Muscat: With a huge rise in industrial activity in the Sultanate last year, Oman’s post-oil future seems to be on a secure path.
Data from the National Centre for Statistics and Information (NCSI) showed that Omani industries posted a huge growth, amounting to double digit last year, while the Omani economic zones of Duqm and Sohar reported massive investments fuelled by foreign investors.
Foreign investments in Oman hit OMR8 billion in the first three quarters of last year and the GDP rose by 10.1 per cent during the same period. The Special Economic Zone of Duqm (SEZAD), which is tipped to be Oman’s industrial estate of the future, alone, recorded an investment of OMR610 million, with more pledged by countries around the world.
Last year also saw the foundation-stone laying ceremony of the $90 million Karwa Motors facility, a joint venture between Omani and Qatari firms to set up a bus-making factory in Duqm.
“With a lot of marketing and good publicity, Oman has now increasingly started to appear on the radar of the global industrial sector, and is now on the map of nearly all global industrial activities. It offers a much more favourable location and options for such activities in most emerging markets,” Fabio Scacciavillani, Chief Economist at Oman Investment Fund, said.
“Last year, activities in the industrial sector were very good, but there is more that Oman needs to do to continue or even accelerate this growth. I believe the infrastructure, especially in the free zones, is just perfect and it would rank among the highest among peers, in those terms, but education must be next. This would help Oman develop more by having the right talent. Trade policies with other countries must be worked out to improve and encourage the industry,” he remarked.
The one-stop shop in Sezad received 256 investment applications, of which 141 were for investments in the construction of commercial residential buildings, 93 in the industrial sector, 14 in the tourism sector, seven in the logistics sector, and one in the residential sector. The tourism projects attracted by Duqm zone came first in terms of cost, with OMR301 million, while industrial investments came second with OMR298.1 million.
Statistics from NCSI showed that industrial projects in the Sultanate acquired 56.7 per cent of natural gas by the end of 2017, which was 23.227 billion cubic metres, signalling an increase of industrial activity in Oman.
The total use of Oman’s industrial zones, including for Oman Mining Company, Oman Cement, and Sultan Qaboos Natural Gas University, increased by 1.3 per cent at the end of 2017, to reach 659 million cubic metres from 650 million cubic metres by the end of 2016.
The Sino-Oman industrial park, which has attracted an investment of more than $3.2 billion, comprises 10 projects: a building materials market, a methanol production project for the olefin project, an electricity production plant, a desalination and bromine plant, a solar panels and equipment factory, oil and gas fields, a plant for the production of non-metallic composite pipes used in oil fields, a factory for producing steel pipes, wire and steel reinforced PE type and spare parts, a factory to produce high-mobility SUVs, in addition to a five-star hotel in the tourist area in Duqm.
“Free zones are a great idea to help the industrial areas in the country. They take advantage of the economies of scale in terms of infrastructure of fuel and utility supply. They will remain away from the congestion of the major capital city and also have a great networking effect with all industries located in one place,” Scacciavillani said.