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Corporates unite to back Oman Cricket

27 Sep 2021 By ASHOK PUROHIT

Seven leading companies sign sponsorship deals with Oman Cricket ahead of the sultanate’s hosting of the T20 World Cup

Muscat – The jarring noises of welding machines, yellow-helmet clad blue-collared workers braving the heat overlooking the lush green carpet at the Oman Cricket Academy Ground (OCAG) at Al Amerat is a common sight these days.

Preparations are on at a war-footing as Oman prepares to script a new chapter in their sports history – host the ICC Men’s T20 World Cup opener on October 17 followed by first-round games of the global showpiece event till October 21.

The prospect of Oman being catapulted into the spotlight on the world stage, with an approximate TV audience for the T20 World Cup estimated to be around 3.5bn, is a perfect pitch for the sultanate’s growing corporate sector to play upon, and on Monday, seven of the nation’s top companies came forward to join forces with Oman Cricket (OC) by signing a multi-sponsorship agreement.

The signing ceremony was held at the very venue of the T20 World Cup opener involving Oman and Papua New Guinea (PNG) next month, and OC chairman Pankaj Khimji was excited on the encouraging development for cricket and sports in Oman.

“It’s great to have the corporate sector support us at this time to ensure the success of the grand event,” Khimji said on Monday.

The signing agreement ceremony was graced by H E Abdulsalam bin Mohammed al Murshidi, Chairman of Oman Investment Authority (OIA) and H E Basil bin Ahmed al Rawas, Undersecretary for Sports at the Ministry of Culture, Sports and Youth (MCSY), along with the top honchos of the seven leading companies.

The agreements are expected to provide a financial boost to OC, which is investing a lot and racing against time to put up a world-class infrastructure by the first week of October.

The seven companies that have come forward to support OC are Oman LNG Development Foundation, Omantel, OMIFCO, Sohar International Bank, Jindal Shadeed Iron and Steel, Sohar Port and Free Zone and Sohar Aluminium.

Speaking to Muscat Daily, Khimji said, “The ICC T20 World Cup is one of the biggest events in Oman’s sporting history. To have the backing of leading companies ahead of such a prestigious event is a big boost for us. It will ensure that we put the best foot forward in front of the world.”

The agreements were signed by Ayad al Balushi, chairman of Sohar Aluminium; Amor al Matani, CEO of Oman LNG Development Foundation; Ahmed al Musalmi, CEO of Sohar International Bank; Aladdin Baitfadhil, vice-president (consumer) of Omantel; Khalid al Fanah, corporate sustainability manager at OMIFCO; Sanjay Anand, COO and head of Jindal Shadeed Iron and Steel; and Omar al Mahrizi, CEO of Sohar Free Zone.

Among the major investments done so far with regard to the hosting of the T20 World Cup has been the installation of floodlights with an illumination capacity of 3,100 lux, new electronic scoreboard, temporary seating capacity increased to accommodate 4,000 fans, construction of 24 hospitality boxes, which could host 20 fans in each hospitality box.

The upgrades are continuing and according to Khimji, all the work will be done by October 10.

“It has been frenetic for the past few months and we are proud to say that everything is on course and as planned. We have been strongly supported by the sports ministry and various other ministries and other concerned organisations,” he said.

“We have emphasised on providing jobs to Oman-based companies, be it security, infrastructure and transportation. There is a clear socio-economic benefit for Oman. We are in the final stages of preparations and hopefully we will make it the best-ever ICC tournament,” added Khimji.

Musalmi, who signed the sponsorship agreement for Sohar International Bank, said, “With the bank’s vision of becoming a world leading Omani Services Company, our association with such global sporting event reiterates our passion for the country, our insight for its socio-economic development.

“Oman Cricket has played a paramount role in promoting cricket in Oman and is now all set to host the ICC T20 World Cup. Sohar International is proud to be associated with such exemplary initiatives. It gives us great pride to be a part of such a journey.”

Matani of Oman LNG Development Foundation said, “We are delighted to support Oman Cricket as one of the sponsors ahead of one of the biggest sports event in Oman. We hope that our support will encourage talent in the sultanate and strengthen Oman’s position in the world of cricket. The ICC T20 World Cup will showcase our country’s true potential and we are glad to be part of the historic event in Oman.”

The signing ceremony was also attended by senior OC officials – H H Qais Khalid al Said (vice-chairman), Kiran Ansari (treasurer), Paul Sheridan and Alkesh Joshi (board members) along with OC’s chief development officer Duleep Mendis.

Oman will host first-round Group B games on October 17, 19 and 21. The group comprises Bangladesh, PNG, Scotland and the hosts with the top-two teams advancing to the Super 12s, which will be played in the UAE.

Meanwhile, tickets for the T20 World Cup are expected to go on sale later this week.

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