Muscat: Dr Ali bin Masoud al Sunaidi, Minister of Commerce and Industry, said that the gross domestic product (GDP) grew 6.5 per cent during the first quarter of this year, with the share of crude rising by 1.1 per cent and gas by 100 per cent. Non-oil activities increased by 2 per cent, while the construction sector recorded a decline of 12.6 per cent.
During his lecture at Sultan Qaboos University (SQU) on the Omani economy on Tuesday, Dr Sunaidi said that of the non-oil activities that contributed to GDP growth the manufacturing sector grew 17.8 per cent in the first quarter of this year and other manufacturing industries 22 per cent, mining and quarrying 15 per cent, basic chemicals 14 per cent, and agriculture and fisheries 7.6 per cent.
Wholesale and retail trade recorded a growth of 6.5 per cent, hotel and restaurant sector 7.2 per cent, transport, storage and communications 6.9 per cent, real estate, leasing and commercial activities 6.5 per cent while the services sector decreased by 3 percent.
Dr Sunaidi said “GDP at fixed prices grew from RO3.5 billion in 1990 to RO28.5 billion last year, indicating that this is a qualitative shift in the GDP. The contribution of petroleum products amounted to RO7 billion in the GDP and natural gas RO1.3 billion of contribution in 2017. Oil accounts for 30 to 33 per cent of GDP at present.
During the lecture, he reviewed the most important points for the advancement of the national economy, stressing the importance of benefiting from the location of the Sultanate at the intersection of three continents, namely Asia, Africa and Europe.
He pointed out that the Sultanate currently has 3 major ports and five airports. The trade and investment is facilitated by InvestEasy and Bayan.
The Minister of Commerce and Industry spoke about several aspects of the Omani economy, the future of entrepreneurship and the features of the Omani economy.
Dr Sunaidi also reviewed the roles of small and medium enterprises, the role of innovation in the Omani economy and the impact of technology on future businesses. Loans totaling RO 80 million were disbursed by the Al Rafd Fund creating 3,000 jobs with an average salary of RO 500. More than 85 per cent of those who took loans are paying back their installment loans on time despite the slowdown experienced by the Omani economy over the past number of years.
The enterprises under Riyada – the Public Authority for SME Development signed contracts worth RO 16 million and created 11,000 jobs and this number is expected to double in 2020. The term entrepreneurship is always confused with ownership of small and medium enterprises as the many Omanis who own enterprises that earn them RO 50 per month cannot be named entrepreneurs as entrepreneurship requires much more steps, Al Sunaidi said.
Al Sunaidi explained that stepping towards a new stage of the economy depends on a number of things such as the modern technologies, big data, artificial intelligence, internet of things and the virtual reality.
Some jobs like accountancy and data analysis will disappear. Likewise, the need for receptionists will vanish in the future and they will be replaced by robots. Skills and scientific knowledge are the only weapon that will prove useful in the coming period.
During the lecture, Al Sunaidi reviewed 21 examples of entrepreneurs who made big success by applying technology and artificial intelligence techniques. He urged young people and entrepreneurs to invest in manufacturing, mining, petrochemical industries, energy, agriculture and fisheries. — ONA