The industrial sector is one of the main pillars of economic development in the Sultanate of Oman. It was built over 50 years of the blessed renaissance led by the late His Majesty Sultan Qaboos. It was his vision to support, develop and encourage the industrial sector, industrial zones and national products locally and abroad.
The Ministry of Commerce and Industry believes that the visit of the late Sultan Qaboos to the Rusayl Industrial City on February 9, 1991, helped in laying strong foundations for the sector and encouraged owners of industrial organisations and establishments to take giant strides. This was a major support to the local industrial sector for improvement, diversification of industrial investments, expansion in the development of new industrial cities, linking the needs of the industry with the local society and development of local Omani skills in this sector. All these steps made major contribution in the development of the industrial sector, its revenues and increased job opportunities. The ministry said that the industrial sector is on top of the economic priorities of countries. It is considered as the wheel of development. The Sultanate depends on this sector to diversify its sources of income.
Contribution to GDP
Engineer Sami bin Salim al Sahib (pictured), Director General of Industries at the Ministry of Commerce and Industry, said that the percentage of the contribution of the manufacturing sector in the GDP during the year 2018, according to the statistics of the National Centre for Statistics and Information, reached RO 2.914 billion.
It is 9.6 per cent of the gross domestic product. The rate of growth in the sector reached 7.6 per cent. The value of Omani industrial exports was RO 4.3 billion in 2018. Omanis occupied 32,335 jobs of the sector in 2019, which was an increase of 8.4 per cent from 2018.
The data showed that the registered industrial activities at the end of the third quarter of 2019 amounted to RO 3.815 billion. The value of foreign investment in the manufacturing sector amounted to about RO 1.592 billion until the end of the second quarter of the year 2019, compared to RO 1.202 billion during the same period in the year 2018.
Engineer Sami al Sahib said that the number of industrial licenses approved to be given during the year 2019 reached 9160 and the number of electronic customs exemptions last year reached 274, compared with 183 electronic customs exemptions in 2018. The number of ministerial decisions issued regarding tax exemptions last year reached 31 compared to just to decision in the year 2018. The number of industrial licenses given through Form (B) last year reached 5,586, compared to 4,952 in 2018.
The Director General of Industries said that the Public Establishment for Industrial Zones has played a leading role in development of the industrial sector.
It revitalised the economic sectors associated with it by giving them facilities and incentives to attract local and foreign investments in industrial projects. The number of industrial areas in the Sultanate has reached nine, including the Rusayl, Suhar, Raysut, Nizwa, Sur, Al Buraimi, Samayil and Al Mazyona Free Zone. The cumulative investment volume in the various industrial cities by the end of 2018 reached about RO 6.57 billion. He said that the general approach of the ministry was to establish more industrial zones in different regions of the Sultanate.
Industrial strategy 2040 and 5-year plans
Sami al Sahib said that the ministry was focusing on implementation of the Oman Vision 2040. It is making efforts to implement its industrial strategy 2040 to achieve the objective of the Oman Vision 2040. It is doing this by developing and improving unique products, which makes health of the people better and are for their welfare. It wants that these products should reach all nook and corner of the country and find markets abroad as well. Among its methods is to attract investments and create jobs in all economic sectors. For this objective, it also looks forward for concerted efforts of all. He said that the local additional value or in-country value was one of the major tools for implementation of the industrial strategy 2040.
Omanisation in the industrial sector
On the importance of the employment of Omanis, Sami al Sahib said that the ministry has formed a technical team to monitor the recruitment in the manufacturing sector to ascertain if it is according to ministerial decision number 55/2019. The team is headed by the Director General of Industries and has members from concerned authorities. There is also another team to support the work of the technical team. With the efforts of these teams, about 10,000 more jobs were created for Omanis.
Sultan Qaboos Industrial Excellence Award
To improve the quality of Omani industrial products and encourage competition among them, the Sultan Qaboos Award for Industrial Excellence organised every two years. There was major improvement made in the process of this award, including in the criteria and basis of evaluation for which now global models and standards followed. It brought positive results in the form of improvement of production and quality.
Engineer Sami al Sahib pointed out that there were many challenges being faced by the industrial projects. We, in cooperation with the public and private sector organistions, trying to overcome these challenges. The ministry appreciates the role being played by Oman Chamber of Commerce and Industry and the Omani Industrialists Association in this regard.
He said there were lots of investments made in the projects of the manufacturing industries sector of the Sultanate. Most important of them are projects related to the National Program for Enhancing Economic Diversification — Implementation Support and Follow-up Unit known as Tanfeedh.
This national programme is headed by the Minister of Commerce and Industry and has the membership of stakeholders from the government and private sector organisations. Those projects which were included in the Tanfeedh programme last year performed better.