MUSCAT: The Sultanate exported $8.3 billion worth of non-oil goods in 2019, according to Ithraa – Oman’s inward investment promotion and export development agency. Omani products are present in 130+ countries, according to Ithraa. “Exporting is good for Omani business, good for Omani workers and good for Omani jobs. Put simply, when Oman exports, Oman prospers,” it has stressed.
Ithraa has been supporting Omani businesses in all stages of their export journey. Today,
In partnership with a host of government agencies, the agency has focused on promoting Oman as a world-class destination for business and a location of choice for potential relocations and expansions. Ithraa officials undertake both pro-active lead generation and project handling to attract new inward investment from key international markets.
“We work hard to bring the attention of the international business community to the vast investment opportunities Oman offers, to its exceptional potential in manufacturing, tourism, fisheries, mining and logistics. Ithraa also vigorously promotes the measures that have been taken to create an attractive business and investment environment. These include our roads – recognized as amongst the best in the world, our award-winning airports and state-of-the-art ports, our flourishing industrial estates, free zones and technology parks. And of course our new foreign investment legislation,” it said in a review of its activities in the first quarter of this year.
Led by Nasima al Balushi, Ithraa’s Export Team helps Omani non-oil exporters explore and penetrate markets around the world. In fact, the efforts of the Ithraa Export Team have been helping grow jobs at home, strengthen our economy, and ensure long-term, sustainable economic growth for nearly 25 years.
Nasima and her team work hand-in-hand with local businesses providing market intelligence, organizing trade missions, B2B meetings with international buyers and agents as well as the highly popular and successful OPEX exhibitions that are co-organized with Oman Chamber of Commerce & Industry (OCCI) and Madayn – the most recent of which was held in Rwanda in early March.
Designed to boost bilateral trade and investment, the four-day Kigali trade show provided 60 Omani exporters with a platform to showcase their products and services to a growing and influential Rwandan business community. The 60 exhibitors met with over 320 Rwandan firms during the B2B sessions we organized. And according to a post-event survey, 24 per cent of the participating Omani firms had already reported securing export orders while 64 per cent are in the process of finalizing agreements with Rwandan agents and distributors.
In February, Ithraa took a stand at the highly popular Gulfood exhibition in Dubai – a trade show that attracts 5,000 exhibitors and over 90,000 attendees. Post-event research indicates 75 per cent of the firms on the Oman pavilion sealed export deals, one firm securing an export order worth in the region of $130,000 and another at $75,000.
At the beginning of the year, and in partnership with the Ministry of Agriculture and Fisheries, Ithraa co-organized the sultanate’s pavilion at the seasonal honey exhibition in Doha. Eleven Omani honey producers participated at the show, 90 per cent of which secured export orders.
Ithraa’s Export Team and their partners are helping ramp-up the presence of Oman made goods and services in markets around the world. From fish, environmentally-friendly fertilizer and polyethylene pipes to steel, pasta, cement, fine ceramic tiles, fibre-optic and electrical cables, Oman is building a strong industrial base as we broaden and deepen its national economy.
New investment frontiers
On the investment front, the health sector has been very much on Ithraa’s radar of late along with opportunities for green investment and those in future-focused technology. Recent examples of its activity in this regard include a programme it organized for a British company researching options for making their environmentally friendly plastic bags locally and one for investors in 4IR technology. At the moment Ithraa finalising plans for a post-pandemic visit by an investor looking to set up a hospital specialised in kidney disease here.
At the end of Q1, Ithraa registered three US and European investors working in manufacturing, packaging, food industry, tourism and real estate, taking steps to initiate projects in Muscat and Sohar.
In mid-February and along with senior management from the Public Authority for Mining (PAM) and Minerals Development Oman, Ithraa presented at an investment webinar hosted by Stephanie Hallett, Deputy Chief of Mission at the US Embassy in Muscat. The webinar gave US businesses an opportunity to learn more about Oman’s new mining law and the investment opportunities available in this growing sector. PAM has identified new mining investment projects and initiatives estimated at over $2 billion.
The new legislation provides a far more robust framework for Oman’s mining sector, one that offers incentives, transparency, and greater certainty for investors. It also covers PAM’s role with regards issuing mining licences and concessions, protecting local communities and the environment, prioritising local employment, as well as enforcing investment commitments.
“In our view, investment interest in Oman’s mining sector is clearly being driven by factors that include: the new legislation, presence of a wide array of geological resources ranging from precious metals to industrial minerals, outstanding support infrastructure and logistics in the form of road networks, free zones, industrial estates and ports and easy access to major international markets.”