The MEED Oman Projects Forum: summary and proceedings

The MEED Oman Projects Forum was held at the Al Bustan Palace Hotel on 27-29 October  2014. The event was organised in close co-operation with the Ministry of Commerce & Industry.

Oman Development Bank was SME financial partner. AECOM was bronze sponsor. Drake & Scull International and Hill International were conference sponsors. Al Madina Insurance, Acciona and EHAF exhibited. Rotary Engineering was lanyard sponsor. Networking sponsors were Galfar and Sarooj.

The conference addressed the following topics:

  • Economic trends and prospects in the Omani economy
  • Trends in the Omani projects and construction sector
  • Plans and projects in Oman’s oil and gas sector
  • Plans and projects in Oman’s transport sector
  • Plans and projects in Oman’s industrial sector
  • Plans and projects in Oman’s aviation and tourism sector
  • Plans and projects in Oman’s fisheries sector
  • Government programmes to support SMEs.

The conference was told that:

  • The Omani economy has enjoyed a decade of solid growth and is entering a new era when non-oil sectors will be more important as a source of output and employment
  • The government of Oman plans to borrow locally and internationally to maintain spending in key areas including on projects despite lower oil prices. The borrowing will be carefully managed and sustainable.
  • The banking sector is liquid and solvent but is constrained by the need to raise capital adequacy to requisite international levels
  • The Muscat Securities Market is a potential source of additional finance for projects
  • Privatisation of government-owned companies could help support financing of government activities
  • Oman will continue to expand electricity and water capacity, but action is needed to contain demand
  • Transport projects are the largest elements of Oman’s infrastructure investment programme and includes further development at Sohar, Salalah and Duqm and the imminent start of construction of the Oman railway network
  • Developing an integrated transport strategy to optimise the use of transport assets is a priority. The government is taking steps to develop it. Oman could as a result emerge as the most important sea-cargo gateway into Arabia by 2050
  • New industrial projects are being developed, including major schemes using gas as feedstock
  • Aviation and tourism will become one of the most important non-oil sectors of the economy in the next 10 years. Action is needed to promote Oman as a sustainable global tourism destination
  • Output and employment in the fisheries industry will double by 2030. Initiatives include developing Duqm as a global fishing and fish industries hub.
  • Oman’s SME development programme is making progress and will continue to attract strong government support and private sector interest.
  • Action is being taken to expand and increase the efficiency of Oman’s healthcare and education system.


Keynote session

Minister of Commerce & Industry Dr Ali bin Masoud al-Sunaidy, Minister of Commerce and Industry

Dr Al-Sunaidy said that more than $127 billion worth of projects were under way in the sultanate. This is in addition to more than $80 billion projects being executed at different stages of completion, while more are scheduled to be launched in the remaining 14 months of the present five-year plan, he said. Dr Al-Sunaidy said that that growth in non-oil output is now faster than oil and gas production.
Central Bank of Oman executive president Hamood al-Zadjali

Central Bank of Oman executive president Hamood al-Zadjali said the Omani economy is solid and that non-oil output was expanding. He said that possible borrowing next year — which might include a sovereign loan, a bond or a sukuk– would be limited and sustainable.

Al-Zadjali said the financing of megaprojects will continue and Oman is working to improve Oman’s credit rating. He said inflation is expected to remain around 1 per cent in 2015. The situation has been helped by the strengthening of the dollar and any rise in the dollar will help lower inflation, he added. The banking industry remained liquid, solvent and well-capitalised.

Al-Zadjali said the main challenge was maintaining the pace of economic development and creating jobs.

“The future of the Omani economy and banking in particular remains promising,” Al-Zadjali said. “…. promoting diversification, increasing the role of private sector and, in particular, stimulating private investment is the key.”


Capital Market Authority (CMA) chief executive officer Abdullah al-Salemi

Capital Market Authority (CMA) chief executive officer Abdullah al-Salemi told the conference that heavy investment in physical infrastructure is designed to create an environment within which the private sector can develop and prosper, independent of government support and subsidy.

“The end of the long cycle of rapid growth in oil wealth is coming to closer,” Al-Salemi said. “Oman oil export earnings are expected to fall in 2014…This is going to raise the pressure on government to fund upcoming spending,” he said.

