Lakshmi Kothaneth –
Muscat, July 28 –
Oman could benefit a great deal from the ageing population, referred to as the “silver economy”, through right planning.
Economists say the group is an asset.
Ageing population, which was considered irrelevant and less productive, might hold great potential as economies have realised there are “many services required by this segment of demographics”.
“These services are beyond medical. It could be leisure, social interaction, tourism or entertainment,” said His Highness Dr Sayyid Adham al Said, Assistant Professor of Economics at Sultan Qaboos University and founder of the Firm, Business and Economic Consulting as well as Ithraa’s “inside stories moderator”.
Ithraa, the Public Authority for Investment and Export Development, says the ageing population is a market worth $15 trillion globally by 2020.
It is time to raise awareness about the sector.
According to him, this group is often in the late stage of working life, where they might work differently or choose to enjoy other services. “They tend to be better prepared to pay for those because they have worked and might have savings where they could be enjoying the fruits of retirement. They might even move from one industry to the other.”
More people are joining this group, says the economist, making the silver economy even more interesting.
It’s a group that businesses often neglect.
“As we begin to live longer, we tend to be in that bracket — anyone above 60 years,” he said.
Dr Sayyid Adham said, “We tend to think of Oman as a young nation. Technically, the ageing population of Oman is currently between six and seven per cent. In the next two decades, it will be almost 11 per cent.
“In other words, by 2030 we are going to have a different situation. In about two decades’ time, Oman will have an ageing population. At the moment, we are unprepared. For every young person, we still have low level of dependency but that is going to change.”
“With economic dependency on one side, these are people who have worked and saved, and are willing to spend. They would have equity, be willing to travel and spend for services — that is where the opportunity lies.”
It is time to ask, “If our population is young today, it is going to be the one that is going to provide solutions for the future. What kind of solutions are we looking for?”
“Oman could be the hub for developing solutions for other ageing populations. Oman could be well-connected to provide solutions, be it in medical, tourism or developing products for other nations such as Japan, Europe or North America and other nations,” Dr Sayyid Adham said.
“Oman can start developing solutions that are not just for our population, but that which can benefit the region as well as rest of the world.”
This age group can invest in Oman as tourist or develop solutions for their society. “Whether it is mobility or transport, we should be more open minded in what we can offer to the rest of the world.”
An example, according to him, is Ireland.
It has already positioned itself to think of solutions that are “beyond the typical ones”.