The Omani government's ongoing crackdown against overstaying expatriates and others found in breach of labour laws has resulted in 410 arrests in one week, the Ministry of Manpower announced on Sunday.
The arrests, usually made during cordon-and-search operations by labour inspectors assisted by police units, were reported between May 26 and June 1, the ministry said. Expatriate-dominated areas, downtown neighbourhoods and isolated farms are typically targeted during early morning raids conducted by special teams. Thousands of arrests have been made since the crackdown began several months ago, the bulk of them Asians, but including significant numbers of Arabs as well.
Of the 410 expatriate workers detained during the latest raids, 363 were found working illegally in the sales, marketing and retail sectors. At least 31 others were farmhands employed without proper documentation in the countryside. Among those arrested were domestic helps some of whom were found to have run away from their sponsors. The bulk of the arrests were made in the capital region, while a sizeable number were also detained in the Interior Governorate.
The detainees will be housed in special holding areas set up by authorities for illegal immigrants until they are eventually deported.
The government's campaign against illegal residents was intensified in the wake of an increasing number of thefts and widespread vandalism of electrical distribution networks blamed on a series of outages in rural communities over the past year. The attacks were largely blamed on illegal residents targeting power supply infrastructure for copper cable that is sold as scrap. Such thefts have since dramatically dropped in the wake of tough controls on scrapyard activities in the sultanate, combined with improved surveillance of the country's power distribution infrastructure.