“How can the capital market of Oman overcome these challenges?” Al-Salemi said. “Our strategy for the coming two-three years is to integrate the capital market with the local economy and use it for long-term investment in economically-productive projects.”

“There is a bit of regulatory constraint in the banking sector due to the impact of the Basle code,” Al-Salemi said. “The nature of the finance provided by banks is almost always short term. We expect this trend to go forward in the coming years.”

Al-Salemi said that the Muscat Securities Market could fill the gap.

“In 2013, the Oman capital market provided twice as much money to business as the banks and at a lower cost and it provided returns to investors of 24.8 per cent compared with 1.71 per cent from banking,” he said.

Undersecretary of fisheries wealth at the Ministry of Agriculture & Fisheries Hamed al-Oufi

Undersecretary of fisheries wealth at the Ministry of Agriculture & Fisheries Hamed al-Oufi said the fish catch by the sultanate’s fishing industry is growing by 10 per cent a year and could reach 500,000 tonnes in 2020 compared with just over 200,000 tonnes in 2013.

“Most other fisheries have reached saturation,” he said. “Ours is still growing.”

Oman has 3,165 km of coastline and 1,300 species of fish have been identified in the sultanate’s waters. It employs about 40,000 fishermen, almost all of them Omanis. Sales of fish in Omani ports were worth $415m in 2013.

Al-Oufi said that there were more than 20,000 vessels working in the Omani fishing sector, but 19,000 are small and 698 traditional are fishing vessels. Modern ships comprise 130 coastal fishing vessels and 34 commercial fishing vessels.

Al-Oufi said the industry has been hindered by underinvestment and the seasonal nature of employment which has discouraged Omanis working in the sector. “The government has introduced a pension for the self-employed which will attract more people to the sector,” Al-Oufi.

“We are trying to improve the life for people working in the sector and at the same time we are trying to protect the environment,” Al-Oufi said.

“We have a strategic plan that has been approved by the Supreme Council of Planning. This calls for an upgrade of the fleet, modernisation of fishing harbours to increase the number to 31 by 2021, the development of fish marketing and exports and the development of commercial aquaculture,” Al-Oufi said.

Al-Oufi said that plans call for the exploitation of small pelagic species that are found in great abundance in the entrance to the Strait of Hormuz. These can be used to produce animal feed and fish oil.

Al-Oufi said that fishing projects include new fishing harbours and infrastructure and villages for fishermen.

“We develop these projects through partnership with the private sector,” Al-Oufi said.

“We are building the harbours but we need people to invest in processing plants and workshops,” Al-Oufi said. “There are plenty of opportunities, but the government will take the lead.”

Al-Oufi said a new wholesale market has been opened in Barka.

“People used to go to Saudi Arabia and other places to sell their fish. Now they can do it in Oman,” Al-Oufi said.

Al-Oufi said three new fishing harbours are under construction, three are at the tender stage and six are under design.

“We are building these harbours to be multi-purpose,” Al-Oufi said. “There is space for tourism, a ferry and the coastguard in all of them.”

The biggest project is the Duqm Fisheries Industrial Zone which the government is investing $250m in.

“It will be the largest multi-purpose fisheries facility in the Middle East,” Al-Oufi said. “There will be 60 processing plants, storage, a fishing port, vessel repair, aquaculture and training facilities.”

“The tender for the port has been floated and we are inviting consultants to bid for the contract to do the masterplan for the entire project,” Al-Oufi said. “We need partners to invest in and operate this zone.”

Al-Oufi said Oman’s fishing industry plans include aggressive investment in fish farming.

“Oman is to be the leader in aquaculture in the Gulf region,” Al-Oufi said. “We have a long coastline and clean water very suitable for aquaculture.”

The Oman Aquaculture Company has been created to support and invest in the industry, Al-Oufi said.

“We have done a major study and developed an atlas for suitable sites for aquaculture,” Al-Oufi said. “The regulatory framework for the sector was established in 2011. Investment guidelines are prepared. We have incentives in place and we have identified species appropriate for fish farming.”

