The Sultanate of Oman will celebrate the 53rd glorious National Day this Saturday, 18 November 2023, marking milestone accomplishments made in all aspects of life under the leadership of His Majesty Sultan Haitham bin Tarik.
Since HM Sultan Haitham bin Tarik’s Accession to the throne three years ago, the Sultanate of Oman has made quantum leaps in the political, economic, social, cultural and military fields, including the launch of the “Oman Vision 2040” and the tenth five-year plan (2021-2025), both aiming to achieve the country’s aspirations by consolidating its status as a modern state that enjoys stability and growth internally, as well as balanced and moderate foreign and diplomatic policies regionally and internationally.
The Kingdom of Bahrain and the Sultanate of Oman have enjoyed distinguished relations dating back to the cradle of ancient human civilisations that existed in the Arabian Gulf, namely the Dilmun civilisation in Bahrain and the Majan civilisation in Oman.
The Bahraini-Omani relations flourished during the prosperous eras of His Majesty King Hamad bin Isa Al Khalifa and His Majesty Sultan Haitham bin Tarik at all levels, thanks to the two countries’ shared religion, language and authentic traditions, in addition to their wide-ranging partnerships.
The official visit of HM Sultan Haitham bin Tarik to Bahrain last October embodied the strength of bilateral ties, as six agreements, 18 memoranda of understanding and an executive programme on cooperation between the two governments were signed.
The two countries’ partnerships are the outcome of the work of the Bahraini-Omani Joint Committee, which was established in 1992, upon the directives of the two countries’ leaderships.
The establishment of the Joint Business Council between the two countries’ chambers of commerce and industry aimed to support their efforts to push cooperation between their business sectors forward and promote each other’s investment opportunities.
As a result, the volume of bilateral trade exchange continued to grow during the first half of this year by 10% compared to the same period last year, going up from $ 900 million to $ 1 billion.
Over the past decades, the Sultanate of Oman has succeeded in implementing a unique and sound economic experience based on diversifying sources of income, enabling it to attain landmark achievements that placed its economy in the 64th place globally.
A report by Oman News Agency (ONA) said that the Sultanate of Oman continues to implement economic plans, financial and investment programmes within the framework of the tenth five-year plan (2021-2025), guided by the priorities of Oman Vision 2040. The outcomes of these plans have contributed to enhancing the GDP growth, raising financial and economic indicators, improving credit ratings, and achieving some financial surpluses that were directed to economic and social priorities.
The economy of the Sultanate of Oman witnessed a growth in fixed prices by 2.1 percent during the first half of 2023. Oman managed till the first half of 2023 to reduce public debt to RO 16.3 billion, thanks to rationalizing and raising the efficiency of spending, as well as the increase in public revenues as a result of the rise in oil prices. It was also attributed to the financial measures taken to increase non-oil revenues, in addition to managing the lending portfolio by repurchasing some sovereign bonds at less than their issuance value, repaying high-cost loans and replacing them with lower loans, and issuing local bonds for trading on Muscat Stock Exchange (MSX) at a relatively low cost.
Meanwhile, the contribution of the tourism sector to the GDP reached RO 1.070 billion in 2022. It is hoped that it will reach 2.75 percent during the next two years, compared to 2.4 percent at the end of last year (2022).
Foreign direct investments (FDI) recorded a 23.3 percent increase at the end of the first quarter of 2023, to stand at RO 21.27 billion.
Oman strives to attract investments for projects in various fields, including renewable energy and clean hydrogen, as many land plots were allocated for this purpose. In this framework, two agreements were inked last June 2023 with an investment value of approximately USD 10 billion, to develop two new projects for the production of green hydrogen in the Governorate of Al Wusta, as the total expected production will reach 250 metric kilotons of green hydrogen, equivalent to 6.5 gigawatts of renewable energy capacity.
Within the same context, HH Sayyid Theyazin bin Haitham Al Said, Minister of Culture, Sports and Youth met with some CEOs of global companies who participated in Duqm Economic Forum last month (October 2023).
During the meeting, HH Sayyid Theyazin highlighted the investment opportunities available in the fields of renewable energy and clean energy, such as green hydrogen and green ammonia. These sectors come in line with Oman’s approach towards zero carbon neutrality by 2050. The meeting also spotlighted the incentives offered to investors and the investment milieu in Oman.
At the behest of His Majesty the Sultan, a fund named “Oman Future Fund” was launched last May 2023 with a capital of RO 2 billion. The fund is aimed at enhancing economic activity and encouraging the private sector to enter into partnerships or finance feasible investment projects in the sectors of economic diversification targeted by Oman Vision 2040.
The Sultanate of Oman accords a priority to digital economy to be a contributor to the national economy. To this end, His Majesty the Sultan gave instructions in this regard to design a national programme to implement and localize artificial intelligence (AI) technologies, and to accelerate the devising of legislation to position these technologies as basic enablers and catalysts for these sectors.
The National Digital Economy Programme works to build and develop a prosperous digital economy in the Sultanate of Oman based on several principles that include establishing national industries in the digital economy, enhancing in-country value (ICV), and generating sustainable opportunities.
The Sultanate of Oman seeks to maximize the benefit of its geographical location through the special economic zones and free zones. It also strives to utilize the maritime transport routes to connect markets in the GCC, Europe, Asia and Africa. For this purpose, Oman has established Khazaen Economic City that includes two free zones in the Governorate of South Al Batinah. The city has managed to attract local and foreign investments worth RO 300 million.
Khazaen Economic City and the rest of economic zones and free zones in Sohar, Duqm, Salalah and Al Mazunah are regulated by legislations and systems that encourage investment and offer low taxes and advanced infrastructure.
This economic mobility in the Sultanate of Oman and the subsequent positive results towards improving financial and economic indicators and reducing the state’s public debt made credit rating institutions raise and modify their credit outlook for Oman. Standard & Poor’s raised the credit rating for Oman to “BB+” with a stable future outlook, Fitch raised the credit rating of Oman to “BB+” with a stable outlook last September, and Moody’s raised the credit rating of Oman to the level of “Ba2” while maintaining a positive outlook.
Meanwhile, the Sultanate of Oman has made progress in several global indicators, as it ranked 56th globally and 5th in the Arab world in the Industrial Competitive Performance Report for 2023, issued by the United Nations Industrial Development Organization (UNIDO). Oman also advanced 10 places in the Global Innovation Index for 2023 to obtain the 69thrank globally, out of 132 countries.
Meanwhile, the foreign policy of the Sultanate of Oman, under the leadership of His Majesty Sultan Haitham bin Tarik, continues to provide a global role-model, based on mutual respect, common interests and benefits, non-interference in the internal affairs of countries, respect for international conventions and laws, and upholding the principles of peace, humanity, dialogue and tolerance. In this context, His Majesty the Sultan said, “We reassert our firm political tenets, solidly anchored in the principles of good neighbourliness and non-interference in the internal affairs of other sovereign nations. Our position is further rooted in a steadfast belief in the establishment of a just and equitable system for mutual benefit and exchange of interests, aimed at establishing solid foundations for stability and peace, and to make a positive contribution towards these noble objectives”.
Therefore, these principles and values pursued by the Sultanate of Oman in its foreign policy have made it a source of trust and appreciation for international units and organizations to play active roles and achieve security, peace and stability in a number of regional and international issues. These principles and values stress that the approach of peace and cooperation is the only path and the safest ideal model for the region and the world at large.
Oman’s renewed renaissance, under the leadership of His Majesty the Sultan and the efforts of its noble people, is pressing ahead to achieve development goals and realize aspirations, so that Oman and its people enjoy a more prosperous future, ONA reported.