The number of craftspeople in the Sultanate reached 23,383, most of whom are in Dhofar governorate (6,902), according to the figures provided by the National Center for Statistics and Information.
North Al Sharqiyah came second with 5,336 craftspeople followed by North Al Batinah North (3438), Dakhiliyah (2095), Al Wusta (1,487), South Al Batinah (1,316), South Al Sharqiyah (1,154), Muscat (587), Al Dhahirah (456), Musandam (387) and Al Buraimi (225).
Cotton textile segment employs around 7,502 craftspeople, while 5,327 are in weaving wool and 4,045 in making incense and cosmetics.
Craftspeople play a key role in preserving heritage. Riyada (The Authority for SME Development) is keen on developing these industries along the lines of small enterprises and creating opportunities for promoting and marketing their products locally and globally.
Meanwhile, Riyada said that there is a continuous increase in the number of small and medium enterprises registered with the Authority. Till August, SMEs grew up by 22.58 per cent, to reach 56,040 units compared to 45,718 in the same month last year. “This is a reflection of the efforts, procedures, initiatives and incentives approved by the government to support the SME sector and mitigate the effects of the pandemic,” Riyada said.
The number of SMEs that obtained the entrepreneurship card (Riyada Card) increased by 53.94 per cent to reach 22,205 enterprises till August, compared to 14,424 enterprises in the same month last year.
According to Riyada, the most registered activities are wholesale and retail trade, repair of motor vehicles and motorcycles, as well as construction and manufacturing activities.
The small and medium enterprise sector has received keen attention from His Majesty Sultan Haitham bin Tarik and this was evident through a number of measures and initiatives approved by the government to support this sector with the aim of mitigating the effects of the pandemic, and creating a supportive work environment for these institutions.
Measures of the authority included providing credit incentives and relief like postponement of loan repayments and rescheduling of loans, reduction of income tax, exemption from tourist and municipal tax.
The Authority’s efforts in this aspect also included exemptions for licensing fees for small and medium enterprises, postponing the payment of monthly contributions to the social insurance system, reducing fees, exemption from late fees, emergency financing programmes, and postponing the payment of power and water dues.
Moreover, following implementation of the royal directives to adopt a package of social initiatives and to enhance the activity and sustainability of small and medium enterprises, the Authority launched the emergency financing programme directed to entrepreneurs who hold Riyada Card, with a ceiling of up to RO 10,000 and launching a package of operational initiatives.