Muscat: Oman’s economic vibrancy and flourishing pro-enterprise environment is opening up a wealth of opportunities in multiple sectors. That’s according to Qais Al Yousef, Minister of Commerce, Industry & Investment Promotion, who in an exclusive interview with Times of Oman, encourages investors to explore all the country has to offer as it powers forward under the guidance of His Majesty Sultan Haitham bin Tarik and as Oman Vision 2040 makes its mark.
“We are too an important centre for industrial innovation and hi-tech start-ups as well as home to established brands that are enjoyed the world over though perhaps not so familiar to consumers at home,” he said.
“Combine all this with excellent transport links, world-class industrial estates, free zones, deep-water ports, awarding-winning airports and globally ranked broadband and internet infrastructure and I think you begin to have a clear picture of why Oman has a distinct competitive advantage.”
Especially significant are three other factors – Oman’s free trade agreement with the US, the abundance of natural resources, and the wealth of young, educated, multilingual talent.
“Although we are commonly known for our oil and gas industry, our business strengths do not stop there,” added the minister.
“As mentioned earlier, Oman is today delivering a better than ever pro-business environment, making it even easier for investors to take advantage of the great opportunities that exist in our logistics, manufacturing, tourism, agriculture and fisheries, healthcare, education, mining and clean energy sectors.”
Al Yousef added: “Having said that, it is not just the business side of Oman that separates us from other destinations. Our cosmopolitan, vibrant community is reflected in Numbeo’s 2022 Quality of Life Index, which ranked Muscat the number two city in Asia and the Middle East for quality of life and 2nd for safety and security.”
“We understand that as talent becomes more mobile and competition to attract it is stronger, quality of life is a major consideration for companies when deciding where to invest,” he added “Housing, schools, recreational and cultural amenities and healthcare are all on their radar, along with cost of living, transportation, crime and safety and climate. As the Numbeo Index suggests, we are a welcoming, open and attractive place to live and, for all those reasons, it is an easy place for people and businesses to set-up and thrive.”
A key objective for the team at the Ministry of Commerce, Industry & Investment Promotion is to bring to the attention of the international business community the vast opportunities Oman offers, its exceptional potential in sectors including — but of course not limited to — manufacturing, tourism, fisheries, mining, logistics and IT.
The minister explained: “But others are also on our investment radar, amongst them renewables and the low carbon economy. Addressing climate change is a major element of Oman Vision 2040 and with Oman’s National Energy Strategy, we have embarked on a number of renewable energy projects with the goal of generating 30 percent of our electricity from renewables by 2030.”
Qais Al Yousef added: “We also know that when investors look at Oman’s potential they consider our economy, connectivity, infrastructure, access to markets, talent pool and lifestyle offer. But experience has shown us that the deciding factor in investment decisions is how agile and business friendly we are, how we turn investor aspirations into reality. So our agility in responding to the new demands of a post COVID-19 world, removing layers of bureaucracy, for example, will be critical to our continuing and future success.
“And I am pleased to report the new policies that have been put in place are beginning to pay dividends,” he added.
Helping facilitate this investment is Invest Easy, the government’s one-stop-shop portal for registering new businesses – an online service managed by the Ministry of Commerce, Industry & Investment Promotion that reduces procedures as well as time to complete investor transactions.
“This is representative of the progress Oman is making in digitisng public services and improving the ease of doing business,” explained the minister.
“Today, via Invest Easy, investors can obtain licenses from 10 leading authorities and approval for more than 1,500 economic activities. That is approximately 88 percent of all economic activities – in one single e-transaction.”
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