These include shrimp, tuna, sea bream and grouper.

“We are ready to invite serious investment proposals,” Al-Oufi said. “Aquaculture in Oman is to reach 200,000 tonnes of output in the next three decades.”

“There is a connection between tourism and aquaculture,” Al-Oufi said. “We don’t think there will be competition.”

“We forecast income from fishing could hit RO 396.6 million in 2020,” Al-Oufi said. “But the total contribution to GDP could be around RO 739.2 million.”

Al-Oufi said the expansion of the fishing industry will have further knock-on effects. “We are planning for the construction of 1,000 new vessels and we want these to be built in Oman.” Al-Oufi said. “We are encouraging investors to set up shipbuilding yards in Oman.”


Ahmed al-Jahdhami, CEO of Oman Power & Water Procurement Company (OPWP)

Ahmed al-Jahdhami, CEO of Oman Power & Water Procurement Company (OPWP), said Oman’s power and water demand was soaring and that peak electricity consumption could hit more than 11,000MW in the summer of 2020 (see chart below). Water demand could rise to 1.1bn cubic metres a day in 2019.

Al-Jahdhami said that investment in electricity and water production capacity is continuing. The OPWP is also working on plans to introduce a spot market for power, with a 2020 target date set for implementation.

Al-Jahdhami said OPWP would remain the single offtaker for electricity and would take on an additional role as market operator. He added that the spot market was being designed in such a way that further market liberalisation would be enabled “as and when it was considered to be the right time” by the government and regulators.

Al-Jahdhami said the spot market would assist in the trading of energy and capacity within the GCC, with the government having given approval for the sultanate to join the GCC Interconnection Authority (GCCIA).

He said the OPWP plans to award the contract to develop the Qurayyat independent water project (IWP) by the end of November. The company was in the final stages of the selection process and was expecting to award the contract “within the next month.”

OPWP received bids from six groups in early September for the contract, which will involve developing the planned 44 million gallon-a-day (g/d) desalination plant just south of Muscat. Under the terms of the proposed project, OPWP will purchase the potable water produced by the plant under a water purchase agreement (WPA) for a period of 20 years. OPWP has set a commercial start date of March 2017 for the plant.


Trends and prospects in the Omani economy

The conference was told that GDP growth has slowed since 2011 and will average 3-5 per cent in nominal terms in 2015-17.

Oman project trends and prospects

MEED Projects’ director of analysis Ed James said the value of contracts placed in Oman will reach an all-time high of more than $10bn in 2014 and this figure could rise to $13.7bn in 2015, “This will include the Orpic Liwa plastics project and the first phase of the national railway,” James said.

James said that MEED Projects figures show that a total of $87bn worth of project contracts is due to be placed in Oman 2014-18. He forecast that the value of contracts awarded would rise to about $13.7bn in 2015 from about $10.5bn in 2014.


The challenges facing the Omani projects sector were investigated by a panel of Omani and international specialists:

  • Ahmad Saif al-Mazrouy, CEO of Majis Industrial Services
  • Adel Merhi, Vice President of Hill International
  • Jack Crosby, Vice President for Operations at AECOM
  • Sandeep Mahajan, General Manager –Specialty & Reinsurance at Al Madina Insurance Company SAOG
  • Mario Salameh, Head of Project Finance MENA at HSBC Bank Middle East
  • Mustafa Mohammed Ali al-Lawati, Head of Project Finance and Loan Syndications at the National Bank of Oman.

The panel agreed that progress is needed in upgrading the capacity of clients to make effective decisions about megaprojects and expanding the range of skills among construction companies. Issues associated with tendering rules were cited as a source of difficulties.

Oil and gas projects

MEED’s oil and gas editor Mark Watts told the conference that Omani oil production has been recovering from a trough in the middle of the last decade. Output averaged 942,000 barrels a day in 2013, almost reaching the 2001 peak. The recovery in production has been driven by enhanced oil recovery (EOR) techniques reviving recovery from the sultanate’s maturing fields.

Gas production has increased significantly since 2000, allowing Oman to become a major LNG exporter. However, the sultanate’s fast-growing population and industrial footprint means it faces pressure to keep ahead of demand. This gas crunch has led to the planned development of the region’s first tight gas megaproject at the Khazzan field.

