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Migrants in Oman Victims of “Random” Shootings

On November 7, 2013

Muscat authorities have arrested two Omani citizens accused of shooting at least 19 people over the past few weeks. Many of the victims appear to be expatriate workers who had no ties with the assailants.  On November 3, an Indian expatriate was shot while on the way to meet his sponsor; on November 2, an Indian expatriate was shot while leaving a construction site; on October 13, yet another Indian expatriate was shot near a shopping center. Some men suffered more serious injuries than others, facing expensive medical costs because of these unprovoked assaults.

Authorities have not yet determined the motives of these attacks, but they appear to have deliberately and exclusively targeted migrant workers.

Oman recently launched a series of raids against undocumented workers, arresting over 2,300 migrants since September 1. The Ministry of Manpower has also imposed a moratorium on new visas for construction workers and cleaners, with certain exceptions, in an effort to localize employment. Gulf states implementing similar nationalization schemes and crackdowns against undocumented workers, including the UAE, Kuwait, and Saudi Arabia, must take care to eschew narratives that criminalize migrant workers and encourage xenophobia.