for me,” Mr Rafeeq told The National.

“It is hard for me to leave Oman and to say goodbye to many friends, not only my compatriots but my Omani colleagues as well,” he said.

According to figures released by the state-run National Centre for Statistics and Information, more than 63,000 expatriates left Oman between January and August.

Oman’s population is 4,416,603 as of September 4, with 2,778,872 Omanis and 1,637,731 expatriates.

About 33 per cent of the expatriates who left the country this year are reportedly  Indian nationals, with Bangladeshis, Pakistanis and Sri Lankans the next largest groups.

Ahmed Saleem - a construction pipefitter - has been visiting many friends' doors to say goodbye over the last three days.

“I came to Oman in 1993 as a 19-year-old teenager and now I am leaving a middle-aged man. I lived more years in Oman than the country of my birth. You can imagine how hard it is for me to say goodbye to the country where I spent a big part of my youth,” Mr Saleem said.

“I made many friends but, unfortunately, I have to leave because my company is downsizing its business,” Mr Saleem, who was a supervisor at Al Sinani Construction Company, told The National.

Those expats who have been fortunate enough not to receive notice at their jobs live with constant worry about their future.

“I have lost count of how many times friends have said goodbye to me this year. Each time they do that, they leave a hole in my heart. They also remind me that I might be next to lose my job,” Pakistani national Sadiq Khan (51) said. Mr Khan has been a teacher for 17 years in Muscat.

HR managers are now braced for further departures.

“We expect more expatriates to leave this year. COVID-19 has hit hard most businesses in Oman." Mohammed Al-Hamdani - an HR manager at Sharqiyah Transportation - told the National.

“Companies know that it is not acceptable to sack Omanis so I am afraid they are left with no choice but to lay off expatriates to make ends meet,” he said.

Staff at Muscat Airport have reportedly been busy all summer catering for the departing expatriates and their cargo.

“There has been a hike of departing passengers, mainly expatriates, this summer, by about 25 per cent compared to other months this year. Most of these flights are to the Indian subcontinent countries,” said Ammar Zadjali of Oman Airports Managing Company.

The majority were one-way tickets.


Source: The National

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