PDO hit record hydrocarbons production of 1.254 million boe/d in 2013. This involved producing:

  • Black oil: 569,700 b/d
  • Condensate: 85,900 b/d
  • Non-associated gas: 510,700 boe/d
  • Associated gas: 87,700 boe/d

However, crude and condensate production has not recovered to previous highs. Much of the oil output recovery has been driven by other producers.

Oman is the fifth largest EPC market for oil and gas projects in the GCC since 2009 with total spending of $8.96bn, or 5per cent of the regional market value.


With $2.66bn awarded to date, 2014 is set to be the highest year for oil and gas EPC spending in Oman since 2006. The contract value in 2014 has been driven major contracts on the Khazzan and Rabab-Harweel gas field development projects. Spending has increased every year for the last four years since a trough in awards during 2008-10.


Out of the estimated $31bn of projects in the pre-execution stage, 47per cent are in the EPC pre-qualification or bidding phase. Around 26 per cent are in the FEED phase, while 27per cent are undergoing feasibility and other studies.


Oman: Major planned oil and gas projects

Project Client Sector Status Expected contract award
Muscat city gas project OGC Gas Study 2015/16
Salalah LPG extraction plant OGC Gas Study 2015/16
Yibal Khuff sour development PDO Oil and gas FEED 2016
Muscat-Sohar product pipeline Orpic Oil EPC bid 2014/15
Nahayda-Duqm-Ras Markaz crude pipeline Orpic Oil FEED 2015
Duqm refinery DRPIC Oil EPC prequalification 2015
Ras Markaz crude storage terminal OTTCO Oil Study 2016
Liquids terminal Port of Duqm Oil Study 2016
Bodour field development project PDO Oil and gas FEED 2016

Source: MEED Projects

Oman’s transport infrastructure initiatives to facilitate the growth of logistics and tourism industries

Moderator: Raza Ashraf, Partner Consulting & Corporate Finance, Abu Timam Grant Thornton


Salah Mohammed Shuaili, Associate Director General of Projects, Ministry

of Transport & Communications

David Clifton, Regional Development Director, Faithful & Gould Middle East

Hamid al-Kathiri, Deputy General Manager, Port of Salalah

Belal Deiranieh, Vice President, Country Director, Qatar & Oman, Louis Berger

Raza Ashraf, Consulting & Corporate Finance partner at Abu Timam Grant Thornton said Oman has plans to build almost 2,000 kilometres of highways and roads.

The railway plan calls for 1,600 kilometres of track to be completed in five-10 years. The line will link Buraimi on the border with the UAE, Sohar, Muscat, Duqm and Salalah. This will provide a connection between the ports of Salalah, Duqm and Sohar with the GCC railway. The first 170-kilometre section linking Buraimi with Sohar is under bid and the contract could be awarded by the end of the year. Ashraf said the Oman Railway Company (ORC) has issued a request for proposals for the contract to do the demand modeling and analysis study. This will define the facilities that will be needed to support the railway.

A study of a masterplan for public transport starting with Muscat is underway. There are a number of challenges. How can transport, urban planning and land-use fit together so you make the most of it?

Salah Mohammed Shuaili said the transport infrastructure is essential. The potential is very substantial and the government is moving ahead with a variety initiatives. The Ministry of Transport & Communications (MOTC) is to commission a study into integrating transport.

David Clifton of Faithful & Gould said the train link from Salalah to Dubai will reduce transit time by half to two days compared with sea.  He said the strategy is moving in the right direction and the creation of hubs is good. But making the system work in the right way will be very difficult.

Hamid al-Kathiri, deputy general manager at the Port of Salalah, said that the port handled 25,000 cruise liner passengers in 2013. “There is a MOTC plan to build a cruise terminal in Salalah as part of its phase three expansion,” he said.


Sohar Port & Free Zone

Port of Sohar & Free Zone executive commercial manager Edwin Lammers said Sohar Port & Free Zone is preparing to deal with rising demand, new industrial investments and the construction of the Oman Railway Company (ORC) project.

