DHL Express Expanding in Oman

Better express delivery service can now be expected as DHL Express, the world’s largest express delivery company, upgrades its fleet of trucks in Oman.

DHL Expanding in Oman

The investment of DHL in 19 new delivery trucks is valued at an estimated RO 175,000 ($455,000) and is expected to greatly increase the efficiency and cost-effectiveness of deliveries throughout the Sultanate.

This new capital investment is designed to demonstrate DHL’s commitment to meeting and even surpassing their customers’ needs and expectations for fast and reliable delivery service in Oman.

“Our business in Oman is continuing to experience growth and as we expand, the continued investment in our vehicles will provide us with the capacity required to meet our customers’ demands,” said Michael Nistor, country manager of DHL Express Oman.

“DHL continues to build on our reputation as a leading and innovative logistics company, which is fully committed to offering our customers the highest standards of service, convenience and quality.”

First Gateway Facility in Oman

Recently DHL Express invested RO85,000 ($221,000) in a new gateway facility in a prime industrial area in Muscat, the capital city of Oman. DHL was the first express company to start a gully-bonded gateway facility in Oman, and now the expanded fleet seals the seriousness of the commitment DHL Express has to its investment in Oman.

The managing director of DHL Express, Middle East, North Africa and Turkey, Gary Kemp, said, “This investment reinforces our commitment to Oman. We continue to strengthen our position as a preferred logistics partner to our customers in Oman. “

“It is our commitment to understand our customers and deliver quality logistics solutions at industry leading transit times,” he added.

Omani Marriage Support Fund To Come Before Sultan for Approval

A final draft of a report recommending the creation of a “Marriage Support Fund” in Oman will go before the Sultan for its final approval.

Council of People’s Representatives

The report was honed by the elected council of people’s representatives. The report has gone through several drafts and was at last given its final form after extensive discussions about the need for and ramifications of such a law.

Majilis Ash’shura

After the final stage of the report’s development, a drafting by the Health and Social Committee of the Majilis Ash’shura, the report is now ready to be examined by His Majesty Sultan Qaboos bin Said before he gives the report his final approval.

Meeting Demands of Protestors

The creation of such a fund in Oman is unprecedented, and its development is a direct result of the demands of reform called for by protesters who shook the Omani political scene earlier this year. The establishment of a governmental fund to support young Omani men in their desire to marry was one of the prime demands of the protesters, who took to the streets in cities throughout the Sultanate, including Muscat, Sohar, Salalah and other areas. Subsequently, practically all of the demonstrators’ demands have been met by the governmental authorities.

The Deputy Head of the Health and Social Committee, Marhoon bin Masud Al Ghaithi, commented on the significant contribution this fund will make to the social, economic and cultural wellbeing of Oman after the adopting of the report by the council.

“When some citizens cannot meet the costs of marriage due to high dowries and financial inability, that has a negative impact on the society,” said Al Ghaithi.  “This directly results in late marriages, and a large chunk of the Omani youths become averse to marriage due to these factors.”

Marriage Fund Issue Studied In-Depth

Al Ghaithi added that the committee had studied the issue in-depth, taking several steps before the final version of the report was completed.

“We looked into existing legislations, laws, bylaws and decisions related to marriage in the Sultanate. We also reviewed a number of studies, researches, data,” he added.

Al Ghaithi also said that there are many other benefits of this fund, and he is satisfied that this fund will be established by Oman with great benefit to the Sultanate.

GCC To Support Yemeni Refugees if Need Arises

The Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) is entering a new stage in its development as it celebrates 30 years since its founding.

GCC Determined to Stay United

The Omani Minister of Foreign Affairs, Yusuf bin Alawi bin Abdullah, released a statement to the press  affirming the unity felt among the governments of the GCC countries in spite of the recent developments in the region which has place stress on the various alliances.

Yusuf bin Alawi bin Abdullah

Bin Abdullah added that the reason for this unity is that the citizens of the Gulf region understand and respect the importance of unity and loyalty to their homelands as well as to their leadership.

Yemen Point of Concern for GCC

The Foreign Affairs minister also expressed his sadness at the unfortunate events which have been transpiring in Yemen over the last two days, calling on the sides involved in the conflict to use wisdom when discussing their disagreements and differences.

