The Omani government has made great efforts to improve economic diversification in Dhofar Governorate and turn Salalah Free Zone into an important center to attract investment and support economic diversification policies.
The Sultanate will implement the tenth development plan next year. The plan seeks to achieve several goals by 2028 to contribute to the promotion of economic diversification policies, such as attracting investments estimated atUS$20 billion, or RO7.7 billionand providing 54,000 job opportunities for citizens.
Talking about the government’s great efforts to accelerate economic diversification in Dhofar Governorate,H E Sayyid Mohammed bin Sultan Al Busaidi, Minister of State and Governor of Dhofar, said, “The Free Zone in Salalah is considered one of the most important fruits of the Blessed Renaissance which aims to support development efforts in Dhofar and contribute to the diversity of sources of income and the growth of the national economy.
We commend the successes achieved in Salalah Free Zone, which was established in 2006. Salalah Free Zone received this attention and annual care from the Late His Majesty, Sultan Qaboos bin Said, may Allah rest his soul, based on what it depends on, in supporting the balanced development efforts in the governorate and contributing to the diversification of income and the growth of the national economy. After more than 13 years have passed since the establishment of this important economic hub, we commend the successes achieved through developing the business and attracting investments, and we value the efforts of all concerned authorities in this field, on the basis of these escalating successes to align with the vision programme. We aspire to transform Salalah Free Zone into a global and regional center for attracting investments in line with the government’s policy to diversify sources of national income and create new job opportunities for citizens by attracting vital projects in multiple and varied fields.
H E Ahmed bin Nasser Al Mehrzi, Minister of Tourism and Chairman of Salalah Free Zone, said, “While SFZ currently has an aggregate investment of RO3.3 billion, this great success in attracting investments brings many developmental gains for the national economy to benefit from facilities such as ports and airports, business opportunities for national companies, small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) and providing jobs for citizens, transferring knowledge and technology.
“Within this framework, we continue to organise promotional campaigns in target markets such as India, Turkey, Iran, South Africa and other markets with a focus on attracting quality investments that serve economic diversification policies such as logistics, manufacturing, innovation-based and modern technology. We aspire that the coming period will witness further growth in the free zone and its economic contribution, thanks to setting strategic goals and working to implement them according to the strategic plan for the region, in the light of the great interest and acceleration of economic diversification efforts in the Sultanate, we are very optimistic about the future of the region, which has high capabilities that qualify it to compete at the global level.
H E Dr Abdullah bin Ali Al-Omari, First Deputy Chairman of Majlis A’Shura, said, “The huge investments made by the Omani government over the past decades have led to a major development in the industrial and free zones in the Sultanate. Through our visits and follow-ups in the Shura Council and our knowledge of the efforts made by the Salalah Free Zone, we see that important results have been achieved for attracting new industrial and commercial investments that contribute to increasing economic growth in the country.
“There are many promising opportunities available to entrepreneurs through the establishment of service and logistical projects that complement the existing investments in the region. (SFZ) achieved an Omanisation rate of about 89% in the management of the free zone and 36% as a general average of Omanisation in the region, which is higher than the percentage specified in the Royal Decree (62/2006) for establishment of (SFZ).”
He added, “The free zone has announced a Knowledge Academy project with a national investment amounting to US$ 20 million and aims to meet the needs of the free zones sector from the national talents that qualify to enter the labour market. We hope that this academy will have a major role in raising the Omanisation rates and increasing the efficiency of the cadres National.”
Shaikh Eng Hussain Al Bathari, Chairman of OCCI branch in Dhofar, said, “The Sultanate’s efforts in improving the investment environment and partnering with the private sector are making great progress in Salalah Free Zone (SFZ), in the light of the completion of its infrastructure, such as Salalah Airport, Salalah Port, and the advanced road network that paves the way to turn Dhofar into an important global center for tourism, industry and logistics.
“I think that the presence of many industries aimed at exporting in SFZ has led to a great activity in Salalah Port, and this provides many opportunities for growth for small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) and for all entrepreneurial projects. We all hope that the future vision of the Sultanate, which depends on economic diversification, the development of governorates, people and society, and the provision of prosperity to the Omani citizens will have a major role in increasing economic activity in Dhofar Governorate and all governorates of the Sultanate.”
Eng Ali bin Salem Omar Fadel, Vice-President of Dhofar Municipality, member of the Municipal Council in Dhofar Governorate, said, “The major economic entities in Salalah Free Zone makes a big difference on multiple levels, such as stimulating the investment environment, providing job opportunities, and companies’ contribution to social responsibility.
We have seen during the outbreak of the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic that the interest was great in this contribution by the management and employees of (SFZ), as well as investors and companies operating in the free zone, this is what we always hope for, from the solidarity between all components of society, from the governmental and private sectors, to serve the community.”
He added, “SFZ is now the headquarters for dozens of international companies that take advantage of the strategic location to maintain global transport lines, which provides easy access to a large number of global and regional markets. These companies export their products abroad and bring foreign currencies to the Sultanate and contribute to tax revenues. They play an important role in accelerating the catch-up of technical revolutions and the use of modern technology in production processes, and it facilitates our national cadres and business leaders to develop their skills and keep pace with the continuous progress of the labour market.”
Sheikh Jassim bin Abdullah Al Misnad, Chairman of the Philex Pharmaceuticals Industries at the freezone, said, “The region has many factors that encourage investors, as it provides encouraging incentives, tax exemptions and infrastructure on a global level, in addition to the security and stability that Oman enjoys. The investors see continuous progress and success of the Sultanate with regard to increasing the competitiveness of the Omani economy and providing an attractive environment for investors, which encourages them to choose Oman as a preferred station to establish their new investments. SFZ has launched initiatives to facilitate doing business. The investor can now register licenses, obtain licenses and sign investment agreements in just 60 minutes.”
He added, “I, as an investor, work in the pharmaceutical industry, which is one of the targeted sectors in the strategic business plan in the free zone. The work is currently taking place in our ‘Philex Pharmaceuticals’ complex, with an investment size of US$365 million, and it provides more than 300 job opportunities. The complex aims to produce more than 100 compound pharmaceutical types for export to the Middle East and North Africa, and we expect the plant’s construction to finish in the third quarter of 2020.”
Ali bin Mohammed Tabouk, CEO ofSalalah Free Zone, said, “Promoting the growth of non-oil sectors is a strategic choice for the Sultanate. the Sultanate’s free and economic regions have witnessed great interest by the Omani government through continuous improvement in infrastructure, investment incentives, and legislation regulating investment. Salalah Free Zone has succeeded in establishing itself as a center of attraction for investments in value-added entities. We signed 7 investment agreements until the end of the first half of this year, bringing the total investment agreements in the Salalah Free Zone to 88, with a volume of investments of RO3.3 billion or more than US$8.7 billion. It will create more than 8,000 direct jobs.
“We recently signed a memorandum of understanding ( MOU) to establish a technology city for innovation and fourth-generation technologies. The city will include a Data Park, a technology academy and support facilities with an investment of US$350 million on an area of 500,000sqm. We have also started construction operations for the second phase of an ‘Al Mazaya Logistics Station’, which raises the total area of facilities and storage capabilities in Salalah Free Zone to 134,000sqm.”
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