Purpose: Successful localization policies are critical to the resolution of difficult social problems in the Gulf States relating to rising populations and youth unemployment. Successful localization is proving difficult, however, and this paper aims to look specifically at Omanization in an effort to contribute to a better understanding of a complex socio-economic arena. Design/methodology/approach: The paper is based on 25 interviews with Ministerial officials and senior private sector managers with human resource management responsibilities in Oman. Interviews were open-coded to allow factors specific to Oman to emerge from the data. Findings: Key findings are that the perceptions of the employability of locals remains a difficult supply side problem and employers' preferences for foreign labour remains a difficult demand side problem. Research limitations/implications: The paper is strengthened by the involvement of senior managers yet it is difficult to separate stereotypes of local labour from stereotypes of foreign workers. Practical implications: The insights reported in the paper identify key areas for further development of localization policy. Originality/value: The paper provides a new perspective on the difficulties of localization in the Gulf States.