IRU Congress to strengthen Oman as global logistics hub

Conrad prabhu –
MUSCAT, NOV 6 –

The formal inauguration of the International Road Transport Union’s (IRU) World Congress in Muscat today is set to herald a new chapter in Oman’s quest for a place among the world’s top logistics destinations, according to a key official of ASYAD Group — the entity spearheading the Sultanate’s logistics ambitions.
Nabil bin Salim al Bimani (pictured), Group Chief (Ports and Freezones) at ASYAD, said Oman’s ongoing partnership with the Geneva-headquartered IRU — which is organising the two-day congress in collaboration with ASYAD — will help in the achievement of these strategic goals.
“When we began implementation of the Oman Logistics Strategy 2040, we identified a party to support us with expertise and insights on trends and developments around the world in the movement of goods, trade facilitation tools, and so on.
The IRU came along at that point, and we had a discussion with them on what they can do to support it. We welcome this partnership because it also provides us with the necessary tools to accelerate our logistics strategy,” said Al Bimani.
Speaking to the Observer ahead of today’s World Congress, the official said ASYAD’s membership of the IRU — the world’s preeminent transport, mobility and logistics organisation — is an affirmation of this partnership.
Also signing up as a member is Mwasalat — the Sultanate’s national bus transport operator. Both organisations have benefited from training support provided by IRU on land transport and logistics issues. The IRU also played a key role in facilitating Oman’s accession to UN conventions on trade and transport facilitation — also known as the TIR Convention — which was ratified by Royal Decree last week.
Al Bimani heads the newly established Ports & Freezones Cluster at ASYAD, representing the government’s shareholding in an array of maritime gateways, container hubs and free zones in operation around the Sultanate. Ports and free zones, while strictly not a topic on this week’s World Congress agenda, will be discussed in terms of their importance as an integral feature of the logistics industry in Oman, and indeed the wider world, said the official.
“Ports and other means of transportation are complementary to land transport,” Al Bimani explained. “They are an integral part of a system that contributes to the movement of people and goods, and while it may not be the subject of discussion during the conference, it will definitely be discussed within the scope of other related topics especially in relation to the quest for innovative solutions and better integration with land transport systems.”
The main remit of the new Ports & Freezones Cluster at ASYAD is to support the creation of a consolidated value proposition for Oman as a global logistics hub, according to the official. “While in the past, each element of this cluster did their own marketing and business development, perhaps in isolation, this time around it will be an orchestrated effort. As a cluster, we are adopting a holistic approach with each entity doing their marketing but in alignment with the bigger picture that we want to paint for the country.”
Asked whether the clustered approach to the promotion of Oman’s ports and free zones would help put an end to competition between individual entities for market share, Al Biman added: “We always believe in competition because competition ensures better service. So there’s no harm in competing in the provision of better services. That will improve the way we do business as well. But as a cluster, we are integrating efforts between the ports and free zones to the advantage of Oman as a whole.”
He further added: “Healthy competition is always welcome, but now it’s a matter of putting things in the right perspective. We are looking to market Oman and its logistics offerings together by leveraging the value proposition behind each entity. Thus, when an investor or user wants to come to Oman, they will look at the advantages offered by a certain port or free zone. This will eliminate any unhealthy competition.”
The ultimate objective, which is also the underlying mandate of ASYAD Group, is to support the logistics sector’s contribution to GDP growth, as well as Oman’s ambitions to rank among the Top 10 Logistics Services Providers of the world by 2040, he added.