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OMAN - Economy

Yasser Taqi

Partner, Dentons & Co, Oman Branch

Bio

Yasser Taqi is a partner in the energy, transport, and infrastructure practice in Dentons’ Muscat office. He is an England and Wales qualified lawyer who joined Dentons as one of the firm’s first trainees from the Middle East region. Having worked in Dentons’ offices in London, Dubai, and Muscat, he is the first Omani lawyer to be promoted to Partner at Dentons. Taqi has experience working on a wide range of projects across the GCC for public- and private-sector clients. He is ranked in both the top legal directories, chambers, and Legal 500 and also sits as a non-executive director on the board of Outward Bound Oman.

"Over the last few years, the government has taken positive steps to encourage investments, particularly from foreign investors."
The world’s largest law firm, Dentons has built up an experienced cadre of Omani lawyers in its 40-year history in the country, offering both international expertise and local know-how.
Where does Dentons sits within the legal services ecosystem?

Dentons is the largest law firm in the world with more than 20,000 people and 12,000-plus lawyers in 200-plus locations and 80-plus countries around the world. We have been on the ground in Oman for 40 years. With three-quarters of our lawyers being Omani, we are firmly from and within the Omani business and legal communities. Combined with our local and internationally qualified lawyers, our team is uniquely positioned to offer clients international expertise with local know-how. Over the years, we have worked closely with the public and private sector on many first of a kind projects and numerous regulatory reforms. Examples include advising on the restructuring of the government’s oil and gas stake in Block 6 in 2020 and 2021. We also designed and drafted the electricity sector law and advised on every major reform to it, including the electricity spot market, which launched in 2022.

How do you assess the attractiveness of the Omani regulatory framework?

Over the last few years, the government has taken positive steps to encourage investments, particularly from foreign investors. The new foreign capital investment law was issued in 2019 and now allows foreign investors to own 100% of the share capital in companies, subject to very limited exceptions. To complement this, the government also issued a new Commercial Companies Law that abolished minimum capital requirements and introduced a new single proprietor company. Steps such as these have contributed to an increase in foreign capital investments in Oman. The government is also working on introducing new legislation and reform in other areas it considers key for the Omani economy including green hydrogen and mining. Overall, the right steps have been taken to make the regulatory framework more attractive for foreign investors; however, there is still more work to be done in order to compete with other jurisdictions. On a practical level for example, foreign investors continue to face difficulties with recruitment process, particularly with obtaining labor clearances for expat workers needed to establish their business in-country. We often hear that a lack of transparency and consistency in areas such as those continue to stifle foreign investment.

What are the main concerns of Dentons’ clientele, specifically with international businesses?

Until recently, the government’s credit rating was a concern as it caused difficulties when it came to raising finance for large projects. The government has, under the guidance of HM Sultan Haitham bin Tariq, reduced the public debt significantly over the past few months, which has alleviated these concerns to a large extent; however, foreign investors continue to face difficulties on a day-to-day basis. The way we see it, ministries and other regulators need to be more transparent and consistent when applying the rules governing local and foreign investments. Opportunity, transparency, and consistency attract investors. As an economy, there is some room for improvement in those areas, particularly transparency and consistency. We are aware of the government’s efforts to address these issues. The public sector should aim for even greater involvement of the private sector through encouraging focused dialogue and key stakeholder engagement whether it is when introducing new regulations or reforming existing ones. If we look at the bigger picture, Oman has the ability to be an even more attractive investment destination. Oman has excellent infrastructure, robust regulatory framework and strong manpower resources. There are plenty of positives to build on.

What are your priorities for the coming year?

There is a great deal happening in Oman. We are focused on supporting our partners, whether local or international, public or private, with their projects and businesses by continuing to deliver the high standards that our clients are accustomed to. Equally importantly for us, we want to continue being the place where top Omani talent wants to work and to create the environment for them to be able to thrive.

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