MUSCAT– Seeking to build on a stellar year characterised by a flurry of new investments, Salalah Free Zone (SFZ) has pledged to speed up registration procedures to make it possible for new investors to receive initial licences within an hour. SFZ CEO Ali Tabouk said the new procedures part of a series of measures designed to enhance the free zones competitiveness and investment appeal will come into force with effect from January 1, 2020.
He added in a tweet posted on the weekend that a new and innovative work system will go into effect in 2020, which aims to make it less hassling, costly and time-consuming for investors when they register to invest in the Sultanate. As a result, investors will be able to start construction work on their factories and projects within 6 to 8 months of the registration, he noted.
The move comes as Salalah Free Zone a subsidiary of Asyad Group (the nations transport and logistics flagship) wraps up a bumper year that saw new investments totaling over $3 billion in project commitments during 2019. The biggest of these is a grassroots refinery project, a sub-usufruct agreement for which was signed in July. Salalah Refinery SFZ, promoted by a group of local and international firms, plans to invest around $2.5 billion in the development of a 150,000 barrels per day plant.
In September, Saudi Arabias National Steel Company announced a deal for the establishment of a major steel manufacturing and fabrication complex at Salalah Free Zone with an investment of around $500 million. Construction work on the project, boasting a capacity of 150,000 tonnes per annum, is expected to commence in Q1 2020.
Earlier, Deepak Oman Industries a partnership of Omani and Indian businesses laid the foundation stone for its $120 million integrated chemical complex in the free zone. The plant will produce around 225,000 tons per annum of chemicals, including calcium chloride and sodium nitrate, utilising locally available raw materials such as ammonia and limestone.
Similarly, India based Petiva Group signed a deal to build a plant specialising in the manufacture of natural calorie-free, non-genetically modified sugar. The facility, estimated to cost around $200 million, will be the first of its kind in the Middle East.
More recently, India based SV Pittie Group, which already has a major yarn-manufacturing mill operating in Sohar Free Zone, inked an agreement to set up a textile facility in Salalah Free Zone with an investment of $100 million.
Contracts have also been signed for the development of a food processing plant, wholesale logistics city, trade and services complex, a global centre for assistive medicine training, and manufacturing facilities for solar panels and gypsum products. Around 70 projects, worth over $5 billion in investments, are in various stages of planning, development and operation in the free zone.
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