AGRI, FISHERIES GROWTH MORE THAN DOUBLES
MUSCAT, JULY 17 - Oman's agriculture and fisheries sector registered a mammoth 16.3 per cent growth in 2016 against an average 6.4 per cent in the previous five years. The real GDP contribution from the sector also showed improvement during the recent years.
The relative share of the sector in the overall GDP improved to 2.0 per cent in 2016 compared to an average share of 1.3 per cent during the previous five years.
"Two consecutive years of marked fall in food prices in the international markets in 2015 and 2016 benefited Oman to a great extent in terms of moderation of domestic food prices", points out a report by the Central Bank of Oman (CBO). The contribution of fishing sector to overall GDP has been set at 2 per cent by 2020 with an annual growth rate of 5.6 per cent.
The apex bank reveals in its 2016 annual report that the relative share of agriculture and fishing in the overall GDP improved to 2 per cent in 2016 compared to an average share of 1.3 per cent during the previous five years. As the country largely depends on imported foodgrains and other agro-based products, international prices of those commodities often influence the price situation in the domestic economy.
"In order to make the growth process in Oman more resilient to the external price shocks, 'Vision Document' has set the target for the agriculture sector to contribute about 3.1 per cent of GDP by 2020 with an annual growth rate of not less than 4.5 per cent", says the report. Throughout all the Five-Year Plans, the Ministry of Agriculture and Fisheries has developed and implemented several policies, mechanisms, and programmes aimed at providing a suitable productive environment for Omani farmers, livestock breeders and fishermen.
The Ministry seeks to promote viable investment capabilities in the agricultural and fisheries sectors in coordination with the relevant Government institutions and private companies. As part of this plan many projects were implemented with investments amounting to about RO 509.4 million, and a fish production output of 462,000 tonnes.
These projects are expected to receive a direct financial return of RO 369.6 million in fixed prices and an indirect return of RO 739.2 million, in addition to providing more than 8,600 additional direct jobs by 2020. In line with the future vision 2040 strategy of the Sultanate and the ongoing efforts for the development of the fisheries sector, the ministry has signed a contract with the World Bank to complete the Ministry's plan for the development of this sector.
The cooperation programme is intended to develop a comprehensive strategy for the development of the fisheries sector, as per international standards and requirements. This project is now in its final stages. The ministry is also striving to attract national and foreign investments in aquaculture so that its contribution to the GDP can be increased.
Source: Oman Observer, 17 July 2017
ROTANA PLANS NINE HOTELS IN OMAN BY 2020
MUSCAT, 26 APRIL 2017 - Rotana, one of the leading hotel management companies in the region, plans to open nine hotels in Oman by 2020. The upcoming properties will add more than 1,600 rooms to its existing inventory of 400 rooms in the sultanate, taking the total tally to over 2,000.
Sheikh Salim bin Ahmed al Ghazali, chairman, Golden Group Holding (GGH) and Nasser al Nowais, chairman of Rotana, signed the pact for the 250-room hotel in Al Mouj at a ceremony held on the sidelines of the Arabian Travel Market (ATM) in Dubai which is being held from April 24 to 27. The signing ceremony was held in the presence of H E Maitha al Mahrouqi, Undersecretary in the Ministry of Tourism and other dignitaries from Oman and UAE.
The new hotel project Al Mouj Rayhaan by Rotana will be located within the Al Mouj development in Muscat, which will also have two more hotels, a four-star Shaza Hotel and the luxury Kempinski Hotel. Al Mouj Rayhaan by Rotana will feature 250 rooms, suites and apartments along with world-class amenities and services.
Located on the prime sea front and designed to meet diverse guest needs, the property is scheduled to open before 2020, a statement from the company read. The management agreement for Al Mouj Rayhaan by Rotana further strengthens the strategic relationship between Rotana and GGH. The two companies had signed an agreement for the development of five new hotels in Oman in 2015. "The agreement marks the continuation of our valued partnership with GGH," said Nowais.
As one of the fastest growing tourism and hospitality markets in the region, Oman has everything going for it - from a rich history and spectacular landscapes to an increasingly diverse mix of top-class tourist attractions. "Rotana has ambitious plans for the Oman market, with no less than nine hotels set to open in the sultanate by 2020. We are delighted to have a company of the strength of GGH as a key strategic partner in our efforts to transform Oman's hospitality landscape and continue our company's expansion in the region."
