30 May 2016
Salalah - Salalah Free Zone is poised to contribute to the national economy in a big way by creating 2,000 direct jobs and foreign investment of $55 million and export of 12 million garments a year. It has also attracted first investment of its kind in the Sultanate in the field of jewellery and ornaments, cold storage and warehousing facilities and logistics solutions. Four major events were held at Salalah Free Zone (SFZ) on Monday in which foundation for two new companies were laid, while an agreement was signed to set up a logistic company and official opening of an international garment company was held inside the free zone premises.

The two new companies Darvesh and Tara Jewels Ltd would start operation immediately with the setting up of basic infrastructure construction activities. Both the companies are likely to actualise their full operation by the 2018. Gems and jewellery company Tara is likely to start its trading activities soon by bringing goods from its factories in India after getting the financial set up in place, while Darvesh, which has products like cold storage, dry stores, offices, loading dock levellers and loading/unloading integrated services, is hoping to start full operation sometime in 2018.

The high-profile event was held under the auspices of Sayyid Mohammed bin Sultan bin Hamoud al Busaidy, Minister of State and Governor of Dhofar, while a large number of dignitaries attended the event. Present on the occasion were Ahmed bin Nasser al Mehrzi, Minister of Tourism and Chairman of Salalah Free Zone (SFZ); Abdullah Aqeel al Ibrahim, Acting Deputy Governor of Dhofar; officials from SFZ, Public Establishment for Industrial Estates (PEIE) and investors. Both Darvesh and Tara will invest $10m and $3m respectively in the first phase, which is likely to grow manifold in coming years.

Talking to Oman Observer, M Hasan Lala, General Manager Investment of Darvesh said: "We are looking at Salalah as an investment opportunity because it is going to emerge as a transshipment hub in near future. We are here to fill the gap with basic facilities, which are needed in Salalah for those who are coming here to do business." "We see good demand for all the products which we are planning to launch in SFZ. Cold storage is needed to store fish and other consumable products, dry stores for fast moving commercial goods, and dry stores for fast moving consumer goods. Similarly, there is shortage of offices and warehouses in Salalah. We are here to fill those gaps," he said.

VP Garg, Executive Director and CFO of Tara Jewels Ltd, is pinning hope on Oman's healthy business environment, facilities at SFZ and good port and airport connectivity of Salalah. Similarly, garments company Fashion Apparel is the first tenant company in the Salalah Free Zone. With the $20 million investment and 200,000 sq ft of production space, Fashion Apparel is the largest company in Salalah. Currently, there are 380 guest workers and 80 nationals inducted into the workforce. In six months this facility expecting to achieve its full capacity employing more than 2,000 experienced associates of which 500 will be Omanis.

A memorandum of understanding was also signed between Oman Gulf Logistics and Salalah Free Zone to give a boost to logistics sector and facilitate the demand of investors. The company has been allotted 100,000 square metres to develop the facilities. Awadh bin Salim al Shanfari, CEO of Salalah Free Zone, expressed happiness over the growth of basic infrastructure and facilities for investors and assured the gathering that the SFZ would keep on improving facilities to attract more and more investments. Ali bin Mohammed Tabouk, Executive Vice-President for Commercial Affairs in the free zone, said it was proud moment for the Salalah Free Zone to see Made in Oman products in the international market. "We endeavour to achieve our goal in making Salalah a hot destination for investors," he said.

© Oman Daily Observer 2016