The port is handling 44 million tonnes a year of cargo compared with 4.4 million tonnes in 2007, Lammers said. The port is expected to handle 600,000 TEUs in 2014 and is working to lift this figure to 1 million. Its capacity is 1.5 million containers.

Lammers said projects planned in Sohar include:

  • A strategic grain and sugar storage facility. This is planned to be built on land that has been transferred from the container terminal. It will comprise a complex of silos, a flour mill and bulk grain-handling facilities. It is also expected to serve as a hub for trading in grain commodities for the first time in the Sultanate. The project will have initial capacity to store 200,000 tonnes with the ultimate 300,000 capacity tonnes of grain and sugar. The client is the Public Authority for Strategic Food Reserves
  • Land reclamation for a new petrochemical project. Plans depend upon final government approval of the proposed and unnamed scheme, Lammers said. “We hope in the coming two months that we can start work on reclamation,” Lammers said.
  • A railway logistics and service centre. This is designed to support the proposed marshaling yard between the Sohar industrial estate and the free zone that is part of the ORC project.

Lammers said the majority of the free zone’s 5 million square metres has been leased. He said that masterplanning has started for an extension of the zone.

Lammers said the start of services at Sohar airport will allow the development of sea-cargo services. Work on the airport, which is designed to accommodate 500,000 passengers plus cargo, is due for completion in 2016.

“We are in a good position to deal with sea-to-air cargo, perishables and high-value goods including foodstuffs” Lammers said.

Lammers said that Sohar port is adjusting to the transfer of shipping and warehousing from Port Sultan Qaboos which stopped most commercial operations in at the end of August. The consolidation of services once split between Sohar and the port will create a new opportunity. “With the move of cargo from Muscat to Sohar, we can move into direct sailing,” he said.

All commercial containers, Ro-Ro, break bulk cargo and material handing vessels have transferred to Sohar. The conference was told that a proposed masterplan for redeveloping the Port Sultan Qaboos areas will involve investment of RO 1.2bn-1.4bn ($3.2bn-3.8bn) and take up to 12 years to complete.

Lammers said that $15bn has been invested in Sohar Port and its supporting industrial zone since the project was approved in 2002.

The challenges facing the transport sector was then discussed by a panel comprising:

  • Hamid al-Kathiri, Deputy General Manager, Port of Salalah
  • Warith Al-Kharusi, Executive Director, Al-Safwa Group & Partners
  • Edwin Lammers, Executive Commercial Manager, Port of Sohar


Duqm Special Economic Zone Authority

The Duqm Special Economic Zone Authority (SEZAD) was established in 2011 to:

  • Manage, regulate, and develop all economic activities in Duqm
  • Plan, design, and implement long-term strategies for infrastructural development.
  • Attract investments to promote a wide spectrum of economic activities
  • Oversee the urban expansion of the modern Duqm city while protecting the environment, thereby ensuring Duqm its rightful place as the best location to visit, live, work, and invest in the Middle East.

The completion of infrastructure, the first housing projects, hotels and retail outlets at Duqm will support the steady growth of the port’s permanent population.

Aviation and tourism plans

Oman Air chief operating officer Abdulrahman al-Busaidy told the MEED Oman Tourism Hotel Day the airline aims to increase its fleet to 70 aircraft in its present 10-year plan from 40 now and that it will accept 13 new aircraft in 2015 alone.

He said that the number of passengers using Oman Air is forecast to rise to about 4.8m in 2014 from 4.7 million in 2013, but less than 20 per cent are flying directly to Oman.”

Al-Busaidy said this was partly due to the shortage of affordable hotel rooms.

“I hear some five star hotels have occupancy of 15 per cent and yet charge 90 riyals night,” Al-Busaidy said. “There is an opportunity here for the winter and summer to promote tourism. If we had decent rates we could attract people from the GCC who would come for a couple of days and go to Salalah.”

Al-Busaidy said that Oman Air has launched a hotel stopover programme that provides Oman Air passengers with affordable room rates. He called on more Omani hotels to join the programme.

“If hotels could invest in five hotels a night in our stopover hotels scheme, it would make a big difference,” Al-Busaidy said.

