January 25, 2018 / 7:19 PM / 8 months ago

Omani government working to create 25,000 jobs in six months

RIYADH (Reuters) - The Omani government said on Thursday it was working to create 25,000 jobs in six months, part of efforts to curb high unemployment in the small, oil-exporting Gulf Arab state.

The announcement came after hundreds of unemployed people demonstrated on Monday at the Ministry of Manpower in Oman’s capital Muscat, and another protest in the southern city of Salah, according to witnesses.

“The cabinet is closely monitoring the implementation of the decision to create 25,000 jobs ... in no more than 6 months as a first phase,” said a statement published by the state news agency.

Government work with private sector enterprises on the issue was starting to bear fruit, it said. Unemployment reached 17.5 percent in 2016, according to most recent statistics available.

Oman was rocked by Arab Spring-style protests in 2011 in which demonstrators demanded jobs, political reforms and an end to corruption. The protests subsided after authorities promised more jobs.

With smaller oil and financial reserves than its wealthy neighbors, Oman has spent heavily on industrial and infrastructure projects to diversify its economy beyond oil.

This month it announced plans to boost spending in the 2018 budget, despite increasing concern among credit rating agencies about the health of the country’s finances.

Reporting by Marwa Rashad; Editing by Sami Aboudi and Matthew Mpoke Bigg/Mark Heinrich

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