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Pankaj Kanaksi Khimji

OMAN - Industry

Pankaj Kanaksi Khimji

Advisor for Foreign Trade and International Co-operation, Ministry of Commerce, Industry & Investment Promotion

Bio

A construction engineer from the UK, Pankaj Kanaksi Khimji is a director at Khimji Ramdas, one of the biggest business conglomerates in the Sultanate. He is co-chairman of the Oman-India Joint Business Council and a board member of the Omani-British Friendship Association (OBFA). He has been an active member of the World Economic Forum and a recipient of the Global Leader of Tomorrow (GLT) award. Khimji has also been a regular member of the Ministry of Manpower’s delegation to the annual ILO conference in Geneva. He has been involved in the Oman Business Forum and is a board member of Sharakah. He also devotes time as the chairman of the Oman Cricket Board and is a vice president of the Asian Cricket Council.

"There is an exciting vibrancy to Oman’s investment environment, a different energy."
The Ministry of Commerce, Industry & Investment Promotion has worked hard to provide investors with a transparent, predictable, and efficient regulatory and administrative framework.
Could you give us an overview of Oman’s investment environment this year?

There is an exciting vibrancy to Oman’s investment environment, a different energy. At least that is how we all feel since His Majesty Sultan Haitham bin Tarik assumed power in January 2020. This comes from a new and renewed renaissance, after our first renaissance in 1970. We like to call this Renaissance 2.0. Central to Renaissance 2.0 is the understanding that Oman can no longer rely solely on its traditional comparative advantages, if we are to realize our full economic potential. Driven by this, we are reimagining our approach to economic growth by capitalizing on the opportunities offered by sectors such as mining, logistics, agriculture and fisheries, tourism, manufacturing, food security, energy and renewables. We recognize that sustainable, productive foreign investment in these sectors and others can play a catalytic role in strengthening our development objectives from export growth, technology and skills transfer, to employment generation and higher pay. And to support this we are re-engineering our approach to business by streamlining procedures and creating a more innovative, pro-enterprise environment with the launch of Oman Vision 2040—our blueprint for sustainable development.

Can you outline some of the enhancements that have been made to create the pro-enterprise environment you mention?

Providing investors with a transparent, predictable, and efficient regulatory and administrative framework that meets their needs and contributes to Oman’s economic diversification is a top priority for the Ministry of Commerce, Industry & Investment Promotion. Typical of our reimagined approach to business is Oman’s National Program for Investment & Export Development, known locally as Nezdaher. Since March 2021, Nezdaher has been supporting international and domestic prospects establish, roll out and expand their commercial footprint. A fully-fledged Invest in Oman Centre will complement the work of Nezdaher—this is scheduled to be launched by the Ministry of Commerce, Industry & Investment Promotion in 2022. Fast-tracking projects, the center will be a one-stop shop that will facilitate connections with all the resources and tools needed to make investment decisions; and provide specialist advisory services on legislation and tax regulations, labor issues, permit procedures and government incentives. These two initiatives and others like them will accelerate the new era of inward investment and domestic growth that is Renaissance 2.0. Another example of how we are creating a more enterprise-friendly environment is Invest Easy, the government’s portal for registering new businesses. Via Invest Easy, investors can obtain licenses from 18 leading authorities and approval for more than 1,500 economic activities in one single e-transaction. Since the launch of the new licensing service in April 2021, over 286,000 licenses have been issued—38,000 of them to international investors. That is a YoY rise of nearly 30%.

What are Oman’s most exciting prospects for investors right now?

Michael Liebreich, founder of BloombergNEF, referred to Oman as one of the world’s “future renewable superpowers.” For any industry to thrive, strong infrastructure is necessary, especially in its earlier stages of growth. To this end, His Majesty’s government has developed an eco-system of initiatives to ensure renewable energy projects in our nation enjoy every possible success. Hydrogen Oman—a new national energy company set up in June—has been mandated to orchestrate and master-plan Oman’s green hydrogen sector. Then, there is Hy-Fly—a national alliance of 13 major public and private institutions created in August 2022 to facilitate the local production, transportation, utilization and export of green hydrogen. It would also be remiss not to highlight Oman’s 25 years of success in public-private partnerships (PPPs) in the utilities sector and the support provided by the Tawazun Offset Program, which promotes and supports capacity building for green investment opportunities in a range of sectors.

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