Firms see recovery in second half

By Vinod Nair — MUSCAT: March 1 – With oil prices remaining stable at around $55 over the past couple of months, the business community in Oman has started exuding confidence that the economic situation on the ground may started begin to change from the second half of this year.

Last year, around this time people were speculating whether old prices would touch $25 or $20 or for that matter even the common man on the streets was curious to know about the actual per barrel production cost of crude and at what level the producers would start making profits, so on.

That sentiment has changed for now and the confidence level is much more positive, but businesses are yet to pick up. According to a senior economist based in Oman, 2017 may see a return to normality while the following year (2018) will be normal year unless if there is an unlikely scenario. Most of the projects that have been announced in the manufacturing, tourism and real estate sectors are expected to take off towards the end of this year. “To be frank, the last six to eight months have been not good, but there have been some encouraging new for us. We have got a good project and hope to get a couple more,” said a senior manager of a company dealing with fabrication works.

“We are expecting to bag a number of room furbishing contracts this year from residential and hotel projects. It will depend on whether these projects can progress as per schedule.” A few construction projects have been announced for the Muscat area for which construction will start in 2017, including a 100-bed hospital in Al Ghubra, a student housing complex near Sultan Qaboos University and high-end residential complexes in and around the Bausher area. Not to miss the number of projects announced in the tourism sector, including one of the biggest theme parks in Barka.

Changes in the real estate laws under which expatriate will be allowed to buy properties outside Integrated Tourism Complexes (ITCs) may also boost the construction sector and demand for allied business like fabrication, furnishing, security and cooling systems among others.