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Second week of protests over joblessness in Oman

Hundreds gather outside ministry building demanding jobs as unemployment among nationals in Gulf state remains stubbornly high

A general view of Muscat's Al-Rasul Al-Aazam mosque in the Gulf sultanate of Oman (AFP)

Omanis protested in their hundreds outside the Ministry of Manpower in Muscat demanding jobs on Monday, the second week of protests over unemployment in the Gulf country.

Such protests are rare in Oman, which suffers from high unemployment among graduates and school leavers.

The crowd shouted “We want jobs” and “We are tired of waiting” as anti-riot police stood on guard, the National reported. No arrests were reported.

After several hours of the peaceful protest, five jobseekers were escorted into the ministry’s building “to meet with one of the ministry’s officials and to listen to the demands”, a source told the WAF blog.

The ministry has so far not commented publicly on the protests.

According to Ministry of Manpower data, there are more than 54,000 registered jobseekers, and unemployment in 2016 stood at 18 percent.

The vast majority of private sector jobs are taken by expats, with just 237,900 Omanis working in the sector compared to 1.87 million expats, according to Ministry of Manpower figures.

“We have been promised jobs for so long, but nothing has happened so far,” 25-year-old IT graduate Salim al-Hashar, told the National.

“I have been waiting for 14 months, since I graduated, and I have been rejected everywhere I have gone to apply.”

The government pledged to hire 25,000 unemployed Omanis in October, following a royal decree by ruler Sultan Qaboos Bin Said to increase job opportunities for Omanis in the government and private sectors.

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