Al-Busaidy said that tourism is becoming more important to the Omani economy and that the government’s aiming for the industry to account for 12 per cent of GDP compared with 3 per cent at present. He said that this will require a fresh approach along the entire tourism supply chain.

One challenge is capacity limits at Muscat International Airport. He said he’s been told the first phase of the new airport should open in 2016. This will have capacity to handle 12 million passengers a year. Long-term plans call for capacity to be raised to 48 million passengers.

Al-Busaidy said efforts to promote tourism in Salalah have been undermined by complex customs and immigration regulations which mean tourists having to be checked through immigration in Muscat before going to Salalah.

“We are asking the Royal Oman Police (ROP) for immigration checks to be done in Salalah,” Al-Busaidy said.

“The Geman market is very promising,” Al-Busaidy said. “Last year, 7,000 passengers came from Germany on chartered flights to Salalah.”

Al-Busaidy would like to start direct flights from Frankfurt to Oman but said the problem is that Frankfurt airport has capacity shortages. He said that Oman Air’s plans call for the development of more daily services on key direct routes.

“Our plans for new routes include China, Europe and Eastern Europe and Vietnam,” Al-Busaidy said. “My ambition is to go to the US,”

“Another important market is India,” Al-Busaidy said. “India has a middle class population of 400 million and they like to take short trips. If we can get just 1 per cent of that market, we can get a good number.”

Al-Busaidy said that the ROP has agreed to provide visas on arrival to visitors from the Indian subcontinent with the exception of Bangladesh and Afghanistan.

Al-Busaidy said that the Omani enclave in Musandam has enormous tourism potential. “Khassab is lovely but undeveloped,” he said. “We have decided to increase flights to Khassab.”


Hotel trends and opportunities

STR Global Middle East & Africa executive director Philip Woolmer told the MEED Oman tourism Day that STR’s September hotel census showed that there are plans to build 6,000 new hotel rooms in the sultanate. This compares with 9,000 hotels rooms recognised by the STR census.

Official figures show there are 282 hotels, including independent and small hotels not covered by the STR census with total of 22,404 bedrooms.


The redevelopment of Port Sultan Qaboos

The quickening pace of development in Muscat was unmistakably advertised at the end of August when the final commercial cargo was unloaded at Port Sultan Qaboos, the largest port servicing Oman’s capital.

From that date, all cargo previously shipped to the port has been diverted to Sohar Port, about 90 minutes’ drive to the north. The transfer has been demanding and not without its problems.

The end of commercial port activities in Port Sultan Qaboos in Muttrah area of Muscat is a turning point for the sultanate. It was developed in the 1970s to provide a modern gateway for cargo into the sultanate, then at the early stages of its first oil-driven boom.

Muttrah had been for more than two centuries the principal commercial harbour for Oman while Muscat harbour a couple miles to the south was preserved for the navy.  The port supported a polyglot community: some originally from the interior beyond the Jebel Akhdar to the west but many came from more distant places including Muscat’s distant domains in Gwadur in what is now Pakistan, Dar es-Salaam and Zanzibar in what is now Tanzania and Mombasa in Kenya. In the bustling streets around Port Sultan Qaboos, you would hear Hindi, Urdu and Swahili interspersed with English as much as you heard Arabic.

Oman’s Ministry of Transport & Communication has been given responsibility for the project which could cost RO 1.2bn-1.4bn ($3.2bn-3.8bn) and take up to 12 years to complete. The site totals 1.2 million square metres.

Plans call for the creation of a Waterfront Development Company to deliver the project. Consultants are being invited to bid for the contract to advise about the structuring of the company.

“The aim is to develop a high-quality waterfront destination that enhances the historical area of Muttrah,” said associate director for the Middle East & India at Atkins Bradley Wright who worked on the project’s proposed masterplan.

“The plan is to transform the Port Sultan Qaboos into the region’s premier tourist destination,” Wright said.  “It’s also to provide greater access to the public to the waterfont so it becomes an integrated public water front.

“We looked at international port redevelopment projects including for Valetta, Genoa, Cape Town and Baltimore,” Wright said.  “It is vital we reintegrate the port area with Muttrah and the city and that we incorporate as broad a range of projects as possible.”

