Al Buraimi turning into SME hub for Oman

Energy Tuesday 29/January/2019 22:08 PM
By: Times News Service
Al Buraimi turning into SME hub for Oman

Muscat: In line with the government’s vision of launching one’s own start-up rather than banking on the public sector for jobs, Al Buraimi has come up with the highest number of SMEs per 1,000 people.
Oman’s SME hub for 2018, Al Buraimi, has struck a balance between Omanis and expats, and currently has the highest number of SMEs per capita in Oman at 1.67 businesses per 1,000 people.
The governorate is followed by Muscat at 1.37 and North Al Sharqiya at 1.25 businesses per 1,000 people, while Musandam has 0.55 and Dhofar has 0.83 businesses per 1,000 people.
Mohammed Hamdan Al Shamsi, Vice Chair of the SME committee at the Oman Chamber of Commerce in Al Buraimi, said to Times of Oman, “Expat labour and other expenses play an important role. We hope to raise the number of companies to thousands in the future, which can happen if it becomes easier for innovative companies to set up shop in Al Buraimi, especially facilitating the hiring of expats.”
“We have already filed requests with the proper authorities for more incentives for business owners, who want to hire expats to start with and then hire more Omanis as they grow. Times are currently tough, and companies in Al Buraimi have a chance to compete at the border.”
According to the National Centre for Statistics and Information, Al Buraimi has “191 SMEs registered until November 2019” for “114,296 people living in the governorate”, meaning that there were 1.67 businesses in the governorate.
These companies include garages, metal workshops, and small start-ups by young Omanis, who all work alongside their expat employees. Caffeine Cup co-founder Khamis Al Balushi said to Times of Oman, “I work hand-in-hand with three expat employees, and we have one young Omani barista as well. Working with expats adds to the joy of the work and we have a family atmosphere. This started as a passion of mine six years ago and I’m glad to see it become a successful business.”
Another entrepreneur in Buraimi is Mohammed Al Badi, who used to work as a mechanical engineer and then transitioned to opening a garage with a programming shop, employing four expats and two Omanis.
Mohammed Al Badi said, “There is no shame in mechanical work for Omanis. I see no problem in being your own boss and, even if he sells meat skewers, I look at that Omani with respect. I’d like to have more Omanis at my business but some find the work too hard.”
Mohammed Abdullah Al Dhahri, who is 27 years old, started a burger restaurant when he was 25. He said, “When I started, I did two months of cooking and loved it, then two months of taking orders, and another two months as a cashier. After that, our income grew, which enabled me to hire multiple expat employees and one Omani. This business took a year and a half of me going to restaurants, trying out food, and then studying the market before I opened the shop.”
Badr Al Azzani, who works with Al Balushi at Caffeine Cup, said, “Khamis has always loved coffee and even participates in a worldwide group of baristas who share their experiences with one another.We took his hobby and turned it into a business by designing a cosy coffee shop.”
All four business owners stressed the importance of having a powerful drive, as well as planning the business carefully. “Also, do not listen to people who look at your passion negatively,” Al Azzani added. “We followed through and now hope to open another branch in Muscat.”