Bin Abdullah explained that although the GCC has halted their initiative to help Yemen, they are nevertheless ready to lend aid to the people of Yemen, saying,

“We are ready to help our Yemeni brothers once the circumstances and ground situation on which we can work are appropriate.”

No Refugees So Far

He stated that so far Oman has not seen any large scale traversing of the borders of Yemen as a response to the present crisis there, and he does not expect to see a refugee problem, but if one should arise in the future Oman is ready to help out in whatever ways are needed.

In response to other issues of concern to the GCC Bin Abdullah stated that the issue of Jordan and Morocco joining the GCC is one that will be discussed to see if such a step adheres to the goals that were determined at the Consultative Summit.

Duqm Economic Zone on Cusp of Large Development

Duqm Port

A new economic zone of development is being established in Oman’s northern Al Wusta region. Analysts are predicting that the area will attract between $10 and $15 billion in direct investment over the next ten years.

Boosts GDP and Number of Jobs

Darwish bin Ismail Al Balushi, the minister of financial affairs for the Sultanate, explained that the Economic Zone of Duqm will more than likely contribute between 5% and 8% of the gross domestic product (GDP) in the non-oil sector of the Omani economy by the year 2020. Al Balushi also explained that the growth will add between 15,000 and 20,000 jobs to the economy over the course of the next ten years.

Refinery First

Among the first of the developments in the area is set to be a refinery-cum-petrochemical complex, explained al Balushi at the opening session of an economic forum discussing the various investment opportunities to be had in the port city of the Duqm Economic Zone. The forum, which took place on Tuesday, was organized by the Oman Chamber of Commerce and Industry.

Establish Authority to Oversee Zone

Al Balushi told the gathering that the Omani government is presently making the needed arrangements to create an authority which will be in charge of organizing and managing the zone. The authority will also be able to develop the required legislation and bylaws on investment, including creating the appropriate financial incentives, facilities and land use rules which will be designed to make the Duqm Economic Zone profitable and successful.

Oman Considering First Major Solar Energy Project

All that is needed to get a large solar energy power project started in Oman is approval from the government. If approval is granted this project will be Oman’s first major grid-connected solar power project. The project in question is planned to have the capacity to produce 200 megawatts of power, and approval is expected soon.

Government Delays

There have delays getting approval for the project, mostly due to the recent changes in the cabinet, but the new ministers are carefully examining the various aspects of this venture into the realm of renewable energy. Included are investigations into the financial burden of the project on the government, which was previously considered to be too costly.

Andrew Charles Rackham, the Director of Projects Development for the Oman Power and Water Company addressed the issue of the ministers carefully examining the details of the project.

“I think they are using the time to recommit and understand what the solar project means to Oman. They are committed to doing the project. They need to understand the impact and the financing, before taking a final decision,” said Rackham.

Mr. Rackham was speaking at the pre-summit focus conference as the Oman Power and Water Company’s representative. The conference is being organized by the Global Exhibitions & Conferences (GEC) in partnership with IQPC Middle East.

Significant Price Drop

When the OPWPC first looked into investing in this project, the cost was prohibitive. Eight months ago it was estimated that at the prevailing cost for photovoltaic (PV) power was about $5,000 per kilowatt, making the final power plant cost to be about $1 billion.

In the past months, however, the price has been dropping, as Rackham explained.

“But we are already seeing the price of PV dropping and probably, will drop through the $3,000 floor, down to $2,000. Then, you are looking at a project in the region of $500 million to $600 million.”

Still More Time Needed

Even after approval for the project is obtained it will probably take an additional 14 months to obtain a contract to build the plant. “Since it is the first project (of its kind in Oman) it is taking a bit more time.”

Oman Subsidizing Purchase of Boats for Fishermen

In a move designed to help the fishing industry of the Sultanate, the minister of agriculture and fisheries announced his approval of subsidies which will pave the way for fishermen to make purchases of the equipment they need to ply their trade.

Subsidies Will Help Fishing Industry

Dr. Fuad bin Ja’afar Sajwani issued his decision on Tuesday which will appropriate subsidies for the purchase of boats, equipment, engines, GPS devices and other materials which advance the practice of fishing.

