Privatisation, energy transition make headway

1: His Majesty the Sultan issues a series of Royal Decrees promulgating landmark laws hailed as a watershed in the Omani government efforts to modernise its business regulatory environment and thereby enhance the Sultanate’s appeal as a destination for foreign direct investors. The Foreign Capital Investment Law, Public-Private Partnership Law, Privatisation Law, and Bankruptcy Law, represent the cornerstones of a new legislative and regulatory framework that effectively catapults Oman into a league of investor-friendly nations of the world.
3: Petroleum Development Oman’s (PDO) Rabab Harweel Integrated Project (RHIP) has entered the start-up phase with gas production from the first sour wells, marking a key milestone for the mega project and coming two months ahead of schedule.
6: Oman received the highest amount of foreign investment among the Arab nations last year, according to the 2019 Investment Attractiveness Index published by Dhaman, the Arab Investment and Export Credit Guarantee Corporation.
9: The Government of Oman is finalising a new Securities Law, designed to stimulate the growth of a sound and vibrant securities market in the Sultanate.
11: Oman has improved its ranking in the global economic openness index, jumping seven positions over last year to 53 in 2019.
14: As part of its ongoing efforts to ensure the best global standards, Oman Airports has signed an agreement with Germany’s Aaronia AG to supply and install the latest Drone Detection System at Muscat International Airport.
15: The Oman Power and Water Procurement Company (OPWP) is contemplating the development of the nation’s first-ever Thermal Solar project to support the future energy requirements of the Special Economic Zone (SEZ) at Duqm.
16: Khazaen Economic City (KEC), the master developer of the new 52 million sqm integrated economic city in Barka, has unveiled the Detailed Master Plan (DMP) of the new economic city.
16: Oman Power and Water Procurement Company (OPWP) has issued a Request for Qualifications (RfQ) linked to the development of two new solar-based Independent Power Projects (IPPs) with a combined capacity ranging from 1,000- 2,200 MW.
16: Oman signs two loan agreements with the Arab Fund for Economic and Social Development (AFESD) worth RO 113.6 million.
27: Asyad plans to study potential sites for the establishment of small ports at various locations around the Sultanate’s coastline.
30: Oman Drydock Company (ODC) has set its sights on evolving into a full-fledged shipyard from 2023.
31: Energy majors Eni (Italy) and BP sign an agreement to unlock the gas potential of Block 77.
31: The National Payment Systems Law comes into force. The new regulatory framework, supported by comprehensive Executive Regulations, will support the growth of a strong fintech industry in Oman.

AUGUST
4: ASYAD Group has announced the launch of a dedicated call centre to further improve customer-service for the growing number of national, regional and global clients.
6: Duqm Hongtong Pipes Company, a Chinese-Omani partnership, celebrates the groundbreaking of Oman’s first factory for manufacturing Reinforced Thermopolyethlene Pipes at the Special Economic Zone of Duqm.
14: The 50-megawatt (MW) Dhofar Wind Farm produces its first kilowatt hour of electricity, marking a major milestone for the GCC region’s first utility-scale wind farm.
18: Oman raised $3 billion with its first foray in the international debt markets this year after receiving strong demand from global investors looking for high returns in a low yield environment.
19: Public services provided by as many as 59 different Omani government ministries and institutions are proposed to be digitalised over the next four years as part of a wider strategic bid to drive the growth of a full-fledged Information & Communications Technology (ICT) industry in the Sultanate.
21: Oman can continue to bank on its thriving non-oil sectors to drive economic growth over the medium term, aided by a flurry of new enabling policy actions and a brightening business environment, the Central Bank of Oman (CBO) said in its newly published 2018 Annual Report.
24: The Ministry of Commerce and Industry has launched Phase 2 of the Industrial Strategy 2040, in collaboration with the United Nations Industrial Development Organization (UNIDO), which aims at identifying the policies and tools required for the successful implementation of the strategy.

SEPTEMBER
7: The Telecommunications Regulatory Authority has named Oman Future Telecommunications Company (Vodafone) as the third mobile operator services in the Sultanate.
8: Oman Air has unveiled its Transformation Plan, which calls on the airline’s workers across all levels to deliver operational improvements and work with an empowered focus to deliver continuous progress.
17: Oman’s ambitious Vision 2040 strategy, first unveiled last year, seeks to catapult the Sultanate into the ranks of the world’s most ‘developed nations’. The blueprint targets economic growth of around 5 per cent annually over the 2021-2040 timeframe.
18: Omran plans to offer part of its expanding portfolio of hospitality assets for private investment in line with the Omani government’s broader privatisation strategy.
22: The Public Authority for Privatisation and Partnership (PAPP) has signed an agreement with Thales for advanced cyber range solutions and training at the Oman’s Advanced Cybersecurity Academy (ACA).
29: Oman Aviation Academy (OCA) has signed a contract for the development and construction of the Academy’s facilities at Suhar Airport.

