Investments in Salalah Free Zone, which is rapidly shaping up to be a major industrial and petrochemicals hub on the Indian Ocean, has soared to an impressive $5.6 billion, according to a top official of the nation’s first special economic zone.
The figure includes more than $1.3 billion in capital investments committed this year alone by Oman Oil Company (OOC), the energy and strategic investment arm of the Omani government.
The investments will contribute to the execution of two vital midstream and downstream projects — a Liquefied Petroleum Gas (LPG) extraction plant valued at $830 million and an estimated $450 million ammonia venture.
A ceremony marking the successful conclusion of land lease, financing and related agreements linked to the implementation of the latter project was held at the Grand Millennium Hotel here yesterday.
“Salalah Free Zone has been very keen to host strategic projects, two of which have been signed so far this year, and we thank Oman Oil Company for their trust in the free zone,” said Awadh bin Salim al Shanfari (pictured), CEO.
“However, investments in the free zone are not limited to hydrocarbon related projects. They are of a diverse nature and promoted by investors from around the world. Actual investments now total $5.6 billion and range from foodstuff manufacturing and textiles to oil and gas related ventures. We have also been successful in hosting a wide number of small and medium industries as well.”
Speaking to the Observer, Al Shanfari said the free zone continues to garner interest from international investors across a range of manufacturing activities. Notable is the case of an investor looking to develop a milk powder processing plant at the hub.
“This will be a major project that will also support Oman’s food security objectives,” said the CEO. “The textiles and garments manufacturing business is flourishing as well; we are now a major exporter to the United States, taking advantage of the Free Trade Agreement (FTA) that Oman has signed with the US.” With almost all of the available leasable land in the first two phases of the free zone already allocated to investors, Salalah Free Zone has
now embarked on the development
of a third phase, according to the official.
The local subsidiary of India-based contractor Larsen & Toubro has been appointed to prepare the basic infrastructure and facilities covering Phase 3 of the development, Al Shanfari said.
“The essence of Salalah Free Zone SFZ is to support the diversification of the economy and stimulate its growth with a view to generating employment opportunities, and facilitating trickle-down economics that impact positively on all sectors of the economy.
We also encourage Omani investors and entrepreneurs to take advantage of what is happening in Salalah Free Zone and grab opportunities that become available here. So far, the journey has been successful and we hope for more projects to be hosted in the free zone,” the CEO added.