Muscat: Indian industrial ventures in Oman will be a focused area for funding by the Islamic banking window of Bank Muscat, Meethaq, officials at the Oman-India Business Connect Forum at the Bank Muscat head office, said yesterday.
Highlighting Meethaq-financed multimillion dollar Indian Omani joint ventures, such as MISCO and Sebacic Oman, Hesham Al Nabham, senior relationship manager at Meethaq said the “Indian market was the main target.”
“We are focusing on the three free zones we have in Oman for Indian investors as they offer some great opportunities and financial incentives to begin industrial activities,” he said.
Meethaq has grown at a yearly rate of nearly 25 per cent since its inception five years ago, reaching assets of $1 billion from an initial $1 million. The window currently has 39 per cent market share in deposits and 30 per cent in financing.
“We are very ambitious and will be the engine for Islamic banking growth in the country. We want to support all kinds of projects that will support the Omani economy. I personally like manufacturing and industrial projects as they are value added investments, such as Sebacic Oman and Al Ha’el Ceramic in Sur, both of which plan to bring raw materials from Oman, thereby driving growth. They create jobs, bring in FDI and develop technological knowhow, which improves every year they are in the business,” Sulaiman Al Harthy, deputy chief executive officer, Meethaq, said.
The forum was also attended by Ahmed Al Dheeb, under-secretary for Commerce and Industry at the Ministry of Commerce and Industry, Indra Mani Pandey, Indian ambassador to the Sultanate, prominent Indian investors, and senior officials of ports, special economic zones, industrial estates and Meethaq Islamic Banking.
Pradeep Nair, CEO, Sebacic Oman also highlighted Oman as an important country due to its neutral stance, diversity and tolerance.
The forum spotlighted investment opportunities for Indian investors in Oman, as well as new possibilities and collaborations in Islamic banking and finance, vis-à-vis the investment opportunities in Oman.
Under-Secretary Al Dheeb said: “The Sultanate’s maritime ports, special economic zones and industrial estates play a big role in the integrated economic development plan comprising industrial hubs for heavy, medium and light industries and modern cities. The objective is to achieve the Sultanate’s vision of a truly sustainable development plan with unique amenities, business and tourism attractions to serve the nation, the region and the world. The aim is to develop Oman as one of the best locations to visit, live, work and invest in the Middle East. The pursuit of this objective offers attractive investment opportunities and we are delighted to showcase them to Indian investors. We appreciate Meethaq for taking the initiative to highlight the investment opportunities in Oman.”
Ambassador Pandey said: “India and Oman enjoy excellent relations in all domains. Business is the DNA of Oman-India relations stemming from the geographical proximity of the two friendly countries, familiarity with each other and co-existence of communities in Oman, all of which point to promising future opportunities. We commend the Meethaq Islamic Banking initiative for forging closer ties between Oman and India.”
Experts addressed the forum and participated in a panel discussion highlighting strategic projects currently under way in Sohar, Salalah and Duqm, including special economic zones, industrial estates and world class maritime ports. The deliberations showcasing investment opportunities covered policy issues, investment framework, tax benefits and business opportunities, highlighting the significance of Oman at the regional and world levels.
Within four years of operations, Meethaq has crossed a milestone of over OMR1 billion in assets and consolidated its leadership position, recording many achievements contributing to the growth and development of the Sultanate’s economy. Notable project finance extended by Meethaq to projects in Oman involving Indian investors includes Moon Iron and Steel Company in Sohar, Sebacic Oman setting up one of the world’s largest plants for Sebacic Acid in Duqm, the Drug Manufacturing Company (DMC) setting up a state-of-the-art manufacturing unit in the Sohar Industrial Area and the Dar Al Tomouh company setting up the Sultanate’s first commercial contract chicken farming project in the wilayat of Nizwa.
In 2016, bilateral trade between Oman and India stood at $3.89 billion. Indian and Omani firms have undertaken joint ventures in a wide range of sectors, including fertilisers, pharmaceuticals, energy and engineering.