Rich biodiversity can support cosmetics industry

Oman’s vast plant and marine resources have the potential to fuel the growth of a promising cosmetics industry in the Sultanate, say scientists at Sultan Qaboos University (SQU).
Chemical compounds derived from these resources can be processed to manufacture, among other things, a wide array of skin, hair care and other commercially valuable products, they point out.
According to Saif al Bahri, Professor of Microbiology/Molecular Biology, SQU, around half a million tonnes of marine resources are harvested from Omani waters ever year. In addition to fish and seafood, this rich harvest also includes ingredients that can go into the production of cosmetics, he said.
“If we also look at our plant resources, there are vegetables and fruits that go wasted every day. Taking lycopene as an example, we can extract this red carotene from tomatoes and other red fruits and vegetables, such as red carrots, watermelons, and papayas. This substance will make the lipstick manufacturing industry worth more than RO 10 per stick of lipstick,” he explained.
According to the professor, young researchers at SQU’s Biology Department are already experimenting with novel ways of producing cosmetics with compounds sourced from Oman’s rich biodiversity. However, taking these innovations to market will require mindset changes, as well as an enabling environment, he stressed.
“We teach the basic skills to these students who then come up with brilliant ideas. This is the first step. But we have a serious challenge to get society to accept these new ideas. Changing mindsets is very important. A bigger issue is to get the authorities concerned to make it possible for these ideas and initiatives to be commercialised.”
Dr Salim al Rawahi, CEO of ORIGO Integrated Projects LLC, said the Sultanate’s diverse terrestrial and marine resources hold promising commercial opportunities.