Having already secured tenants for a sizable part of Phase 1 of its sprawling development, Sohar Freezone has opened up a new phase for investment, this time with an eye on businesses that will capitalise on an array of mega projects operating at the adjoining industrial port, according to a report by Oman Observer.
Sohar Port currently hosts large-scale chemical, petrochemical, refining and metal industries, in addition to a nascent agro-foods cluster, that collectively open up wide opportunities for investment in downstream processing and value-added activities within the nearby free zone.
Phase 1 of the free zone development has so far attracted a total of 44 investments across smelting, manufacturing, warehousing and logistics, cold storage, and office solutions. By the end of 2020, as much as 63 per cent of Phase 1’s five million sq m development had already been leased to tenants, according to Duqm Economist, the quarterly newsletter of the Public Authority for Special Economic Zones and Free Zones (OPAZ).
Phase 2, which has since been launched, offers a further 5 million sq m for development. The primary focus for investment, however, will be activities pertaining to plastics and food processing, iron and steel, mineral processing, vehicle parts manufacturing, and renewable energy projects, the report said.
Significantly, Sohar Freezone has already been tipped to host an ambitious-scale Solar Energy Project potentially for the generation of clean energy as an alternative to gas-based electricity that currently fuels heavy industries in the port.
An added objective is the production of ‘green hydrogen’ from surplus solar power capacity for local industrial application and potential for export in the future as well.
Last November, OPAZ announced that it was coordinating with government bodies the allocation of a dedicated cluster within the free zone for solar energy-related investments. The ultimate goal, it noted, was to secure a place for the Sultanate in the global green hydrogen production ecosystem.
Buoying hopes for healthy investment inflows into the free zone is a One-Stop-Shop (OSS) that serves as a single window for investors seeking permits and approvals to operate in any of the country’s network of SEZs and free zone developments.
Royal Decree 105/2020 grants OPAZ the mandate to issue licenses, approvals and permits with minimum delay or bureaucratic red tape and thereby enhance the appeal of Oman’s business and investment environment.
Separately, a secure bonded corridor was established at Sohar Freezone last year, enabling tenants to clear customs and move their containerised cargo speedily from the port – a move that contributes to enhanced operational efficiency, particularly with regard to the clearance of perishable goods, the report added.--TradeArabia News Service
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