Muscat: Tighter rules, both at home and abroad, regarding hiring of domestic workers are having an impact on the Sultanate’s demography.
The number of Ethiopian and Indonesians workers living in Oman dropped sharply in 2016.
According to the National Centre for Statistics and Information, the number of Ethiopian workers fell from 24,009 in December 2015 to 16,673 at the end of December 2016.
“Their numbers dropped after Oman stopped issuing visas for domestic workers from Ethiopia, Kenya, Senegal, Guinea and Cameroon,” Sami Muctar, country manager, Ethiopian Airlines, Oman, said. Similarly, the number of Indonesian workers also fell in 2016. Now, there are 19,216 Indonesian workers living in Oman, compared to 24,009 at the end of 2015.
“We have stopped sending our domestic workers to Oman,” confirmed Bambang Daranindra, the Minister Counsellor of the Indonesian Embassy in Muscat.
He also said they are now sending skilled workers from Indonesia to Oman, instead of domestic workers.
“Our focus today is to reduce the number of Indonesian housemaids and, instead, to increase the number of professionals in other sectors, including oil and gas, health and hospitality,” he added.
The Indonesian government has already imposed a temporary ban on letting domestic workers travel to several countries in the world, including some GCC countries.
As the number of Ethiopian and Indonesian workers dropped, Omani families have begun hiring housemaids from Uganda in Africa.
“On every flight to Muscat, we are having around 25 to 35 maids coming from Uganda. These maids are boarding their flights from Uganda and coming to Muscat after changing flights at Addis Ababa,” Muctar said.
With Philippines, Nepalese, Indian and Sri Lankan maids being considered in the ‘costlier’ bracket, employment agencies say the focus has shifted to Uganda.
“Many are opting for Ugandan maids because of the ban on (workers from) other African countries,” they said.
Another major reason for this choice is that the cost of bringing Ugandan housemaids is less than OMR500, which many families find affordable.
“Their salaries are also less, compared to maids from Philippines, Nepal, India and Sri Lanka,” one of them said.
In February 2015, Oman stopped issuing visas for domestic workers from Ethiopia, Kenya, Senegal, Guinea and Cameroon.
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