As of May 27th 2015, estimates of Oman’s total population stood at 4,187,516 persons, of whom 1,849,412 (44.2 per cent) were foreign nationals. Foreign workers are overwhelmingly from the Asian subcontinent: Indians, Bangladeshis and Pakistanis together made up 87 per cent of the workforce in 2013.

The foreign population has increased from 560,000 in 2003, to 816,000 in 2010, to 1,825,000 2016, increasing from 24% to 44% of the total population within that time. With the increased numbers of workers, and the existent corruption and exploitation in the labour recruitment networks in the main countries of origin, there is a high risk in cases of human trafficking especially among the most vulnerable of migrant workers.

In terms of first involvements, in 2014, IOM supported the Government of Oman and the Government of Dominican Republic to assist a case of human trafficking. In January 2016, IOM was referred a case of presumed trafficking on a Tanzanian national which was handled by the Government of Tanzania and Government of Oman. IOM remains available to provide assistance should it be required (through the GAF).

Migration Activities

IOM involvement in Oman 

Labour mobility management and assistance to stranded foreign workers, including trafficking in persons.

IOM’s initiative is related to identifying potential areas for collaboration and avenues for follow up with the Omani Ministry of Manpower as well as other relevant authorities in Oman.

IOM has played a major role in the establishment and development of the Abu Dhabi Dialogue. The ADD, of which Oman is a member, is a regional consultative process allowing GCC countries and major Asian countries of origin to discuss and collaborate on issues of common interest pertaining to international labour mobility.

Since its inception, IOM has:

  • Provided logistical and technical support to Senior Official and Ministerial meetings;
  • Implemented pilot projects supported by ADD Member States;
  • Facilitated bilateral and multilateral dialogue and collaboration between the Member States.

IOM is also a partner to the UNODC/Arab League/ Qatar “Arab Initiative to combat human trafficking” and has supported a number of capacity building initiatives (protection-focused), which have also included Omani participants.

Partners in the Muscat Declaration for Gender Justice

On January 20th-21st, 2016, IOM’s Regional Director, Mrs. Carmela Godeau, attended a meeting with the UN ESCWA Women Committee in Muscat, Oman, to participate on discussions related to the advancement of the Gender Equality and Gender balance in the Member States national legislation, as well as the implementation of the SDGs (objective 17 on Gender) and the UNGA resolution 1035.

One of the outcomes of the meeting was the adoption of the “Muscat Declaration: Towards the Achievement of Gender Justice in the Arab Region” by ESCWA member States as a broad framework for the achievement of gender equality.

This newly adopted concept of gender justice exceeds the traditional concept of gender equality that limits equality to the elimination of all forms of discrimination against women, to include the element of accountability to ensure the existence of effective mechanisms to eliminate discrimination.

Prospective opportunities between IOM and the Government of Oman:

Based on IOM’s work with GCC countries as well as major private sector companies, IOM could conduct an audit of labour supply chains within certain economic sectors and/or with private recruitment agencies in Oman to identify challenges in recruitment in countries of origin and destination that lead to (a) unethical recruitment practices and; (b) risks for employers in terms of skills match and competences of workers recruited.

Through the various initiatives that are being done in Kuwait, IOM can assess GoO’s work permit application system to identify areas for improved efficiencies and improved coherence between the foreign worker programme and labour market development objectives. The purpose of this type of study is to support countries of destination in refining labour mobility policies and programmes to maximize economic and labour market development objectives.

Building on the work IOM has conducted globally as well as within the GCC, IOM can develop and deliver a series of capacity building trainings and study tours for Ministry of Manpower and other relevant officials on (i) labour migration management; (ii) Counter Trafficking; (iii) Assistance to VoTs and can assist on case by case basis / Shelter Management; (iv) return and reintegration.

Considering the pilots developed in Kuwait and Qatar, IOM can extend its effort to support a pilot AVRR scheme in Oman.