Oman will set up a 2 billion Omani rial ($5.2 billion) investment fund to boost its economy, Oman News Agency reported on Wednesday.
The new fund, called the Oman Future Fund, intends to bolster the sultanate’s economic activity and encourage the private sector to enter into partnerships or finance profitable investment projects to diversify the economy, reported state news agency ONA, citing a decree from Sultan Haitham.
The fund will allocate a percentage of its capital to bolster investments in small, medium and emerging businesses registered with the country’s Small and Medium Enterprises Development Authority, it added.
Sultan Haitham on Wednesday also announced the construction of a new city on the outskirts of Muscat.
Sultan Haitham City is being built to accommodate Omani citizens on low incomes. Nearly 20,000 properties will be built on 14.8 million square metres.
Once complete, the city will house up to 100,000 residents and will include schools, places of worship, hospitals, a university and shopping centres.
Oman, the largest non-Opec producer in the Middle East, expects a budget deficit of 1.3 billion rials this year, or 3 per cent of its economy, after achieving a surplus of 1.14 billion rials for 2022, the Ministry of Finance said in January.
The Gulf nation launched a three-year fiscal stability programme in October to add to the momentum of the sultanate’s economic recovery from the pandemic-driven slowdown and support the development of the country’s financial sector.
The sultanate also signed agreements with its Gulf Co-operation Council neighbours to boost its economy and create jobs, including a $3 billion railway network linking Oman with the UAE and a $320 million infrastructure development project with the Saudi Fund for Development.
Last month, Fitch Ratings revised its outlook on Oman from stable to positive and affirmed its “BB” rating as the country’s finances strengthened on the back of higher oil revenue and a fall in public debt.
The positive outlook reflected the view that the government is committed to fiscal consolidation, the rating agency said.