OCTOBER
6: Bilateral trade between Oman and the United States has surged in value to over $4 billion in 2018, buoyed by a landmark Free Trade Agreement (FTA) forged by the two countries a decade ago.
7: The Capital Market Authority (CMA) has issued the regulations underpinning the Health Insurance Scheme (Dhamani) due to be rolled out in the Sultanate.
7: The newly established Public Authority for Privatisation and Partnership (PAPP) is currently examining as many as 38 projects for implementation via the Public Private Partnership (PPP) route.
8: Oman’s Ministry of Agriculture and Fisheries has identified nine locations along the Sultanate’s coast for the establishment of fishery harbours via the Public Private Partnership (PPP) route.
8: Oman features in the top 10 markets that have most rapidly improved their trade growth potential over the past decade, according to new research from Standard Chartered.
10: The Ministry of Oil and Gas (MoG) and Shell Exploration and Production Oman BV (Oman Shell) signed an Exploration & Production Sharing Agreement (EPSA) for Block 55 in the southeast of the Sultanate.
12: Omran announces the successful completion of the construction work package of Madinat Al Irfan Theatre as part of Oman Convention & Exhibition Center (OCEC) project.
19: Mazoon Dairy, the first of an array of government-backed investments in support of the nation’s food security goals, rolls out its brand of ‘Made in Oman’ dairy products today, targeting markets in Muscat and Suhar before distribution is progressively ramped up to cover the entire Sultanate.
27: Leading manufacturer Diamond Aircraft Industries to supply six single-engine and two twin-engine airplanes to Oman Aviation Academy, with options for the delivery of several more in the future.

NOVEMBER
4: Sohar Port and Freezone celebrated its 15th Anniversary in a glittering ceremony at the Kempinski Hotel Muscat
10: Profit before taxes of the banking sector exceeded half-a-billion mark for the first time in the banking history of Oman, the CBO announced. Commercial banks grossed RO 520 million in pretax earnings during 2018 compared to RO 452 million during the previous year.
12: Five sites have so far been identified by Asyad to be leased to private investors for development under the Design, Build, Finance, Operate and Transfer (DBFOT) model for a period of 25 years
12: Musandam Power Company (MPC) SAOG, the subsidiary company from Oman Oil and Orpic Group, has announced the successful close of Phase I of its IPO for listing on the Muscat Securities Market.
16: The Capital Market Authority (CMA) is weighing the introduction of a number of new products and instruments designed to enable, among others, small and medium enterprises to tap the capital market for their financing needs, while also creating new investment opportunities for the retail masses.
17: Khazaen Economic City (KEC) signs agreement to establish first of its kind inland port in Oman
25: The Government of the Sultanate of Oman acting through the Ministry of Finance has mandated Bank Muscat (including its Shariah compliant window, Meethaq Islamic Banking), Bank Nizwa and Alizz Islamic Bank as Issue Managers to establish an Omani Rial Sovereign Sukuk Programme and the launch of the first Sukuk issuance under the Programme.
25: Ithraa, Oman’s investment promotion and export development agency, unveiled the Invest in Oman portal at a ceremony held at the Implementation Support & Follow-up Unit (ISFU)
25: The feasibility of selling a modest stake in Oman Oil and Orpic Group — the Sultanate’s integrated energy and petrochemicals powerhouse — will be explored in a study planned in 2020.

DECEMBER
2: Musandam Power Company (MPC) SAOG, the subsidiary company from Oman Oil and Orpic Group, has announced the successful close of Phase II of its IPO.
3: The Oman Credit and Financial Information Centre — the Sultanate’s first National Databank — was inaugurated at a spectacular event under the brand ‘Mala’a’.
11: Oman signs the Base Erosion and Profit shifting (BEPS) multilateral convention introduced by the Organization of Economic Development and Cooperation (OECD)
15: Nama Holding, the holding company of state-owned electricity network companies, signs on Sunday agreements pertaining to the sale of 49 per cent shares of Oman Electricity Transmission Company (OETC) to the State Grid International Development Ltd. (SGID), a wholly-owned subsidiary of the State Grid Corporation of China (SGCC).
16: The Capital Market Authority (CMA) has approved the results of the allocation of the First and Second issues of the Sukul Al Ijara programme of Oman Sovereign Sukuk Company in private placements.
17: Oman Oil and Orpic Group announce the culmination of a year of integrating nine core businesses under a new brand identity called ‘OQ’.
27: Aman Real Estate Investment Fund — the first REIT in the Sultanate — will launch its IPO early in the New Year.