Ghazali said, "We are happy to further strengthen our strategic alliance with Rotana. This pact confirms our commitment to investing in Oman's tourism industry and contributing to the plan developed by the government to increase the share of the tourism sector in the GDP."
He said that GGH is developing multiple hospitality, mixed-use and master developments to accomplish a variety of tourism projects throughout Oman. "GGH, with its subsidiaries Taameer Investment and Al Sedrah Real Estate, currently has 13 hotels in various stages of development - all managed by major international operators."
Source: Muscat Daily, 26 April 2017
NEW MEGA PROJECT TO BOOST HOSPITALITY SECTOR IN OMAN
MUSCAT, 19 APRIL 2017 - As with all projects under construction by Omran and within OCEC, the hotel is being built according to the highest standards of environmental sustainability and is designed to meet the criteria for the prestigious Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) certification by the US Green Building Council.
"The bank is proud to be associated with Omran for this prestigious development. Projects of national importance, such as these, are key for the development of the hospitality sector and, in turn, foster economic growth and generate local employment. We endeavour to support the Sultanate's objective of promoting growth in the hospitality sector and the diversification of the nation's economy. This valuable partnership is a clear representation of that support," added QNB Oman's Al Jenaibi.
"This agreement represents a milestone for our partnership with QNB, as well as the banking sector in the Sultanate as a whole. We are pleased to join hands with QNB for this development, which is major component of the landmark OCEC project," noted Omran's Al Hinai, while highlighting the high levels of mutual cooperation with the private sector. Once complete, the OCEC, part of phase one of Madinat Al Irfan Urban Development, will include four hotels, a business park, and a retail shopping mall in addition to the Convention Centre Precinct.
The OCEC precinct plays a key role in the government's strategy to diversify the national economy and stands as the centrepiece of Oman's business development programme. The business and urban precinct will position the Sultanate as a major venue for regional and international events and in doing so, will increase Oman's business tourism offerings and strengthen the sector at large.
OCEC was conceptualised right from the beginning to be a fully integrated convention precinct; one that will play a central role in the government's drive towards the growth of the tourism sector. The precinct as a whole is expected to attract over 600,000 visitors a year. The JW Marriott, together with the Crowne Plaza and the two additional planned hotels, will go a long way in facilitating the needs of such a significant number of visitors to the capital region. The new project will include four hotels, a business park, and a retail shopping mall in addition to the Convention Centre Precinct.
Source: Times of Oman, 19 April 2017
HALAL FOOD INDUSTRY OFFERS HUGE POTENTIAL
MUSCAT, 23 MARCH 2017 - Oman has several advantages in tapping the growing market for Islamic or Shariacompliant products and services across the world, according to Islamic finance experts, who attended a major conference here recently.
"Islamic food or the halal industry is (valued at) about $2 trillion a year," said Sulaiman Al Harthy, deputy chief executive officer (Is- lamic Banking Group) at Bank Muscat. If Oman can get 5 per cent of the total halal food industry, it will be enormous," he said, while attending a panel discussion.
The Sultanate's private sector can work with experts in halal food manufacturing and become an export base to meet growing demand from across the world. The experts also noted that Oman has several advantages in attracting investment in Shariacompliant industries, which in- clude state-of-the-art infrastructure and incentives for investors.
"The Sultanate is in a good position to take advantage of the potential," noted Al Harthy, while attending a panel discussion on driving Oman's economic development and diversification plans through Islamic finance at the IFN Oman Forum and Dialogue recently.
The recent move of the Capital Market Authority to grant initial approval for OMR300 million of sukuk will help provide finance for Sharia-compliant projects. Since Islamic institutions and instruments can only fund Sharia-compliant ventures, the corpus from these Islamic bond issues will help the industry. Also, these issues will also help building benchmark yield curves. Addressing the seminar, Hamoud Sangour Al Zadjali, executive president of the Central Bank of Oman, said the market share of Islamic banks and window operations of conventional banks touched 10.3 per cent in terms of assets, 10.9 per cent in terms of finance and 10.6 per cent terms of customer deposits.
These achievements were made in a short span of four years. The total assets of Islamic banks rose by 36.65 per cent to OMR3 billion by December-end in 2016, from OMR2 billion for the same period of 2015. Similarly, financing by Islamic institutions surged by 36.1 per cent to OMR2.4 billion by Decemberend in 2016, from OMR1.7 billion during the same period of 2015. Likewise, customer deposits of Islamic institutions were up 40.9 per cent to OMR2.1 billion from OMR1.5 billion during the period under review.
Source: Times of Oman, 23 March 2017