The Sultanate of Oman was formed in 1970 upon the accession of Sultan Qaboos bin Said Al Said, who has ruled ever since. The current estimated population is 4.8 million, of which almost 44 percent are expatriates employed in a range of industries. Over the years Oman had made diversification to shift its main focus as an oil-based economy. The strategic location of the country of Oman had benefited in a long way in diversifying its economy towards other sectors viz., tourism, manufacturing, mining etc. Arabic is the national language adopted by ministries and English widely spoken by expat population as well as by organised Omani workforce.
Oman offers following advantages to the foreign investors to invest in Oman.
The highest executive authority is the Council of Ministers deriving its power from His Majesty the Sultan, to whom it is collectively responsible. There are specialist councils, the Majlis A’Shura i.e. the Council of the People, the Government of the Capital and ministries.
The Sharia Law which is based on the Holy Quran is the general law of the land. To regulate and control its economic affairs, Oman has developed a comprehensive framework of laws and regulations.
Foreign nationals seeking entry into Oman are required to have visas, which may be obtained through an Omani sponsor from the Immigration Department of the Royal Oman Police.
The visa charges have been hiked considerably by the Ministry
Oman’s major exports are oil and gas. Export earnings are also derived from export of dates and tourism. Major imports are motor vehicles, equipment, computer hardware/software, consumer products, textiles and foodstuffs.
The general economic condition was hit in 2017 due to the decline in oil prices, but various measures were taken for the upliftment of revenue in other sectors like Tourism, Mining etc. in order to diversify the economy and reduce dependency on oil.
Further Tanfeedh program for economic diversification was commenced under the able leadership of HM Sultan Qaboos Bin Said in line with the 9th Five-year Development plan (2016- 20)
The Central Bank of Oman is the apex body which acts as the official bank of the government and supervises the finance in the banking sector. Central Bank of Oman issues and controls country’s monetary policy and regulates commercial banks and foreign branches of the banks.
Regulation of business activity and investment in Oman is done through various laws. The following are some of the important laws governing industry in Oman.
It is obligatory for all business activities to register with the Ministry of Commerce & Industry and become members of the Oman Chamber of Commerce and Industry.
Non-Omani participation in the capital of a company is not allowed to exceed 70%. However, in certain exceptional cases, 100% of the capital of the company can be owned by foreigner by the Ministry of Commerce and Industry.
In order to attract more foreign investment and ease the doing business in oman proposals have been mooted for introduction of regulatory changes in restriction on equity holding of foreign investors in omani companies.
Online registration for companies had been simplified through invest easy program which will facilitate the companies to register, update and edit any company information online without the physical involvement of the personnel at the ministry.
Social Security Law requires Omani employees working in the private sector to be insured against old age, disability, death and occupational injuries and diseases. As per this law, private sector employers must make monthly contributions to the Public Authority for Social Insurance at a rate of 18.5% of each Omani employee’s monthly basic salary including the employer’s contribution.
The National Program for Enhancing Economic Diversification (Tanfeedh)
Owing to the rapidly increasing economic, financial and social challenges facing the Sultanate, there was an urgent need for an initiative to keep pace with such developments. In response to this, the National Program for Enhancing Economic Diversification (Tanfeedh) was announced as a core element in the Ninth Five Year Plan.
The Sultanate turns into one of the leading countries in the Transport and Communications Sector, through providing high quality, accessible, sustainable and safe services by the relevant Ministry, while taking into account its Social responsibilities, making of the Sector the second source of the National Income and positioning the Sultanate among the top ten countries in the logistical performance internationally, by the year 2040.