Hoehler + alSalmy 'focused' on training Omanis under expat ban

EXCLUSIVE: Muhammad Sultan Al Salmy explains how the Omani architecture giant is overcoming regulatory issues to grow in 2019

Oman has limited the number of expats that can work in construction.
CW Archives / Getty
Oman has limited the number of expats that can work in construction.

Muhammad Sultan Al Salmy, the managing director, partner, and lead architect at Oman-based consultancy Hoehler + alSalmy, told Construction Week that his firm was “highly focused on training local Omani talent” in light of the Ministry of Manpower's ban on expat employment visas for workers in the construction sector – among others – as part of the sultanate’s Omanisation drive.

He explained: “The current restrictions in the country, like the [ban on] architects and construction workers, currently being implemented in the country are preventing us from finding a way forward in what we do. 

“We are more than capable of taking on bigger projects – however, the bigger projects require experienced manpower to work on, and in order to implement internationally recognised standards and technology, we need international manpower to do so. It’s a cycle that we cannot break away from.”

With this in mind, he said the consultancy was providing “numerous internship programmes and hands-on work experience” to Omani talent in the local construction market.

Oman’s labour ministry announced its decision to extend the country’s visa ban on some occupations in the country, including construction, in April 2019.

Ministerial Decision 200/2019 included a “freeze on permits for expat workers in private sector institutions which engage in construction and cleaning work”.

Companies with more than 100 workers, those that carry out government projects, and small- and medium-enterprises (SMEs) that are registered at the Public Authority for SME development were exempted, among others, from the ruling.

“The manpower restrictions currently set in the country are creating the biggest challenge in getting new projects in Oman,” Al Salmy said.

“We currently have a 65% Omanisation rate. However, the dynamic [state of] architecture [means] firms need foreigners in order to flourish due to some of the technical specialist positions.”

Al Salmy is set to appear in the 2019 Construction Week Power 100 list, Construction Week's annual ranking of the most influential individuals working within the Middle East’s construction sector.

Look out for Construction Week's 29 June, 2019 issue, which will reveal the full list of this year's 100 most influential construction leaders in the Middle East, including Al Salmy. 

Check out Al Salmy's ranking and profile in the 2018 Construction Week Power 100 list here.

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