Mr. Saeed Saleh Saeed Al Kiyumi, Chairman of Oman Chamber of Commerce and Industry, speaks to United World about Oman’s recipe for success, it’s diversification strategy, incentives for investors priorities of his new mandate heading the OCCI
What has been the recipe for Oman’s success?
There are a number of factors that led to what we have today on top of which is having a carefully designed plans and strategies. We are not reaping the benefits of H.M the Sultan's interest in the building of the Omani man. It should be noted that the development of human resources has been one of the main interests of H.M the Sultan's far-sighted policies. This has in turn led to a great social and economic stability. The Sultanate has balanced and friendly relations with all countries of the world which in turn provided many opportunities for having business relations with these countries.
Could we have an overview of the current trade balance in Oman, especially regarding manufactured products and diversification strategy?
Economic indicators point out that the Omani economy is doing well; thanks to the endeavors made by the government to diversify the national economy. Oman has made much headway in promoting the industrial sector and expanding the production base. To this end it provides considerable support to industrialists in the sultanate either in terms of providing land plots, technical advice or incentives.
Please expand on the current legal framework established by the government in order to increase quality and enhance external trade?
In its bid to attract foreign and local investments, the government provides investors with scores of incentives in the industrial and free zone areas. Investments in these areas have preferential treatment over the investments in other areas.
How are you working to spread the Oman label in the region but also globally?
We are doing our best to promote for the Omani products and showcase the progress made by our countries in many friends. We are very active in taking part in international exhibition and forming trade delegations. We also operate trade delegation to countries where we feel there is a potential for doing business with.
How is the chamber working to improve youth skills and protection of SMEs in Oman?
OCCI is the representative of the private sector interests including those of the SMEs. We are trying to provide every possible support to SMEs. OCCI has unveiled a number of initiatives that evolve around promoting SMEs though involving them in the trade delegations operated by OCCI or providing them with training courses or provide them with a platform where they can meet with decision-makers. We are helping them to have access to new markets and displaying their products in the different gatherings.
May you please expand on the eighth Five-Year Development plan (2011-2015), especially regarding the aims to develop the information technology and telecommunications industries through major projects such as KOM (Knowledge Oasis Muscat)?
The Sultanate is deeply interested in the development of the IT&C sector. Knowledge Mine at Knowledge Oasis Muscat (KOM) is a good evidence of this interest. The program supports the SMEs by hosting the IT&C ventures of the Omani entrepreneurs. The center is a good platform for the Omani entrepreneurs operating in IT field as it provides them with the opportunity to develop their products and services by benefits from the wide range of services offered by the incubator.
The Sultanate has maintained its 40th position at the World Report for E-Readiness for 2014, issued by the World Economic Forum. The report measures the readiness of the country to develop its capabilities in IT & C fields and enhance its competitiveness.
The Sultanate was also ranked 12th on the world level in terms of public spending on advanced IT&C and 13th in terms of the importance of IT&C in government vision. The Sultanate also came 15th in terms of awareness of the IT&C sector. The achievement is attributed to the sincere efforts made by our government. I am sure the future for this sector is very promising.
A part from the oil and gas industry, which are the sectors where you expect a highest growth in terms of industrial activity in the next few years?
As part of the efforts made to diversify sources of national economy and reduce reliance on single exhaustible source, the Sultanate has shifted focus on more sustainable sectors such as tourism. The government has made inroads in promoting and activating the role played by this sector in the national economy. Many investments were made to provide the required high quality infrastructure and promote for the tourism potentials in the Sultanate.
The Omani government is also focusing on new sectors such as logistics and supply chains to meet the growth in demand that will be generated by the free zones and economic areas.
The government plans to make the Sultanate a logistic hub not only for the GCC area but for the whole world.
Efforts are also being made to make the Sultanate a hub for treatment and MICE tourism especially after opening Oman Center for Conventions and Exhibitions and the Medical City in Salalah in 2015 summer.
What are your priorities of your new mandate heading the OCCI?
We are seeking to activate the role played by OCCI with its partners in the government and private sector. We are also more interested in promoting SMEs and providing them with the opportunity to grow.
How are you encouraging private sector enterprises to play an active role in the development process of Omani trade and industry sectors?
The private sector is a real and basic partner with the government in the building of the nation. We are trying to maximize the role played by the sector by ensuring more involvement in decision making and drafting economic laws.
Could you please give us an overview of the current involvement of the USA in Oman’s industry in terms of private investment and what were the results of the Oman Roadshow in the USA last October in the manufacturing sector?
The economic and business relations between the Sultanate and U.S are still below expectations therefore there is a scope for working on this in the future.
What areas of cooperation you would like to see developed between the two nations?
There are areas such as energy, manufacturing, agricultural development, infrastructure and many other sectors.