CEO, Oman National Engineering and Investment Company
As far as engineering is concerned, we have four branches: EPC projects, operation and maintenance, oil and gas, and civil work. At this stage, we are catering for our own business in civil engineering. In operations and maintenance, we are involved in maintaining power plants, hospitals, prestigious Royal properties, and several other small projects. We currently have around 20 ongoing engineering projects. We are also maintaining and operating water distribution network systems in the Musandam, Muscat, and Sharqiya regions. ONEIC is implementing a very prestigious scale project for MEDC. In oil and gas, high levels of competition have led us to team up with foreign companies. We are planning to be more active in this area in 2013 and 2014. We are engaged with a few EPC contracts for the construction of power stations, overhead lines, substations, and water distribution networks. We are registered for infrastructure and, in the future, shall be engaged in the construction of roads and dams. EPC contracts are challenging because there is heavy competition and the margins are thin. Any miscalculation could lead to negative figures. However, we need these kinds of reference projects for future activities.
In the last six years, the level of competition has increased four or five fold. In 2006 and 2007, for example, we tendered with seven companies; however, now it would be with more like 40-50 companies. This level of competition is challenging, but with our local strength we are able to maintain a good backlog of work. Globally, contractors are coming to Oman because it has very stable and progressive development. The downturns in the UAE, Spain, and Italy mean that contractors from those countries are now looking to Oman. Competition is extremely high, meaning jobs are taken at a very low profit margin. You need to be very efficient with excellent engineering, equipment, and maintenance, as well as competitive working hours. We work double shifts to keep costs down and productivity up. As a local company, we have thousands of Omanis working with us, which contributes to in-country value. In-country value is an increasingly more important requirement in Oman.
CEO, Hamed Hashim Al Dhahab
The government is promoting two excellent and necessary initiatives: support for SMEs and Omanization. One of our central targets as a national company is to help make Oman an attractive environment for investment. The minimum wage has been raised to OMR325 per month, which we, as the private sector, feel is very good for the individuals benefitting, but also for society as a whole. The government is obliging companies to support SMEs by tendering out certain jobs and contracts. This is very necessary and beneficial, because even if one company could do all the work, it is unlikely to be done to such a high standard. We will grow together. We also support the government initiative of Omanization, because we believe that Omanis have the right to good jobs and good salaries, and we should make an environment that attracts high-quality candidates. Omanis shall be given good support, salaries, and respect. However, for this to work, young Omanis must be trained sufficiently to add value to the company. We are not subsidizing society or patronizing the youth. The most important thing is that all companies in Oman shoulder their responsibility to create a level playing field, and that the government, when awarding contracts, takes into account the efforts made by domestic companies to promote Omanization against those of international firms.