The Business Year

Ibtisam Al Farooji

OMAN - Industry

Ibtisam Al Farooji

Director General, Investor Services, Madayn

Bio

Ibtisam Al Farooji holds a master’s in marketing from Leicester University along with 17 years of experience in marketing and customer care. She started her career in PEIE’s marketing department for seven years, including the Omani Product campaign. She is currently the Director General of Investor Services at Madayn and is responsible of managing and supervising the Masar service centers in all the industrial cities.

Expanding the number of industrial cities across Oman is one of the ways in which Madayn contributes to overall sustainability and social development.

In the last few years, Madayn has focused on sustainability and social development. What are the next steps for Madayn in this area?

Over the years, Madayn has established and operated eight industrial cities and attracted investments worth OMR6.8 billion, and it is currently working to launch another two industrial cities in Ibri and Khasbah, both of which are strategically located to attract investment in different sectors, ranging from industrial and logistics to commercial. Additionally, in order to enhance the partnership between the various stakeholders in this area, Madayn is collaborating with Petroleum Development Oman to establish an industrial city in Marmul aimed to attract oil and gas-related investments. All these efforts, which target to enlarge the industrial cities in different locations in the Sultanate, contribute significantly to the prosperity of those regions by creating job opportunities, attracting investments in the field of support services, and expanding the pool of potential consumers for many products.

Some of Madayn’s goals include the generation of job opportunities and the attraction of foreign investment in Oman’s private sector. What is the strategy that you are following for this purpose?

Madayn has so far created nearly 59,000 jobs, 35% of which were taken by Omanis. However, the industrial sector can absorb a much larger number of skilled Omanis with some harmonization efforts between the various stakeholders, Madayn, the Ministry of Labor, and the Ministry of Higher Education. Madayn has signed an agreement with the Ministry of Labor to provide its services to the investors directly through Masar service centers that are exists in all industrial cities. The agreement will allow Madayn to evaluate new projects and expansion projects in terms of the jobs and skills required as well, presenting a complete employment plan for the project, which will be a long-term reference for both the Ministry of Labor and Higher Education. This agreement has been designed based on the principle that the jobs generated by these projects should be allocated to the local labor market. Also, in the event that the required skills are not available in the local market, coordination will be made between the Ministry of Labor and the Ministry of Higher Education to work on providing specialized training programs. The upside of this agreement is that all stakeholders, including investors, are clear about it from the first phase. In addition, it provides greater flexibility for them in terms of accessing the Omanization rates imposed based on the project data, which should in return achieve transparency in communicating with investors, which is reflected in attracting more investments.

Madayn aims to achieve an enhanced government role through firming up partnership with the private sector. How do you characterize the potential of enterprises when selecting which to partner with?

One of the most important pillars of Madayn’s 2040 vision is to emphasis on the partnership with the private sector to operate, develop the industrial cities, and in line with the mission of Madayn’s to equip those cities with international standard, the panels and criteria for selecting these companies were one of the first things that Madayn set out to define for such partnerships. The first significant criteria is the company’s experience in the same field by a clear track record for the company as well as the results achieved from them in the management of the same project. Second, we look at the project financing mechanism and if the partner is able to finance the project according to the project’s economic feasibility study. Projects are usually funded differently according to their nature. Third, we look at the financial capacity of the company its financial statements. The company may be doing well in one area but might have problems in another project or another country. Finally, we look at the project-based team and ensure that the company has the same team or at least an important part of them because they have experience in the field.

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