On a separate issue, more than one third (35%) of those interviewed described Oman’s efforts to improve the ease of doing business as good, suggesting that the Royal Decrees issued in July approving new laws on foreign capital investment, privatisation, bankruptcy and public-private partnerships will be welcomed by the broader business community.
In a sign that business leaders are struggling with the extension of a ban on recruiting foreigners for key roles, 59% of those surveyed cited reforms to labour laws as the legislative changes they felt would be most effective in promoting economic growth. Leadership (35%) and engineering (22%) ranked first and second respectively as the skills executives thought were most needed to support growth, in another indication of the challenges recruiters face stemming from the sultanate’s Omanisation quota and a longstanding preference among locals for working in the public sector.
Regional political volatility remains the top external event that interviewees believe could impact the local economy in the short to medium term beyond the movements in commodity prices, chosen by 64% of interviewees, although there were also signs of the growing impact that China is having on the local economy. Demand in growth from the Asian giant was the response given by 12% of executives to this question, ahead of protectionism in trade (10%).
Commenting in his blog, Billy FitzHerbert, OBG’s Regional Editor for the Middle East, said that while Oman, and the region as a whole, was still recovering from the crash in oil prices five years ago, there were several bright spots to draw on.
“The imposition of fiscal reforms in the shape of the so-called sin tax that came into effect in June and the value-added tax, which is now likely to be implemented in 2020, bode well for government efforts to broaden revenue streams, and feed into the government’s wider goals of economic sustainability and a reduced reliance on hydrocarbons revenues,” he noted.
FitzHerbert said executives’ recognition of China’s growing role in Oman’s development reflected broader economic activity, most notably the investments being made by the Asian powerhouse under its Belt and Road Initiative.
Turning to business leaders’ evident frustration at some of the country’s labour laws, he acknowledged that the challenge presented both economic and social considerations. “The authorities are well aware of the need to better align public sector compensation with that of the private sector if this tendency is to be successfully curbed,” he said.
FitzHerbert’s in-depth evaluation of the survey’s results can be found on OBG’s Editor’s Blog,
titled ‘Next Frontier’. All four of OBG’s regional managing editors use the platform to share their expert analysis of the latest developments taking place across the sectors of the 30+ high-growth markets covered by the company’s research.
The OBG Business Barometer: CEO Surveys features in the Group’s extensive portfolio of research tools. The full results of the survey on Oman will be made available online and in print. Similar studies are also under way in the other markets in which OBG operates.
About OBG Business Barometer
OBG Business Barometer: Oman CEO Survey Copyright (c). All rights reserved.
This survey has been designed to assess business sentiment amongst business leaders (Chief Executives or equivalent) and their outlook for the next 12 months. Unlike many surveys, the OBG Business Barometer is conducted by OBG staff on a face-to-face basis, across the full range of industries, company sizes and functional specialties. The results are anonymous.
OBG Business Barometer is based on data from companies with revenue within the following parameters, among others:
- 77% of companies surveyed were private
- 53% of companies surveyed were local
- 9% of companies surveyed were regional
- 36% of companies surveyed were international
The data generated allows for analysis of sentiment within an individual country, as well as regionally and globally. Additionally, comparisons can be drawn between both individual countries and regionally. The results are presented statistically within infographics and discussed in articles written by OBG Managing Editors.
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About Oxford Business Group
Oxford Business Group (OBG) is a global research and advisory company with a presence in over 30 countries, from the Middle East, Asia and Africa to the Americas. A distinctive and respected provider of on-the-ground intelligence on the world’s fastest growing markets for sound investment opportunities and business decisions.
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