Omani men chat in the meeting room of the traditional local council known as the "sabla" in the small village of Ghala, near Muscat. Foreigners make up 2 million of Oman’s population of about 5 million. Image Credit: AFP

Cairo: Oman plans to replace thousands of foreign employees in its government sectors with Omanis as the country is seeking to curb the economic impact of the novel coronavirus and a drop in oil prices.

A committee has been set up at Oman’s civil service sector, led by an undersecretary of the civil service for civil development affairs, and is studying replacement plans in the sector and related estimated cost, an official has said.

Head of the Oman’s National Centre for Employment’s Steering Committee, Mohammed Bin Ahmed, added that the centre has also formed a team including representatives from the ministries of manpower, health and education as well as state-owned companies to review the situation of foreign employees and gradually replace them.

“In view of the coronavirus impact, slow economic growth, and consequently sluggish job generation, replacement becomes inevitable,” he said, according to Omani newspaper Al Shabiba. The Health Ministry has an “ambitious” replacement plan that will come into effect soon, he added without details.

Over 50,000 expatriates are working in Oman’s government sector.

Foreigners make up 2 million of Oman’s population of about 5 million.

Oman is battling to contain the economic fallout from an outbreak of the coronavirus and low oil prices. The country’s tourism sector has felt the brunt of the suspension of air travel due to the virus. In May, Oman announced a further 5 per cent cut in the budget of the government agencies and the army.

Last month, Sultan Haitham Bin Tariq ordered the formation of a committee to address the economic effects of COVID-19.