Wright said the proposed masterplan calls for eight redevelopment zones:

  1. Waterfront heart: 26.4 hectares
  2. Royal Yacht squadron area.
  3. Commercial port: 9.4 hectares
  4. Cruise liner zone: 40.4 hectares
  5. Superyacht marina: 11.5 hectares
  6. Tourist hotel zone: 16.1 hectares
  7. Leisure park zone: 4.0 hectares
  8. Community and residential zone: 10.5 hectares.

“The corniche from Muscat is going to have to be upgraded,” Wright said. “We need to widen the corniche.”

“There is real potential to capture the cruise liner business,” Wright said. “But it’s important to attract the right type of visitors that spend money.  We are trying to ensure the standards for the cruise port are international class. We also want to attract visitors when the liner season is over in the high summer. A homeport cruise terminal is a possibility for the project and possibly a superyacht facility.”

The capacity of the port basin will be expanded to 22 berths from 13. This will include here dedicated cruise line berths.

Wright said the new transport infrastructure required will include:

  • A new main access intersection off al-Mina Street
  • A main spine route through the site
  • Dedicated secure access to and from the royal yacht zone
  • A hierarchy of secondary and distributor routes
  • New signaled intersections
  • Parking for up to 5,400 vehicles.

A multi-modal transport network is proposed, including water taxis and cycle routes, Wright said.

Wright said it’s estimated that redevelopment of Port Sultan Qaboos will create about 27,000 direct and indirect jobs in construction and operations. At least 9,000 of those jobs will be taken by Omani nationals, he said.

“The project has royal approval and is now proceeding,” Wright said.

Social infrastructure

Education in Oman

Undersecretary in the Ministry of Higher Education Dr Abdullah Alsarmi told the conference that almost 32,000 students graduated from Omani universities in 2013. “More than 60 per cent of the total is in scientific and vocational topics,” he said. Oman’s government was committed to meeting the demand for technically-qualified people to work in the private sector. The Ministry of Higher Education is now working on performance indicators to be applied to the sultanate’s institutions of higher education.


Academic Year 12th Grade Leavers Enrolled Applicants Per cent
Males Females Total Males Females Total
2009/2010 18,579 22,349 40,928 8,237 6,516 14,753 36
2010/2011 20,894 24,261 45,155 9,615 7,491 17,106 38
2011/2012 16,757 24,168 40,925 12,619 15,379 27,998 68
2012/2013 15,616 23,150 38,766 12,585 16,189 28,774 74
2013/2014 14,621 20,202 34,823 12,876 18,633 31,509 91



HE Dr Ali Talib al-Hinai, undersecretary at the Ministry of Health Oman, said Oman faces a double challenge in healthcare. The first is the projection the population will double to more than 7 million in 2050. The second is that government spending on health by the standards of the GCC is still low and must rise to lift standards and meet the needs of an aging population. At present, there are 80 hospitals and almost 1,300 healthcare centres in Oman. The private sector plays an important role in delivering tertiary healthcare


Oman: healthcare facilities, 2014


Agency                    hospitals         healthcare centres               Total

MOH                                      49                                        192                  241

In progress                          15                                          45                     60

Other government             5                                          45                  300

Private sector                     11                                        975                  986

Total                                       80                                    1,257               1,387

Source: Ministry of Health


The $3.6bn Liwa plastics project to be invited in 2015

Liwa plastics project general manager Henk Pauw said the EPC packages in the Oman Oil Refineries and Petroleum Industries Company’s (Orpic’s) $3.6bn Liwa plastics project are to be called in January-April next year.

“We hope to finish the FEED in March next year,” Pauw said. “Early packages for EPC contracts will be called in January and the final one in April.” Pauw said he expected the EPC contracts to be placed in or before October and for the plant to be operational in the fourth quarter of 2018.

The Liwa plastics in Sohar is the largest and most complex petrochemicals project attempted in Oman. Its annual project will include 880,000 tonnes of polymers, 300,000 tonnes of polypropylene,  90,000 tonnes of  MTBE, 41,000 tonnes of butane and 111,000 tonnes of pyrolysis gasoline (pygas).

