Thursday, May 22, 2014

OPNO on Omanisation---otherwise known as the Arabic folktale "the Sultan and the Stone"

I have been commenting like mad on the posts filed under the subject header of "Omanisation" inspired by the Ministry of Manpower's law requiring expats to leave the country for 2 years if they wish to change employers, by the following bloggers:

2.) However, my own opinions, I haven't felt like it is that important for me to blog them since I'd feel I am being a little repetative. However, another one of the OPNO girls is bugging me to write this post, since, in her words, "you are always always ranting on the subject anyways", so here goes.

Why I should care and bother: I've helped write reports for government Ministries and academic papers for international journals on performance measures, on changing the whole salary system to a shift/hours system for aspects of the national economy (such as nursing) that could benefit from this (and where such reforms are actually being begged for---by Omani nurses for example)... ect... Ignore the typos on this blog. In my-real-life I actually get paid to write and the blog is what I write when I can't concentrate on work or home. I just stop caring about typos, grammer, after writing and reading all day.

That's actually my job. I reasearch this kind of thing, for healthcare, but also, occasionally, for education and other aspects of the government sector. That's why I should have an opinion on this subject, the national  economy, reforms, Omanisation....but again, experience tells me, what is the pont? Who listens? Who wants to change? Who can force change?

I live in Oman. I am not an Omani citizen (yet---I have an application but the Interior Ministry is under review due to suspician of corruption---no idea why---afterall, that dude who wanted us to buy his wife a new Galaxy phone in exchange for permission to marry an Omani wasn't suspicious whatsoever but hey). However, my children are/will be. I never applied for my own citizenship for them. I truly love Oman. Come hell or high water (been here already for highwater---Gonu) I will stay. Give us the madness of Cairo {Egypt} in protests, I'd still stay. My personal interests in the country are 1. preservation of Omani architecture and heritage sites, 2. educating about the harmful effect of female genital mutilation, 3. forcing changes in the policies regarding marriage laws for Omanis to non-Omanis, 4. supporting Omani women married to non-omanis in recieving equal rights for their children, 5. encouraging the adoption of abandoned Omani children by caring Omani couples unable to have children of their own, 6. helping Omani women and expat women in oppressive or abusive circumstances get on their feet and live independent lives away from their oppressors/abusers. It's alot, too much sometimes, to do very much of anything, beyond the stuff I am paid to do at work, and an eye-candy post here or there on this blog. I have no excuses. I have just as many hours in my day as, like Oprah (hate her, but she's pretty successful so), but I just don't manage all my dreams and goals.

However, Oman----:This is the place of my heart, as strange as that is to me at times. So even I am an expat, I hundred percent want Omanisation. I want to see the end of corruption. I would like to see educated Government law/policy makers make thought-out, clear, transparent, and just laws.

Inhibitors to that: Tribalism. The wasta-system. Bribes. Families who don't want the women from their family to work or travel for an education. Corruption/idiocy in the school system for Omani classes 1-12. The sponsorship system. The salary-system.

I agree pretty much with everything Suburban and Muscat Confidential are saying.

1.) Oman should stop creating 'fake' Ministry, Army, Police, and/other government sector jobs. These jobs are far too easy once you have them, to encourage the country to expand the private sector. Oman needs a private sector. The economy is flawed. I am not an economist but I work with them, so I hear this every single bloody day.

2.) Jobs should be based on performance measures that are accurate, clear, transparent {to protect from corruption} and easy to understand, and these should be linked to a reward/demerit system that is the same, clear, transparent, and suitable. Don't perform above standard?: don't get promoted. Preform at standard, keep your job and relax. Perform under standard?: get fired.

3.) Not everybody is meant to be a doctor, lawyer or an Engineer, dear Arabs. Your cousin Ahmed? The one, who, like, stabbed himself in the eye with a pencil in class 3?: he's not meant to become a brain surgeon or a Minister. That's fine. Omanise.

The construction industry in Oman is the very best example. Abuse of third world employees abounds. They are overworked, underpaid, and too fearful of deportation to report lack of safety and even the corruption they see on sites. Galfar roads are a perfect example of this. They should have made the roads such a depth but didn't to save, so they could spend the extra they were given? Did anyone report them? No. Replace these people with Omanis, raise their salary, give them the oppurtunity to advance based on knowledge and experience. The dude starts as a painted or digger, in a few months he gets trained how to drive or use the machines, in a few years he knows enough to be a foreman. In ten years, and with some safety courses, let him be a safety inspector. Instead of retiring them to a fake office job once they're old, let them become site inspectors to make standards in construction and project timelines a reality in Oman. Desk jobs are for people with experience, everywhere in the world. Not because your cousin Ahmed and brother Zuhair or whoever knows somebody there to get you transferred. Sweat and hardwork are admirable qualities. Omani guys, here's a tip: to women, these are even "sexy" qualities to have.

I love a man who can paint, fix my car, hang my curtains, and get down to work with the construction workers on site while building our family villa. THAT is sexier to me, than, I don't know, fancy perfume, 100 rial honey, and a dude who has time to be on whastapp all day at a deskjob. Really. Honest to God/Allah, I swear. Intelligence is a turn-on. But hardwork, the phsyical kind---will do in place if you lack intelligence. That's sexy.

