Muscat: Oman’s new investment programme, which will provide long-term residency to expatriates who invest in the country, aims to attract quality funding to the sectors targeted for economic diversification, according to Qais Al Yousef, the Minister of Commerce, Industry and Investment Promotion.

The scheme provides long-stay, renewable visas valid for up to 10 years to investors, provided they meet certain conditions.

“The most important thing that attracts investors to the country today is the investment environment, the returns from their investments, the incentives, the exemptions that the government always offers them, the geographical location of Oman, the national workforce, and the modern lifestyle that the country provides, and accordingly, all these factors need to be made attractive to them,” said Al Yousef, at the launch of the new investor visa scheme.

To mark the occasion, the minister also gave long-stay visas to 22 long-term expatriate investors in Oman.

“They have made investments in qualitative sectors, and also employ Omanis – some doing so in large numbers,” he explained. “These investors also include a company in Oman that has employed 4,000 Omanis in its branches. We were also keen to make sure these 22 investors were of diverse nationalities – this indicates that ours is an attractive environment for investors from everywhere.”

“I would like to invite investors to come here and take up residency for themselves and their families, in collaboration with Omani partners,” said Al Yousef. “We have received another list of investors who communicated with us their desire to join this scheme. We will look at their requests next week.”

Investment is expected to focus on areas marked for economic diversification, such as tourism, energy, mining, minerals, manufacturing, fisheries, as well as other support areas such as the service sector, medical products, education, and the environmental sector, including waste management. Emphasis has also been placed on investing in a circular economy.

“All of these sectors provide opportunities for investors to enter our economy and take advantage of the opportunities afforded by Oman,” said the minister. “All of these sectors are also compatible with the requirements of Omanisation and employment generation.”

The minister further said: “One aspect we have found requiring attention, through our review of foreign investments, is that many investors only appoint nationals after many years of operations in Oman, because only then do they understand their capabilities and experience levels.”

“This is despite the keenness and interest in Omanis to work with the investors,” he added. “Investors find it most difficult when they first begin to invest in the country, if they employ more Omanis, there will be a mix of skilled Omani and foreign workers, which will lead to a better work environment that encourages innovation and creativity.”

Azzan bin Qasim Al Busaidi, advisor to the minister, explained the criteria required for expatriate investors to qualify for the new scheme, which groups them into two categories. The first relates to those who own homes, with the individual applying for residency required to own homes that are valued in total at a minimum of OMR500,000.

“The applicant must attach to the application a copy of the title deed and an authenticated purchasing contract registered at the Ministry of Housing and Urban Planning, or an evaluation of the housing unit issued by a specialist, approved valuation company, or proof that the housing unit has been valued by the developer of the property,” he explained.

The first category of investors also includes applicants who have set up a public/closed joint-stock company.

They must submit a certificate from a licensed brokerage companies operating in Oman to prove his ownership of shares with a market value of no less than OMR500,000.

The investor can also establish other companies, but must provide a certificate issued by banks operating in Oman, to confirm they hold shares in the company that amount to at least OMR500,000. This can also be provided by a trading company in Oman.

Investor residency applicants can also fall under this category if they own a company that employs at least 50 Omani employees. Proof of this can be provided by the Ministry of Labour, or the Public Authority for Social Insurance. The scheme also includes owners of Omani government bonds valued at no less than OMR500,000 that have a remaining validity of at least two years at the time of application.

The second category of applicants includes people who fulfil any of the above conditions, but have their assets (such as property, businesses or company shares) valued at OMR250,000 instead. The same procedures as listed above apply for them as well.

“Retirees can also apply for long-term investor residency,” said Al Busaidi.

“They must have worked in Oman for at least two years, and submit a personal bank statement for a six-month period that proves his monthly income is a minimum of OMR4,000. They are also required to submit a home title deed or residential lease agreement in the name of the applicant, along with an integrated curriculum vitae.”

Applicants must be aged 21 and above to apply for this scheme. They can have this residency extended to their children as well, provided the latter are below the age of 25, and fulfil the criteria issued by the concerned authorities. They must also pay all the necessary processing fees, and adhere to the regulations concerning investment.

Investors under the new scheme are not entitled to claim Omani citizenship, except under the existing regulations in this context.

In case an investor passes away, the other members of his family are provided 90 days following his/her death to assess their situation regarding the investment. Residency may be transferred to any first or second order relative of the investor, provided they meet the required conditions.

Companies whose capital exceeds the amount mentioned in the first and second category can nominate more than one partner/employee to apply for residency, provided each one of them meet the financial requirements needed.

Should the investor be involved in a judicial ruling, they will not be required to forfeit their residency, unless they are found to have violated the Foreigners’ Residence Law, or are the recipient of a ruling that decrees their deportation from the country. Investors must also obtain a police clearance certificate authenticated by the relevant authorities in their country, as well as the local Oman embassy, or the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

Investor applicants are not required to fulfil all criteria of the new scheme at the time of applying. But should they wish to secure final approval, they have three months from the time of their application to meet the criteria needed. This time period can be extended only once, and requires the approval of the minister.

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