It was not surprising that the Arab Investment and Export Credit Guarantee Corporation “Dhaman” in Kuwait recently announced that Oman ranked top of Arab countries receiving foreign investment projects during 2018, valued at $19.6 billion and accounting for 23 per cent of total investment. This positive transformation has occurred four decades after the government established free economic zones and industrial estates and ventured into large-scale logistic and service projects on which international institutions and companies can rely to localise their industries and services in Oman.
Although there has been clear criticism of the bureaucracy practiced by some government institutions in Oman until recently, the policies currently implemented through the Implementation and Follow-up Unit have had a positive impact on the resolution of many investment issues that have been pending for years. Meanwhile, government institutions have shown great responsiveness and understanding of the negative consequences that could result in delays in making the right decision in due course.
Accordingly, Royal Decrees have been recently issued, including a batch of laws and legislative amendments imperative for opening new horizons to achieve the economic vision (Oman 2040) without obstacles on the one hand, and providing investors and businessmen with opportunities for innovative financing of upcoming development projects in the country on the other hand. These local and foreign investments will increase the Sultanate’s competitiveness in all disciplines. The recent decrees included several laws, including the new Foreign Capital Investment Law, of which the previous version has been in force since 1994. This law, along with the Public-Private Sector Partnership Law, the Privatisation Law, the Bylaw for establishing the General Authority for Privatis ation and Partnership and the Bankruptcy Law, are all expected to open new horizons for investment in Oman, offering loopholes for companies exposed to extenuating difficulties. Local and foreign investment needs more flexibility in procedures and appropriate decision-making, while Oman seeks to promote joint investments between the two sectors. These decrees will also enhance the work of institutions as a result of the improvements introduced to the new laws, and to the investment environment in Oman at this important stage and in the coming decades for Oman Future Vision 2040. In other words, these decrees are consistent with the framework of cooperation and economic integration between government institutions and the private sector, which are important to achieve the 2040 Vision smoothly and without complications and difficulties.
The next phase requires reliance on the talented Omani workforce away from favouritism, in addition to benefitting from the successful experiences of the countries that preceded us in attracting and adopting foreign investments for projects that are important to the Omani economy and avoiding and eliminating corrupt practices which blight many developing countries through all possible means. With new laws in force in the field of trade and investment, the Sultanate will no doubt climb up the ranks in special global indices as well as increase privatisation and partnership that have currently become an economic requisite and a priority to achieve the future vision of the Omani economy and push forward the development process in the country.
The priority given to the private sector by the government will contribute to the establishment of vital projects in the future, allowing this sector to stir up market forces and competition and improve the operational efficiency of projects, while creating new jobs in the country. This requires providing financing needs, encouraging foreign investment and attracting more advanced technical, administrative and technological expertise in the upcoming decades. The laws issued under Royal Decrees are in line with the government’s efforts to keep pace with change, equip the investment environment in the Sultanate and facilitate procedures for domestic and foreign investments. This entails development of the legislative system for investment and improving the business environment.
The next stage also requires utilisation of the surpluses and financial capacities of the country, along with building promising investment and development sectors in Oman, whether by sovereign funds or local financial institutions — energy, food security, modern technologies, programmes or innovations — and achieving the desired integration among them.