“This is a complex project,” Pauw said. “Oman has never built a steam cracker or a polyethylene plant. There is a liquid pipeline and this creates additional engineering challenges. But we are very confident.

“Oman is not as gas-rich as other GCC countries,” Pauw said. “We are the first project to this size of gas allocation since 2006/07.”

Pauw said the project is at the last stage of prequalifying companies for the EPC packages. He said that the project is compiling a vendor list and invited companies that wanted to be on it to submit their applications.

“We are aiming for 10 per cent minimum of in-country value (ICV),” Pauw said. “There will also be opportunities for SMEs.”

ORPIC is the national refining and petrochemicals company by the Sultanate of Oman, jointly owned by the Government of Oman and Oman Oil Company. Orpic is one of Oman`s largest companies and is one of the most rapidly growing businesses in the Middle East`s oil industry.

It August, it announced it had selected the LyondellBasell Spheripol polypropylene process technology for Liwa polypropylene unit.


Takamul’s plans

Takamul is an investment company that builds sustainable, greenfield and brownfield industrial projects in Oman. Jalal al-Lawati said its operational assets are:

  • Oman Aluminium Processing Industries
  • Oman Aluminium Rolling Company
  • Gulf Specialty Steel
  • Sohar Sulphur Fertiliser
  • Salalah Methanol
  • Muscat Gases
  • Urea Distribution
  • United Facilities Management
  • Refraco Middle East
  • Centralised Utilities Company

It has 10 projects under construction or formation. They are:

Under construction

  • Aluminium Coil coating, 100 per cent, downstream project of Oman Aluminium Rolling Company
  • Majan ferrochrome
  • Oman Blending services
  • Sohar paper cores
  • Dry Ice Blast Cleaning

Under formation

  • Ompet PTA/PET
  • Duqm management and services industrial gas
  • SMC ammonia
  • Oman tank terminal
  • MX PIA project

SME plans and actions

The Public Authority for Small & Medium Enterprises Development (Pasmed )chief executive officer Khalifa Said Salim Al-Abri said Oman’s SME initiative is in response to the Royal Directives of Sultan Qaboos bin Said. The Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs) Development Symposium was held at Saih al-Shamekhat in the wilayat of Bahla on 21–23 January 2013.

Pasmed was set up by Royal Decree 36/2013 on 30 May. It provides financial, technical, administrative and legal consultation and assistance. This involves expanding access to finance; promoting SME access to markets; developing human capital; facilitating collaboration and encouraging SMEs to accept new technologies.

Development Fund chief executive officer Raphael Parambi said that the SME Development Fund, which raised its’ first RO 20 million ($5.4 million) in February is developing its initial SME promotion and investment programmes.

They include setting up entrepreneurship campuses within 10 Omani universities and colleges. These will inform and train Omani students about how to set up a business when they graduate. The programmes are voluntary and are in addition to students’ formal study programmes.

Parambi said that the fund has also disbursed its first loans to SMEs. He said the fund provides a wide range of financing with the exception of equity.

The SME Development Fund is supported by the Ministry of Commerce & Industry. Its authorised capital is RO 100 million ($27 million). The fund’s primary objective is to finance SMEs and promote entrepreneurship and sustainable SME development. The Fund is supported by National Company for Project Management.

The fund was developed under the offset Partnership for Development Programme for defence and security contracts.

The financing challenges facing Omani SMEs was discussed by a panel comprising:

  • Parambi, Chief Executive Officer of the SME Development Fund
  • Nasir Issa al-Ismaily, General Manager of the Export Credit Guarantee Agency of Oman
  • Daniel Felton, Head of Middle Market & Business Banking, Commercial Banking at HSBC Bank Oman
  • Yousuf al-Harthy, Managing Director of Infoshield

This was followed by an interactive session moderated by Mr Parambi comprising:

  • Eid Khair Mohammed, AGM Corporate Banking at the Oman Development Bank
  • Abdullah al-Jufaili, GM of the Fund for Development of Youth Projects (Sharakah)
  • Saad Mubarak Saad, Chairman of Asaatco