Oman boasts a variety of deep water ports that enable global shipping lines to easily carry out major cargo operations through Omani ports. However, the sultanate’s own shipping services has played a major role in boosting business as well as providing necessary and timely imports to meet the country’s demands during the COVID-19 pandemic.
The development of a national container line, express services, direct shipping routes and refrigerated container services has helped Oman to improve business and investments in its sea ports.
This is resulting in attracting international shipping lines to Omani ports and maximising the benefits from its prominent geographical position as an eastern gateway for the Arabian Peninsula.
Oman Shipping Company, an arm of Asyad Group, works to realise Asyad’s initiative to revolutionise Omani sea ports and achieve its performance targets as part of an overall revamp of the logistics service sector. The initiative continues to make headway since its inception in 2019 through the establishment of Oman Container Line and maritime services offered to GCC states and India.
Oman Container Line seeks to increase the number of transported containers, and accordingly, managed to achieve 7% additional performance along Indian Express Line during the first half of this year, despite challenges posed by the COVID-19 pandemic.
Ziyad bin Abdullah al Harbi, in charge of Strategic Planning and Research, Oman Shipping Company, said that the company’s initiative achieved high performance indicators and that the pandemic did not affect the firm very seriously since operational infrastructure for Oman Container Line had already been established prior to the onset of COVID-19 way back in 2019.
“The first direct shipping route to Indian ports was operated by December 2019 as part of the inauguration of Express India Service Line. This was in addition to expansion in commercial operations of container shipping along all other routes operated by the company,” said Harbi, noting that this step contributed to enhancing Asyad Group’s preparedness to deal with the pandemic while, at the same time, opening up direct shipping lines that, in turn, reinforced direct import and export, supported the national economy, and provided the basic needs of the sultanate. “This truth stood stark clear in the midst of the crisis,” he observed.
In fact, the pandemic reflected positively by speeding up the start of refrigerated container shipping services, said Harbi. “The company launched its first refrigerated container transport services to meet urgent demand during the pandemic, and this opened commercial opportunities and earned the company more experience and an ability to deliver refrigerated containers before scheduled dates.”
He added, that the company has affiliation with a 10-port network, including the ports of Sohar, Duqm and Salalah, through three maritime trade routes of Oman Express Service (OEX), Gulf Express Service (GEX) and Indian Express Service (IEX), in addition to the ports of Hamad and Khalifa.
“The inauguration of Indian Express route was, in particular, instrumental in activating the company’s initiatives, since it covers Mundra port and other Indian ports, along with Sohar port, Jebel Ali Port and Dammam Port,” said Harbi.