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EDITOR IN CHIEF- ABDULLAH BIN SALIM AL SHUEILI

Investments in Oman’s drone industry top $100 million

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The rapid uptake of Unmanned Aerial Vehicle (UAV) technology in the Sultanate of Oman has spawned the growth of a domestic drone industry that has garnered over $100 million in investments, according to a new report.


Titled, ‘Examining the Impact of Oman’s Drone Industry on its Growing Economy,’ the report has been published by TS2 Space, a leading international provider of telecom services that utilises global satellite constellations.


“The Sultanate of Oman is rapidly developing its drone industry, and its economic impact is becoming increasingly evident. In the past few years, this small country has seen a rapid expansion in the number of companies specialising in unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) technology, with investments totaling over $100 million. This growth has positioned Oman as an emerging leader in the region for drone-related technologies, with potential for further development and increased economic benefit,” TS2 Space noted in its report.


According to the satellite communications firm, the emerging drone industry in Oman is unleashing direct and indirect benefits for the wider national economy. New startups in this space are helping create jobs for Omanis, introduce high-tech applications and services to the local market, and support economic growth.


One sector that has benefitted significantly from the widespread application of UAV technology is agriculture, says TS2.


“Unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) are being used to monitor crops, detect pests, and improve irrigation. For example, UAVs can be used to identify water-stressed crops, detect weeds, and map out crop health. This helps farmers make more informed decisions when it comes to planting, harvesting, and disease control,” the report points out.


Noteworthy is the example of the Ministry of Agriculture, Fisheries and Water Resources (MAFWR), which has been deploying drones to spray ultra-low volume (ULV) pesticides to fight the Dubas bug and red palm weevil currently plaguing date farms in parts of Oman. The Ministry has roped in Omani SMEs Phoenix Space and Technology and Modern Star to assist in the drive.


In the pivotal energy sector, drones are increasingly being used to inspect and monitor power lines, pipelines, and other energy infrastructure. “UAVs can provide a cost-effective way to inspect hard-to-reach areas and detect potential problems before they become major issues. This helps reduce costs and improve the efficiency of energy production and distribution. Additionally, drones can be used to monitor environmental conditions, such as air and water quality, which can help ensure compliance with environmental regulations,” according to the report.


Majority state-owned Petroleum Development Oman (PDO) has tapped local Omani startup Esbaar to provide Remotely Piloted Aircraft Systems (RPAS) Services for routine surveys, inspections, and surveillance tasks across PDO’s operations areas.


Similarly, the Public Authority for Special Economic Zones and Free Zones (OPAZ) has turned to local drone startups to carry out aerial and marine surveys across its vast hub. The Authority has earmarked an 18 sq km site with the SEZ for activities and investments related to artificial intelligence (AI), which includes UAV technology.


Likewise, a number of Omani-based startups are preparing to offer drone-based parcel delivery services in select locations.


Muscat-based Mandoob Delivery Company, for example, has signed an agreement with leading global drone operator UVL to provide delivery services using drones here in Oman.


ITHCA, the ICT-centric arm of Oman Investment Authority, has also invested in drone technology solutions of Omani owned start-up Horizon Oman.


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