GRM 2010 GRM 2011

Abstract Details

Family Name:
First Name:
Title of Paper:
Migration Dynamics and Socio-political Challenges in the Sultanate of Oman
Paper Proposal Text :
This paper addresses the current socio-political challenges and strategies in managing foreign labour in concurrence with the demand of increasing employment rates among nationals in the Sultanate of Oman. The aim is, in accordance with the main goal of the workshop, to contribute to the identification of the significant factors that determine future migrant inflows to the Gulf.
The high relevance of this topic emerges of the entanglement of the various social, political, economic and cultural factors that requires taking different perspectives into account. Therefore, the objective of the paper is to reflect (1) on a macro-level the major changes in the migration dynamics; (2) on a meso-level the current challenges and the social and political strategies; and (3) on a micro-level the individual perceptions, attitudes and practices of nationals and non-nationals living and working in Oman.
In the first section, the paper will give an overview about the quantitative changes of the migration inflow to the Sultanate of Oman since its swift and intense modernisation and far reaching economic, social and political transformations which started in the 1970s. The different “waves” of migration due to changes in the origin and qualification of the foreign labour force will be presented, emphasizing the two most significant current shifts in the immigration dynamics: Firstly, the decrease of migrants from South Asia in percentage of the total amount of migrants to the Gulf, particularly from India and Sri Lanka; secondly, the regional shift of the demand for, respectively the recruitment of labour workers from Nepal, Bangladesh and Pakistan, and for female domestic workers from Eastern African countries (Somalia, Ethiopia), due to less formalized and regulated legal and political factors of employment.
This in mind, the second section of the paper will shed further light on the social and political impacts of the ongoing dependence of the labour market on foreign expatriate workforce. Basically, the political strategies in coping with the diverse challenges of combining the continuing needs of foreign workforce with the demands for greater employment opportunities from nationals will be examined. Therefore, the framework conditions that regulate the working situation of foreigners in Oman (Omanisation policies, economic diversification and development strategies for the private sector etc.) will be explained. In addition to the political framework the social dimension of these changes will be considered through the perceptions, aspirations and attitudes of Omani nationals towards foreigners, reflecting the question of integration, openness towards cosmopolitanism, modernisation and changes in lifestyle, values, and consumption pattern.
Finally, the third section of the paper leads to the perspective of migrants, reflecting the individual situation of Indians working and living in the first or second generation in Muscat; Indians still hold the highest share of the foreign employees working in the private sector in Oman with over 60% in all types of positions (Ministry of National Economy, 2009). The empirical findings emanate from an in-depth qualitative study carried out from 2010 until 2013. Thus, the perceptions and the social practice of Indians with different positions in the segmented and hierarchical labour market will be presented against the background of the before discussed changes and challenges in the migration dynamics in Oman. The paper intends to sum up with a deeper understanding of the different possibilities and restraints for living trans-locality and semi-permanence, influencing a migrant’s decision in the individual migration pattern in the Gulf.