Muscat: Promotions and sales of Omani products abroad have been a success, retailers and government agencies said.
On the occasion of Oman Industry Day, the Times of Oman (TOO) investigated whether the promotion of Oman-made products, which is one of the initiatives the Sultanate has adopted to raise non-oil exports, have been a success.
Hamood Al Balushi, director of Omani Products’ Department at the Public Establishment for Industrial Estates (PEIE) told TOO that their promotional campaign “Origin Oman” has been a success.
“Seeing the high presence of Omani products on the shelves of high profile commercial centres in Oman has been a success. Omani products today are among the first choice of consumers in the country. This, itself, is a success,” he said.
The “Origin Oman” campaign aims to promote local industries by encouraging consumers, as well as businesses and government entities, to purchase Omani products, Al Balushi explained.
This has been done by promoting the high quality of products through the media and through an outreach to government entities and private companies. Also, “Origin Oman” assists local companies that want to sell their products in improving their marketing methods, Al Balushi added.
Commenting on the question as to what makes Omani products unique, Al Balushi said Omani products enjoy an excellent reputation due to their high quality.
Nasima Al Balushi, director general of Export Development at Ithraa also stressed on the quality of Omani produce.
“Omani products are of high quality and comply with international standards, which make them highly competitive,” Nasima Al Balushi told TOO.
The unique feature of Omani products, and specifically Omani craft products, are their iconic designs, which have remained unchanged over the decades, said Muna Ritchie, partner of the Omani Heritage Gallery, which sells traditional handmade Omani products. This ranges from patterns in camel trappings to Sharqiya Sands and the shape of incense burners from Dhofar.
The most popular products in her shops include silver jewellery, copper bowls, pottery incense burners and frankincense, she pointed out.
“This shows how much in demand these quality handmade Omani products are,” Ritchie stated, adding that the Gallery “has seen a slow, but steady increase in all areas, including sales.”
As a not-for-profit organisation, however, sales are not the only thing that matter, she added.
“For the Gallery, our success is not only monetary, but showcasing beautiful Omani products to the world and ensuring that the traditional handicraft industry endures for the next generations. We have witnessed the continuation of some crafts and success stories from the producers themselves,” Ritchie said.
The challenge is to ensure that prices remain relatively competitive, while making sure the crafts people have sustainable incomes, she added.
An official from Raydan Perfumes, who preferred not to be named, said their company has seen great success since it was set up in 2008.
“Our perfumes and toiletries are unique as they are made of Omani frankincense. This makes more and more consumers choose our products, as well as many government agencies and businesses that buy our products as gifts. We have seen our sales triple in the last eight years,” he said.
TOO had earlier reported that a number of supermarkets have held promotional campaigns for Omani products.
An official from Lulu Hypermarkets, who declined to be named, said that from their perspective, the promotion of Omani products has been a success.
“From the response we get from our customers and looking at the sales figures we have analysed, I can say that the promotion of Omani products has been a success,” he said. Official export figures though, seem to present a different picture.
According to the National Centre for Statistics and Information (NCSI), non-oil exports of Omani origin decreased from OMR2.06 billion in 2014 to an estimated OMR1.92 billion in 2015. The main countries where Oman exported its non-oil merchandise were the United Arab Emirates, Saudi Arabia, India, China and the United States.
According to information provided by Ithraa, among the top products Oman exports are aluminium products, plastic products, marble and ceramics, chemicals, dairy products and fish.
Nasima Al Balushi of Ithraa said that despite a decrease in non-oil exports, Oman still has a positive trade balance.
The NCSI recorded a surplus of OMR9.2 billion in the trade balance in 2014.
“This encourages us to continue with our efforts,” Nasima Al Balushi said.