Hundreds of young unemployed Omanis demonstrated on Monday in front of the ministry of manpower in Muscat to demand more job opportunities.
The crowd shouted “We want jobs” and “We are tired of waiting” as anti-riot police stood on guard in case the protest got out of control.
“We have been promised jobs for so long, but nothing has happened so far,” said 25-year-old Salim Al Hashar, who graduated with an Information Technology degree.
“I have been waiting for 14 months, since I graduated, and I have been rejected everywhere I have gone to apply.”
Nearly 60,000 university graduates were looking for jobs by the end of 2017, according to statistics released by the ministry.
In October, the government said it would create jobs for 25,000 Omanis starting from last month in an effort to reduce the unemployment rate.
But Business Administration graduate Adil Al Zaidi accused the government of not delivering on its plans.
"It is just empty promises but no action on the creation of these jobs,” he said, adding that he had been unemployed for 18 months.
"[It] is too long to wait. It is frustrating not to get a job for that long."
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The government said 60 per cent of the promised new jobs would be in the public sector, while private sector companies would be provided with incentives to hire citizens instead of expatriates. It did not elaborate on what these incentives would be.
“So far, we have not received any incentives from the government, and we will employ more Omanis if there were incentives. However, the government needs to make it clear,” said Hamed Al Hammadi, managing director of Capital Construction Company.
Mr Al Hammadi said the government had sent private companies the names of Omanis looking for work, asking them to employ them — a move he criticised.
“We cannot just absorb them like that. Every company has its own employment plan and cannot just take staff on demand,” he said.
Expats vastly outnumber Omanis in the private sector. The latest manpower ministry figures showed only 237,900 Omanis working in the private sector at the end of September last year compared with 1.87 million expats.