Bonanza for companies, investors in Oman's free zones

Energy Tuesday 30/June/2020 18:01 PM
By: Times News Service
Bonanza for companies, investors in Oman's free zones

Muscat: To attract investors, the Sultanate’s Free Zones will offer 100 per cent foreign ownership and corporate tax holiday of up to 25 years. In addition, they will also benefit from zero per cent personal income tax, high-quality office space for rent at reasonable prices and cold warehouses to serve varied industries.

With world class and advanced infrastructure, the Sultanate’s free zones offer investment incentives, tax exemptions and simplified procedures for licences and permits supporting the free zones` competitive business environment.

In line with the Sultanate Logistics Strategy and Oman 2040 Vision to attract local and foreign investments and to develop an integrated logistics system allowing local products to reach international markets, ASYAD Group is working, in cooperation with the relevant government entities, towards improving the competitive advantage of the Sultanate’s free zones.

The Middle East’s comprehensive logistics provider, ASYAD, said that the number of investment projects at Sohar Free Zone and Salalah Free Zone reached 120 by the end of 2019 in various industrial and logistic activities with an estimated value of OMR3.7 billion.

Omar Al Meherzi, Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of Sohar Free Zone said, "Today, Sohar Free Zone is a home to 44 industrial projects in various sectors such as metals, petrochemicals, food industries, etc. It witnesses an increase in the number of companies occupying the warehouses and offices that is part of the package of innovative solutions offered to the investors."

"The occupancy of the total leasable areas of the three development phases has reached 301.4 hectares by the end of 2019, with 63% occupancy of the areas in the first phase," Al Meherzi added.

The CEO of Sohar Free Zone also said that the focus of Sohar Free Zone is on integrated downstream projects that offer business opportunities and grow in-country-value (ICV), such as attracting industries that depend on the polyethylene product, which will be produced in Liwa Plastics Industries Complex (LPIC).

He affirmed that Sohar Free Zone encourages investors to benefit from the integrated logistic system of the Port and the Free Zone. "We also target the manufacturers who consider their proximity as a key value proposition to reach their consumer markets regionally."

Highlighting on the One-Stop-Shop (OSS) of Sohar Port and Free Zone, al-Meherzi explained that the OSS is a single window for investors to obtain all necessary requirements to set up and operate their businesses efficiently and effectively. The OSS provides multiple key services under a single window that has enhanced resources to deliver high quality services.

Al Meherzi added: “The investors can benefit from the proximity of the free zone to Sohar Port and Sohar Airport that facilitates and ease import and export operations. In addition, Sohar Free Zone has direct land routes with neighbouring countries, such as the United Arab Emirates and soon with the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia. Sohar Free Zone also has direct shipping lines with Asia, Europe and America.

Ali bin Mohammed Tabouk, CEO of Salalah Free Zone (SFZ) said, “Our goal is to position Salalah Free Zone as a leading regional and global logistics and industrial hub. The investment projects in SFZ is a testimony for our efforts to attract foreign investors and our successful relationship with the free zone`s strategic partners”.

Salalah Free Zone achieved exceptional results in 2019 that included signing of 24 usufruct agreements that worth OMR1.4 billion.
Tabouk indicated that the free zone will provide job opportunities for citizens. He added that the percentage of Omanisation has reached 36 per cent in the companies operating at SFZ.

Ali Tabouk highlighted that Salalah Free Zone plans to develop Salalah Free Zone Food Processing Plant that will provide commercial warehouses, logistic services and storage facilities for the food and beverage industries, in addition to a 20,000 square metres trading and services complex that will include offices and service facilities for businessmen in an integrated business environment. An international allied medicine training centre will also be founded in an area of 96,000 square metres to provide training programmes for various specialties of allied medicine including, but not limited to, radiology, laboratories, occupational and physical therapy. This comes within the framework of developing the national skills and capabilities in the medical specialisations.

Tabouk also talked about the free zone's initiative to ease doing business at Salalah Free Zone including registration, granting of licenses and signing of usufruct agreements within one to three hours.

In line with SFZ policy to ensure the highest international standards for business excellence and raise the level of competitiveness to attract investments to the Sultanate, SFZ has successfully achieved the ISO quality certification. Furthermore, to develop national capabilities, a "Competency" programme has been launched that aims to enhance the skills of managers/ leaders at SFZ, Tabouk added.