Tuesday, June 18, 2024 | Dhu al-hijjah 11, 1445 H
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EDITOR IN CHIEF- ABDULLAH BIN SALIM AL SHUEILI

Risks of dependence on hydrocarbons

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Like many other countries in the Middle East, Oman for the past 50 years has been heavily dependent on oil as a source of revenue. In fact, the country's economy has been heavily reliant on the oil industry since the discovery of oil in the early 1960s. While this has brought significant economic benefits to the country, it has also created a dangerous level of dependence on a single commodity, leaving Oman vulnerable to the volatility of the global oil market.


The issue of dependence on oil is not new to Oman. Countries such as Saudi Arabia and Kuwait have dealt with this issue for decades and have taken clear steps to diversify their economies. Oman dependence on oil exports will need to be addressed if it hopes to build a sustainable and diversified economy.


According to economist Jeremy Jones, one of the biggest challenges facing Oman is the oil market’s volatility. Prices can fluctuate wildly, which can have a significant impact on Oman's economy. When oil prices are high, Oman's economy booms. But when prices drop, the country can experience significant economic downturns. This volatility can create uncertainty for foreign investors and make it difficult for Oman to plan for the future.


Another challenge facing Oman is the limited nature of its oil reserves. While Oman's oil reserves are significant, they are not infinite. As the world's oil reserves begin to dwindle, it becomes increasingly important for Oman to diversify its economy to ensure long-term economic stability. If the country fails to do so, it risks being left behind as other countries transition to alternative energy sources.


In addition to these challenges, Oman's dependence on oil has also created significant environmental challenges. The extraction and processing of oil can have a negative impact on the environment, and Oman has already started to feel the effects of these negative effects. The oil industry has impacted the country's air quality, and there have been reports of water pollution and other environmental issues. As the world becomes increasingly focused on sustainability and reducing greenhouse gas emissions, Oman risks being left behind if it fails to address these environmental challenges.


One potential area for diversification is tourism. Oman has a rich cultural heritage and a beautiful natural environment, which makes it an attractive destination for tourists from all around the world. By investing in the tourism industry, Oman could create new jobs and revenue streams while also promoting the country's unique culture and history.


Jeffrey Lefebvre states in his article (‘Oman Foreign Policy Analysis’) that another area for diversification is renewable energy. Oman has significant potential for solar and wind power, and investing in these industries could profoundly help reduce the country's high dependence on oil revenues while promoting sustainability. In fact, Oman has already begun to progress in this area, with plans and visions to build several solar power plants in the coming years.


In addition to these areas, Oman could also invest in other industries, such as manufacturing and technology. By building a diversified economy, Oman can reduce its reliance on oil and create a more stable and sustainable future for its citizens.


Of course, diversification of the economy will not be easy, and it will require significant investment and political will. However, the alternative of remaining heavily dependent on oil is simply not sustainable nor beneficial in the long term.


By investing in areas such as tourism, renewable energy, privatization, human resource investments, and other technological industries, Oman can create new jobs and revenue streams and promote sustainability. This will reduce Oman's dependence on oil and help the country become more resilient to the volatility of the global oil market.


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