Omani employment and the development of careers in the hotel sector in the Sultanate of Oman
Al-Balushi, Masooma Khamis Mahmood
Cardiff Metropolitan University
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The vision of 2020 for Oman focuses on two main areas; the first area is to diversify the country's economy away from its reliance on oil. The second area is to focus on the Omanisation Plan (OP) through development and increasing the Omani workforce in all different sectors in the country. Tourism in the Sultanate of Oman as an alternative to dependence on oil has become one of the economic engines for the country's development. Hotels are a corner stone in the tourism industry. This study focused on the implementation of the Omanisation Plan in the hotel sector, and enhanced understanding of the issues relating to hotel employment in an Islamic/Omani context which threatens the feasibility of economic diversification through tourism for the Sultanate of Oman. This study adopted a case study approach, and was carried out in four stages. The first stage was the analysis of extant literature and documents to develop a theoretical background for the research. The second stage involved document analysis as well as incorporating semi-structured interviews with government official and tourism experts to explore the extent of the implementation of OP in the hotel sector. The third stage involved conducting semi-structured interviews with hotel employers and hotel employees to explore the main constraints that impact on the recruitment and retention of Omanis in the hotel sector, and the main social and cultural factors and the Islamic doctrines limiting the implementation of OP in the sector. Final stage was to provide recommendations to address the employment issues in the hotel sector. The study concludes that there are different issues facing the hotel industry in the Sultanate as any other country in the world such as: labour turnover and poor staff retention, issues of recruitment and selection, lack of job continuity and job security, low remuneration and poor working conditions, qualifications and training, and skills gaps and skills shortages, and lack of foreign language skills. Conversely, the industry in the Sultanate has its other issues with regards the social and cultural issues as an Arabic and Islamic country. These issues summarised as: religious issues, family and social attitudes towards hospitality careers, image of the industry amongst Omani society, and hospitality career reputation. Although these issues can be evident elsewhere in the world, however in terms of religion; these issues can be only unique to Arab and Muslim countries. Notwithstanding, these issues are shared by other Arab and Muslim countries, yet, the extent of applying these principles varies from person to another in the one society and from country to another. The main contributions of this study include its pioneering contribution to the body of knowledge of the Omani employment profile in the hotel sector in the Sultanate of Oman. This study is the first study in the Sultanate to explore the employment issues in the hotel industry in terms of exploring the social and cultural issues relating to the industry, as well as the Islamic perspectives of working in the hotel industry.
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