Omani French Association to continue strengthening community ties

The Omani French Friendship Association fourth season reception held on Wednesday, September 25, 2019, at the Crowne Plaza Hotel, Qurum was an evening not only of networking but an opportunity for two pre-selected SMEs to present their products and business acumen to the attendees.
Renaud Salins, the French Ambassador, opened the meeting by welcoming the new Board Members of the Association.
He summed up this year’s achievements saying, “We can already consider it a fruitful year for cooperation between our two countries as illustrated by the visit of a delegation of 30 French companies led by MEDEF International in March, the successful second edition of the “French Week in Oman”, and, more recently, the official signature of the partnership between Thales and the Public Authority for Privatization and Partnership to support the Advanced Cybersecurity Academy in Muscat.
As an organisation, Salins said that the aim is to strengthen the bilateral relations between Oman and France while fostering economic and cultural exchanges between the two communities.
“I know for a fact that many French companies present tonight are keen to develop their activities in Oman and contribute to the Sultanate’s economic and social development,” he said.
OFA’s Coordinator, Marie Eliçagaray, introduced the new season’s programme to the 60 OFA members present. The calendar for 2019/2020 promised to be really exciting, with an Omani Women’s Award, a Financial event, a live music party during winter months, a round table on Oil & Gas, a contest for SMEs in the tourism sector, the annual French Week and much more.
Later in the evening, two local SME representatives identified by the SME Development Fund (SMEF) presented their young enterprise companies to the assembly.
First came Amar al Wardi who owns the Omani speciality coffee shop “Ostool Albon” started in 2017. It was the first of its kind in Oman. The story of the name went deep into the history of the Omani coffee fleets in the 17th century during the rule of Imam Sultan Bin Saif, when there were more than 150 ships transferring the coffee beans from Yemen (Makha Port) to Muscat. The coffee was then transported to Persia, Iraq and Asia. This journey was documented by Carsten Niebuhr, a Danish explorer.
“We not only took the name but decided that our logo will immortalise the Omani fleets’ story by choosing the back of a very famous ship from Sur as our logo. The ship’s name is Fat’h Alkheer. The same name we also gave to our signature drink which consists of espresso, milk, ice and Omani dates.”
In Ostool Albon, they take the lead in spreading the culture of speciality coffees in Oman, which provided the 3rd wave of the coffee industry worldwide.
“We are looking forward to starting our own roaster soon, and we hope that one day we can serve our customers with their lovely coffee drinks with Omani coffee beans”.
Haitham al Hosni from Omani Sweets stepped up to explain the fascinating, detailed background to his family’s company, “al Hosni Halwa”. Al Hosni wants to build a strong relationship with its customers as soon as they enter their shops. Their flagship Al-Hosni shop in Al-Khod receives many tourists and students, curious to know the way traditional Omani halwa is made and served. The family has focused on this aspect of visiting tourists and has created a hospitality corner in their shops. Customers can enjoy legendary Omani hospitality while tasting different flavours of halwa with Omani kahwa. The staff at the outlet are happy to answer all the questions they receive from tourists and take them through the process of making halwa, creating a lasting impression to spread the word. Sadly, no samples were available! After the presentations by Omani entrepreneurs, the rest of the evening saw candidates and invitees continue to enjoy networking and discussing the achievements of the OFA over the past three years.