Trade schools would develop these young men. Plumbers, electricians, carpenters, welders, Oil industry personnel---- these people do fair work and deserve fair wages. Let people work with their hands. Give them acs but let them.

4.) Make minimum wage universal regardless of passport. Corruption will descrease. Abuse of foriegn workers will decrease. Less foreign workers will be imported. More Omanis can step into these unskilled or only semi-skilled jobs.

But what about my nanny/housemaid?: Learn to do your own dishes or ---Omani women can do part-time cleaning services---I know many who are not too proud to. Or do them yourselves;) If I can, you can. If you are truly wealthy enough to afford help, you'll still be able to.

If not, Omani women who really can't go into the workforce can in the very least offer daycare or baby-sitting services to boost their incomes and stay stay-at-home Moms. I know alot of Omani women who already do this.

5.) I really loved the Dragon's recommendation of focusing training on local villages. My village, for example, is a heritage/tourism village. Training these kids in that would suit them.

Alot of kids in Sohar could be trained in the ports management. Mabaila, in auto repair---those boys just spend all their time washing and polishing cars on the side of the road anyways... (don't need fake car parts but pay more for labour---I am okay with that). Kids in Al Wusta---oil industry machinery and the like.

Really, these things are not that hard to do. They will hurt at first. Prices will rise. But they should. The cost of getting my car washed here is ridiculously low. The cost of labour for building a house---ridiciulously low. The payment to the owners of big companies----ridiculously high while the workers get the short end of the stick.

6.) Flexibility in hours needs to happen for Omanis. My Omani husband is happy because my job is not a 9-5. It is a go in 2 days a week one week and work like a demon, and then sleep the  next 3, or work 7 days a week one week, and then a week off ect.... It is based on the work requirements, not on what I  am supposedly supposed to do by salalry/hours. Part-time work must happen. A lot of Omani women would be happy with part-time work. They just can't do full-time, and raise a family of 10. It doesn't work. Part-time also means one can be fired. So be it. Then at least I can hire an Omani instead of an expat.

I am so tired of being told I am not allowed to hire an Omani, even though they want the work and can do it, because the place I work is afraid they can't fire them.

That means, they don't get work, and an expat does.

Doesn't work for Omanisation.

Which brings me back to what is the pont? Who listens? Who wants to change? Who can force change?

My sil and my cowife are also researchers. None of us are in related feilds but we all write for the government sector, advising ministries ect...

My cowife just contributed to an excellent report about Omani teachers and what are the flaws that are easy to change in the class 1-12 education system. What was done with such a report?: nothing. Her boss is thinking of quitting because he's just so tired of making reports and nothing is being done about them.

My SIL just wrote a report saying how flying doctors over here and providing the facilties would cut down on the wait times and costs of sending Omani citizens overseas to recieve medical treatment. What was done with that report?: nothing.

A coworker just wrote asking that nurses be allowed the option of part-time work, per hour, instead of being forced to salary day or night shift duties, allowing the hard workers to take the night shifts and weekends for extra money, and allowing Omani women the chance to spend time with their families instead of quitting nursing altogether. We hope it will be considered by the Minstry of Manpower. However, I don't hold my breath.

All in all, I am only blogging because, the people who were supposed to attend a meeting we scheduled for today, did not show up, and I had nothing to do anyways.... and others asked me to. But when it comes down to it, I feel like, what is the point?: let funnier, better bloggers at least, with wider followers raise public awareness. Most of our blog's readers come for fashion posts about abayas, according to google stats, or information about Omani marriage laws.

I feel that way because it goes like an old Arabian fairytale:

Once upon a time there was a Sultan, who looked for the wisest of men in his Sultanate to be his advisor. So in the night he went to a road and placed a large boulder there. In a secret place he hid and watched. Here he would find the right man for the job.

In the morning many came. Some complained. Others made suggestions for what could be done to move the rock. But sadly, nothing was done, not by any of them.

In the end, one man he moved the rock. He had heard already the suggestions made by others, and the complaints. What he did was move the rock, nothing impossible, nothing but a little strain, a little sweat, a little work...

It was he for whom the Sultan was waiting.

I don't want to be just one of those in the crowd, murmuring anymore, about how to move the rock. If I cannot move it myself, I wait for the one (or ones) who have listened, and will move the boulder from the road. Plus, I like that the proverb as it has a Sultan, so it suits Oman;). So until someone wants to and can (we already know how and what must be done) shove the Omanisation-inhibtors rock out of the proverbial road.... we wait.


Umm Layth said...

Assalaamu Alaikum sis,

Personally speaking, I loved this post. This is the type of information that I am so hungry about - the reality of life in Oman beyond the glossy pictures.

BarakAllahu feek.

Take heart ukhti.

Freddie said...


one of you is in a polygamous marriage? I'd love to read a blog post about that from you, please.

Omani Princess (not Omani...yet) said...

Freddie: Iw rote a couple before but a few people have asked about that from this post so maybe another on the same subject?