The Ministry of Manpower, part of the government of Oman, have announced that the fees for work visas for expats in the country will be increased by a massive 50%. The Ministry have said that the visa fees for private sector workers would increase from around $522 to $782. It has also been reported that there would be increases in the fees for visas for domestic workers, camel herders and farm workers. Visa fees for this sector currently depend on how many visas are issued under one employer but it is expected that there will be increases for all employers.
There has been concern raised among employers who are already currently facing increase economic uncertainty in the country and this move is expected to make conditions harder. Workers have also voiced their concern that the increased fees will be taken from their already very low salaries by their employers. It is feared that many employers will be forced to pass on the increase to the workforce.
It is thought that these visa charge increases come amid economic uncertainty for the Sultanate of Oman which currently has a substantial budget deficit which currently stands at over $9bn. The deficit has been growing recently as the region has been experiencing low oil revenues as global prices remain low. Currently there are over 1.8 million ex pat workers in Oman and these visa increases will result in considerable increased revenue for the government. The visa price increases come in the wake of a similar move by Saudi Arabia where the government recently announced massive hikes in the visa fees for workers and religious tourists. The move has been met with widespread criticism from around the Muslim world with calls to the government to reverse the decision. As yet there is no sign that the Saudi Arabia government are listening to the concerns of travellers to the country.