The Business Year

Eight of the country's most significant growth architects today.

Talal Al Rahbi

Deputy Secretary General, Supreme Council for Planning

With over 3,000km of coastline on four different bodies of water—the Arabian Gulf, the Sea of Oman, the Indian Ocean, and the Arabian Sea—Oman’s fish reserves are among the largest in the world. Moreover, the government continues to invest significantly in the fisheries sector and is keen to encourage private sector participation. Over 90 initiatives and projects were identified for the sector as a result of Tanfeedh Phase II labs, which cover catch, aquaculture, processing, and exports. The investment value of these projects will amount to OMR1 billion, which will triple the sector’s contribution to GDP by 2023. Moreover, these initiatives and projects will create around 8,000 job opportunities for nationals by the end of that year. Private investment of total investment will amount to 93%, and the public sector will boost investment in the required infrastructure by 7%. To accelerate investment patterns in the mining sector, meanwhile, over 43 initiatives and projects were identified with a total investment value of OMR813 million.

Abdullah Salim Al-Salmi

Executive President, Capital Market Authority (CMA)

The easing of lending requirements is likely to have a positive impact on banking business by enabling a disbursement of credit to new borrowers. However, we should also be mindful of the fact that easing lending requirements must not lead to an increase in delinquency rate and adversely impact the sector’s balance sheet. It is necessary to be prudent and maintain an optimal balance while easing lending requirements so that potential borrowers can access capital without jeopardizing the sector’s assets. As for inter-company lending, we understand the financial constraints faced by companies due to the business cycle issues, which is why the Central Bank of Oman has undertaken certain policy steps to ease lending conditions for such borrowers. The extant guidelines on restructuring credit facilities were reviewed in order to provide a helping hand to lenders as well as distressed borrowers, while ensuring the long-term interest of financial stability. The specific provision of 15% on restructured loans, mandated effective from the year 2015, was phased in with 5% for 2016, 10% by 2017, and 15% by 2018.

Dr. Hamad Salim Al Rawahi

CEO, Dr. Hamad Salim Al Rawahi

CMA’s work involves both developing regulations and rules as well as assessing the sectors under our jurisdiction to promote development. In the developed world, regulators are regulators, whereas here regulators also help sectors to develop. As such, we work with the insurance industry and capital markets to spur their growth, and we work to inform the public about how to best invest and participate in the economy’s success. Confidence is an essential element in a market when investors seek to invest. This means confidence not only in the system that runs the market, but also in the companies listed on the market. To this end, we introduced corporate governance; in fact, we were the first country in the GCC to do so in 2002. Since then we have been educating companies on how to develop proper corporate governance, and recently started working on a new corporate governance code. In 2015, we established the Oman Center for Corporate Governance and Sustainability, which looks after the development and enhancement of corporate governance and educates the public and corporations.

Dr. Ahmed Mohammed Al-Saidi

Minister, Health

The primary outcome of awarding a third operating license is to enhance competition in the mobile market. Consumers are expected to receive a range of benefits like coverage, competitive prices, a higher quality of service, and improved customer services. The license award will also make the existing operators innovate more and reach out to consumers with improved services and price offerings. As for the implementation of access and interconnection regulations, which require wholesale offers to be published through reference access and interconnection offers, it is expected to pave the way for the introduction of small and medium enterprises as internet service providers (ISPs) in the bit stream layer. It will also address the major issue of reaching out to customers in the last mile. TRA is also considering updating its passive infrastructure to streamline investment and promote competition in the services. Meanwhile, Oman Broadband Company (OBC) is mandated to provide fiber access networking in the greater Muscat area since it inherited the fiber access network from the government’s Muscat wastewater initiative.

Ahmed Bin Nasser Al Mahrizi

Minister, Tourism

In the LAST two to three decades, the Sultanate of Oman has witnessed, as have other parts of the world, an epidemiological transition to non-communicable diseases and other morbidity related to unhealthy lifestyles. Most communicable diseases have declined to endemic levels, while non-communicable diseases and other conditions related to changes in lifestyle have been on the rise. For example, in 2017, approximately 40% of inpatients were treated for non-communicable diseases, while communicable diseased-patients represented only 17.2%. Demographic changes in the Omani population are also evident, with a decrease in the proportion of those below 15, and increases in young adults and the elderly, not to mention higher life expectancies at birth. These have all resulted in the predominance of non-communicable diseases, e.g. cardiovascular diseases, diabetes mellitus, cancer, and chronic respiratory and renal diseases. These all require advanced and expensive technologies and medicines for diagnosis and treatment and drain the health system budget. As such, they remain the main causes for concern at least for the near future.

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