Help With Additional Equipment

There will also be subsidies available for the purchase of containers and cold stores for the preservation of fish. In addition monies will be available to help boost the fish farming industry such as to establish fish farms and buying fish and fish feed. Included also are subsidies to support fish transportation and marketing.

Fisheries Crucial to Omani Economy

Aside for the oil and gas industry, fishing and fisheries are one of the highest contributors to the gross national product. The fisheries sector is also viewed as having a greater potential growth due to the fact that the fishing waters within the Omani sphere are considered one of the richest in the world.

Analysts recognize the vital role that the fisheries sector plays within the Omani economy. The fishing industry affects tens of thousands of fishermen and their employees. The great growth which the industry has experienced of late is a reflection of the confidence the public has in it in addition to its clear importance the industry has to the overall Omani economy.

Talmiz Ahmad’s ‘Children of Abraham’ to be Launched in Oman

Ambassador Talmiz Ahmad

There will be a book launch at WH Smith, Jawaharat Al Shatti, on Saturday  for the newly published Children of Abraham: The Clash of Messianic Militarisms, written by Talmiz Ahmad, who was the former ambassador to Oman representing India.

High Praise for “Children of Abraham”

Children of Abraham was published last year and is considered a landmark publication in the field of religion and violence, and has received outstanding reviews from Indian, Saudi and international scholars.

The author, Talmiz Ahmad is presently stationed as the ambassador to the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, continuing a diplomatic career spanning 37 years, much of which having been spent in the Gulf states as well as West Asia.

Messianism for the Good and the Bad

The subject matter of the book is quite relevant to today’s world; exploring the role that ideology plays in modern-day violence. Ahmad discusses the organization and motivating impulse which propels militarists to assert their beliefs in extreme ways. The focus on messianic belief as a major factor in not only bringing comfort to those that adhere to the ideology is contrasted with the tendency for messianic militants to demonize those who are different. Ahmad asserts that messianic belief is often used as what he calls “divine sanction” for much of the extreme violence witnessed in the world today against “the Evil Other.”

What the Reviewers Have to Say

Faisal Devji of Oxford University reviewed Ahamad’s book in the journal ‘International Affairs’ from London: “–(in regard to) the debate on terrorism after 9/11 … writers of all hues feel compelled to identify themselves with one or another position within the conflict– Talmiz Ahmad’s clear-headed account of the theological reasoning that informs even the most ‘realistic’ narratives of all sides in the war on terror manages to stand outside this debate.”

Another review, by Lisa Kaki in “Arab News” from Jedda said, “Children of Abraham at War offers a fresh look at the situation in the Middle East with its focus on the role of messianism in contemporary politics, a force too often unacknowledged.”

Saeed Naqvi, Indian journalist commented that

“This book is a reassertion that the thinking ambassador is not quite extinct.”

Solid Growth Expected for Broadband Market in Oman

Ross Cormack, Chief Executive Officer for Nawras, a telecommunications firm in Oman, said that strong growth in the broadband market can be expected as more and more technology-savvy businessmen are demanding state-of-the-art technology in order to successfully compete in the world market-place.

Demand at Work and Home

More businessmen and others in Oman want to have fast and full internet access whether they are at work or at home, according to Cormack.

“Broadband devices are the future for the development of ICT. Wherever you go, you should be able to access high speed Internet easily and efficiently,” he said. “There is a vibrant base of business leaders in Oman and having the technology already available for them can only help to boost entrepreneurship further.”

Omanis Want Connectivity

Mr. Cormack also believes that the demand for more interactive broadband services as well as better nationwide connectivity have already been driving a real shift to a more multi-media focus while the impetus to connect all Omani citizens gains interest.

“Trends are showing a huge shift from linear television towards entertainment and social media on Internet, fixed and mobile and we believe interactive broadband services will encourage this move to grow,” he said.

“Major advancements have been made to the fiber for home technology in Oman,” Cormack added.

Smart Phones Driving Up Broadband Demand

One of the factors driving the demand for better broadband service is the increased demand from smart phone users who want to have complete access to internet services.

