Persian Gulf States Table of Contents

A foreign work force was the key to the development of Oman's physical and administrative infrastructure. However, in 1993 indigenization was among the government's principal priorities. Only 23 percent of the private-sector work force is Omani, whereas the public-sector work force is dominated by Omani nationals. In 1990 Omanis made up 80 percent of public corporation employees, 52 percent of diwan employees, and 65 percent of the civil service. In certain organizations and ministries--such as the Oman News Agency and the ministries of foreign affairs; interior; justice, awqaf [religious endowments], and Islamic affairs; national heritage and culture; and social affairs and labor--Omanis exceed 90 percent of the work force.

In the banking sector, 70.8 percent of the work force was Omani in 1990; in the oil sector, it was 61.0 percent, with a large disparity between producing and nonproducing companies. Of PDO's work force, 61.0 percent was Omani, compared with 53.4 percent of Elf Aquitaine Oman, 20 percent of Occidental Oman, and 21.0 percent of Japex Oman. In non-oil-producing companies, Omanis averaged 31.6 percent of the work force. In 1990 only 24.0 percent of insurance-sector workers and 19.0 percent of hotel-sector workers were Omanis.

The government hopes that an increasing number of Omanis will enter trade and industry, increasing the number of Omanis in the private sector to 45.2 percent by 1995. RO40 million (US$104 million) was allocated to training in 1990, with the intent of training 100,000 individuals and creating 160,000 job opportunities. In March 1991, the Higher Committee for Vocational Training and Labor was established to generate employment for Omanis and to establish other policies for the indigenous and foreign work force.

Institution building has been largely a foreign initiative. The professional core of the civil administration has consisted mainly of British and United States citizens, influencing the development of ministries, the judiciary, development planning, and resource management. The dependency on foreign advisers in the 1990s is likely to grow, given increasing Western, notably United States, involvement in the gulf after Operation Desert Shield and Operation Desert Storm, particularly in defense and security areas. Also, the emphasis of the Joint United StatesOman Commission on institution building and privatization has resulted in sustained foreign influence in the sultanate.

The government not only faces a skills barrier to its indigenization program but also a psychological obstacle. As a result of the initiation of a civil administrative structure, a sense of entitlement has arisen in the public psyche. By ensuring positions in the public sector for Omani nationals, the government inadvertently created the notion that it was the universal provider for its citizens. This notion may be difficult to reverse and perhaps will become a source of political instability if the government proves unable to fulfill its obligations should an economic downturn and consequent financial difficulties occur

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Source: U.S. Library of Congress