Oman's promising road to economic recovery

Amid the pandemic, a sukuk sale and various government initiatives bode well for the future

Photo taken in Muscat, Oman
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Following a prolonged period of uncertainty during the Covid-19 pandemic, nations around the globe are now preparing for economic recovery and the upcoming period is an especially important one for Oman.

Considering that Oman is a relatively small oil producer compared to other countries in the GCC region, the national economy took an enormous hit when fuel prices crashed in 2020.

After a challenging few years, things began to look up for the Omani economy when the country held its first dollar-denominated sukuk sale since 2018, which received record demand, with the $1.75 billion nine-year sukuk generating over $11.5bn in revenues.

This outcome was fuelled by a number of factors, most notably a rise in oil prices this past year and a fiscal consolidation plan that quelled investor concerns over a sudden surge in debt.

Increase in national debt over the past few years has been an enormous concern for Oman’s economy that slid several ranks. However, the response to this sukuk sale and the confidence of the investors are excellent indicators and motivating factors for the nation following a period of poor economic gains.

Following this encouraging turn of events, I expect Oman to garner more interest from high net worth investors from around the world and attract more funds that contribute towards economic growth.

However, we must also keep our finger on the pulse and work our hardest to maintain this momentum that has the potential to translate into greater long-term benefits for the country.

There is no better time than now for all citizens and organisations alike to revisit the economic goals outlined in the Oman Vision 2040 and renew our commitment to them. In doing so, we can collectively elevate our nation’s fortunes and make the most of our resources to ensure the most beneficial outcomes for all.

The Oman Vision 2040 justifiably emphasises economic diversification. I believe as a result of the unique circumstances and challenges that arose over the past year and a half during the Covid-19 pandemic, individuals across the globe have been pushed to think out of the box and innovate in order to survive and even thrive.

This period has helped us realise that economic productivity can be achieved despite physical distance and other perceived barriers. Organisations that relied on the efficient use of technology were not as badly impacted by lockdowns as those that did not.

Perhaps companies in Oman can reassess their use of technological products and seek solutions that increase efficiency and revenues in the long term.

Importantly, we must remain focused on business opportunities across our national and regional borders. Professionals are now accustomed to working online so we must leverage any and all potential to collaborate with businesses in other countries for mutual benefit.

A view of Petroleum Development of Oman near Muscat. Reuters

Global tech company SAP published a white paper recently titled Navigating Oman’s Vision 2040 Through SAP’s Lens, confirming what we already knew. Digital transformations that support our nation’s vision are poised to help the ICT market grow to $5.6bn by the year 2024 while also increasing citizen engagement.

Digital advancements and optimal use of technology will no doubt drive our nation forward and also support economic sectors that have been named as priorities by the government – namely tourism, manufacturing, transport and logistics, mining and agriculture and fisheries.

Our government also rolled out the National Employment Programme this year, which aims to empower professionals with the knowledge and skills that employers are seeking. In doing so, the programme aims to foster more holistic and synergetic employer-employee relationships.

Undoubtedly, Oman has witnessed a series of challenges in recent times. However, the world that we live in has evolved and our experiences have compelled us to look past traditional norms to succeed and grow.

Encouraging signs such as the enormously positive response to the sukuk and promising feedback from investors in addition to government initiatives to boost economic progress must serve as an inspiration for all Omanis to put their best foot forward and work towards achieving the vision of our wise leaders.

Mohammed Alardhi is the executive chairman of Investcorp and chairman of Sohar International

Published: June 30, 2021, 9:00 AM