The transport and logistics industries offer strong prospects for companies, with the logistics sector expected to see annual growth of 7% till 2020. The Sultanate of Oman Logistics Strategy 2040 (SOLS 2040) was developed in 2013 to establish Oman as a global logistics hub, facilitated and overseen by Oman Logistics Centre. Transport networks, both in the form of public transport infrastructure and road construction, have been another focus for domestic and regional development. This is demonstrated through the construction of a road which connects Oman with Saudi Arabia1.
The improvements in transport networks provide Singapore companies with easier mobility, investment opportunities in logistics (e.g. smart technologies and distribution hubs), air transport and travel (e.g. cargo operations, general aviation services, aircraft maintenance and catering services), and in tourism (e.g. hotel operations, hospitality services and real estate development).
As Oman ramps up industrial development and experiences a growing population with lifestyle habits transforming, its demand for power has increased by 10% annually, with the rate expected to further increase between 2022 to 2027. Oman has set aside a substantial budget for investment in this area, and has called for tenders on various projects to keep pace with growing demand. It also to add approximately 685km of new transmission lines by 20212.
Renewable energy-based projects are also in the works. Oman’s current reliance on fossil fuels for power is unsustainable and impedes on economic growth. With vast unused land and a conducive climate with high amounts of solar radiation throughout the year – particularly in the desert areas, Oman has great potential for solar energy development. This proves to be a prime opportunity for Singapore companies to seize.
With the Omani government’s move to transform the country through e-government and e-commerce services, its information technology sector is expected to see fast growth. In 2012, the Oman Data Park was launched to boost its domestic ICT sector. Citizens are also digitally savvy, with 151 mobile phone subscriptions for every 100 inhabitants and internet users forming almost 70% of the population3. In 2017, the Information Technology Authority (ITA) developed a 2030 Digital Oman Strategy (eOman) focused on improving digital literacy in its people, and developing a vibrant digital and ICT industry ecosystem – supported by new standards and policies.
Oman plays host to MENA Innovation 2019 – an official Ministerial Forum for ICT Innovation in Education, which will see attendees from public and private sectors (including industry and solution providers). The forum is an important platform that reflect Oman’s dedication in building digital literacy and driving technological innovation.
Tourism is a crucial engine of growth in Oman’s economic diversification plan. The government draws on its cultural heritage and natural assets to encourage foreign investment in hospitality, attractions, and meeting, incentives, conferences and exhibition (MICE) centres. For example, the Oman Convention and Exhibition Centre, one of the largest convention centres in the region and located in close proximity to the Muscat International Airport, makes Oman a leading global MICE destination.
Instability in other parts of the Middle East, notably in Syria, has helped to divert tourist traffic to Oman. Tourist numbers have climbed steadily from just over 1 million in 2011, to approximately 2.3 million in 20174. Tourists enjoy sites like Bahla Fort (a UNESCO World Heritage Site), Sultan Qaboos Grand Mosque, and various sporting activities like off-roading, caving, and paragliding that speak to adventurous souls. Singapore companies in the hospitality and tourism sector can explore many ways to appeal to a wide range of tourists.
Oman is the largest oil and gas producer in the Middle East that is not a member of the Organisation of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC). Its oil and gas sector contributes almost half of GDP and more than 80% of government revenue5. Oman is also a major crude oil exporter, primarily to Asian markets, with China being one of its largest export market. It produces over 1 million barrels of crude oil a day, but has crude oil reserves of just 5.4 billion barrels6.
Oman’s gas reserves amounted to about 651.3 billion m3. However, most of the readily available resources have already been extracted. The government is studying how to tap more inaccessible deposits on a commercially viable basis.
Consumers in Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) countries have significant disposable income, with the average per capita income exceeding US$40,000. In line with rising affluence and busy urban lifestyles, the packaged and processed foods industry across the Middle East is expected to be a growth sector.
Across the region, the food sector has seen increased investments by both foreign and local food manufacturers, as well as private equity firms. Local food service operators are looking at opportunities to invest in food manufacturing facilities which complement their existing businesses. Demand for non-traditional convenient options (e.g. ready-to-eat meals and food vending machines) and tastes of Asian food are also on the rise. This presents Singapore companies with opportunities for co-investment. This presents Singapore companies with opportunities for co-investment.
Singapore has also seen strong growth in its food exports to GCC countries, as food importers trust the Singapore brand – due to high product quality and compliance with food safety standards. This awareness is helped by Singapore firms’ regular participation in food trade show Gulfood, with 2019 being the tenth year of participation.