“Leisure has changed people’s lifestyle and smart phones reflect that,” Ross Cormack said. “In this context, more broadband access has to be provided, since people naturally want to use these new technologies to their full extent.”

Ross Cormack made these comments during an interview by the Oxford Business Group, as part of the research for “The Report: Oman 2012,” OBG’s upcoming analysis of business trends and investment opportunities in the Gulf State Sultanate.

AIWA Awards for Business Achievement Set for May 30th in Oman

As Oman continues to grow as a world class capital of business and finance new methods of ranking the best businesses are being established to help investors and businessmen make their crucial financial decisions.

Awards for Oman’s Best Businesses

One such important innovation is the upcoming awards ceremony sponsored by the Alam al-Iktisaad Wal A’mal (AIWA.) The awards ceremony will recognize Oman’s highest achievers in the business world.

The event is going to be highly publicized, targeting the very top echelons of the Arabic speaking business community in the Sultanate of Oman. New indicators are being established for the industry, and for the first time Omani corporations will be singled out according to qualitative indicators of performance. Performance was assessed using a transparent survey according to the highest of international standards.

Alam al-Iktisaad Wal A’mal (AIWA) is Oman’s leading Arabic monthly business magazine, and is published by United Media Services, (UMS.)

Ceremony at Al Bustan Palace

The event, billed in English as “Awards for Oman’s Best Performing Companies” will take place at the Al Bustan Palace on May 30, 2011. Oman’s minister of commerce and industry, HE Sheikh Sa’ad bin Mohammed al Mardhoof al Sa’adi, will be the guest of honor at the awards.

It is expected that the event will be attended by the most influential of Muscat’s corporate businessmen, offering all those interested a remarkable chance for networking among Oman’s best and brightest. Predictions estimate about 250 of Oman’s top business leaders, senior government officials and CEOs from a wide variety of ministries, business sectors and government agencies.

Pinnacle of Performance Awarded

In addition to AIWA there are several finance companies sponsoring the awards event, including Muscat Securities Market (MSM) and Gulf Baader Capital Markets SAOC (GBCM.)

“Achieving the pinnacle of corporate performance is the dream of every CEO. But very few CEOs manage to convert their dream into a reality. Alam al-Iktisaad Wal A’mal Awards for Oman’s Best Performing Companies endeavors to recognize and celebrate the excellent performance of the listed companies who have made it to the top,” says Sandeep Sehgal, CE of UMS.

A total of 15 awards will be distributed to Oman’s top ranking companies. AIWA will also recognize two of Omani’s most successful citizens who have shown outstanding achievement in business and economic growth. The two awards for individuals will be in the categories of AIWA Global Omani of the Year and AIWA Life Time Achievement.

Royal Decree Paves Way for Islamic Banks in Oman

Despite the fact that the Middle East is where the heart of Islam lies, the Islamic banking sector is still a weak spot, especially when compared with the flourishing Islamic financial markets in Muslim south Asia.

New Financial Products in Middle East

There is no question that recent events in the Middle East which have increased uncertainty have not done the world of Middle East finance any favors; there nevertheless have been the sprouting up of a variety of new financial products across the region. As choices multiply and the industry matures in places like the Gulf States and Jordan, the issue of sharia-compliant banking options is beginning to be addressed.

Royal Decree Allows for Sharia-Compliant Banking in Oman

The latest action in this area has been taken in the Sultanate of Oman. Last Tuesday a royal decree was issued which allowed the creation of the country’s first Islamic banks.

Gigi Varghese, an analyst at Vision Securities in Oman, was taken by surprise by the timing of the move, but he agrees that the idea of allowing for sharia-compliant banking to be established in Oman has been discussed in the past.

Omani Money Might Come Home

The solution for people until now living in Oman has been to keep their money in deposit accounts which bear no interest. Wealthier depositors who are now utilizing banks outside of Oman can now potentially bring their money home. Murad Ansari, banking analyst at EFG-Hermes believes that because the vast majority of Oman’s deposit base is not so sophisticated the new laws will mostly bring the demand deposits away from the local conventional banks to place their money in the newly established Islamic banks.