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Oman Business News

Ithraa helps shape a new investment, export future

Targeting priority international markets and sectors, Ithraa has been at the heart of driving Oman’s inward investment and international trade since 1996. “There is probably no topic more important to an Omani CEO today than how they grow their business – and if you talk about where growth is going to come from in the next decade for local companies, it is going to be in tackling overseas opportunities. In fact, trading internationally is a natural step for many Omani businesses looking to grow and Ithraa is proud of the part it can play in assisting them harness the possibilities of foreign markets,” says Nasima al Balushi, Ithraa’s Director General for Investment & Export.

According to the export and investment expert, while exporting extends an Omani company’s market, boosts turnover and reduces reliance on a domestic customer base, it is not always an easy option with challenges ranging from overcoming exchange rate fluctuations and dealing with cultural, legal and language barriers to meeting labelling requirements and coping with extended payment terms to maintaining a healthy cash flow.

“To help local businesses overcome any export problems they may encounter, Ithraa provides market intelligence, organises local and international trade events; and educates companies about markets opened by Oman’s various free trade agreements,” explains Al Balushi.

She goes on to point out that Ithraa has identified 21 countries that are lucrative for Omani exports and 59 products that have the potential to be exported. Of particular interest are markets in the GCC, Sub-Saharan Africa and Iran, locations that have all hosted recent OPEX trade shows, an initiative spearheaded by Ithraa in partnership with OCCI and Madayn.

Accelerating Oman’s drive to promote local non-oil exports as well as attract increased levels of investment, Ithraa has recently organised missions to Qatar, Italy, Algeria, India, Sudan, France, Switzerland, Germany, the UK, India, China, Canada and the UAE. These have proven successful and helped strengthen Oman’s business ties with these important international markets.

Al Balushi notes that these outreach activities help communicate Oman’s stand out characteristics and competitive advantages to the international business community. Indeed, for this trade expert, initiatives like this are key to attracting talent and investment to the Sultanate.

“In fact, over the past few years, we have seen a steady stream of investors being drawn to our shores, a result, in my opinion, of the government’s ambitious economic diversification strategy, our modern infrastructure, international connectivity, Class A office and manufacturing space as well as access to a well-trained, youthful, multilingual talent pool.”

Later this month, and alongside SEZAD and the Ministry of Tourism, Ithraa will participate at the 2019 Yunnan International Smart Tourism Conference in Kunming.
The three organisations will also participate in the parallel 30,000-square-meter tourism exhibition being held at the Kunming Dianchi International Convention & Exhibition Centre.

Oman is participating at this prestigious Chinese tourism event, Nasima notes: “The opportunities for growth are there, and as Oman’s inward investment and export development agency we stand ready to help businesses of all sizes forge ties and cultivate relationships with potential Chinese investors and buyers.”

In addition to the Kunming event, Ithraa will be organising Invest in Oman roadshows in China, Japan and Saudi Arabia later this year. The organisation’s export team are also finalizing plans for September’s participation at Marmomacc – the world’s leading marble and stone trade show – in Verona. Plans are also in place to organise the second SMEs exhibition in Doha for later the year. On top of this, Ithraa’s highly successful Oman Export Week will be held October 27-31 at the Oman Convention & Exhibition Centre.

“Now more than ever, nations such as China and India must be prioritized in order to ensure that our business community is well prepared for the continued economic importance of the East.

Whilst this may appear straightforward, moving our trade and investment focus away from familiar territories to markets in China and India is a serious undertaking. This is why our engagement with both countries must be long-term and holistic in approach,” advises Ithraa’s Director General for Investment & Export.

As one of the world’s fastest moving economies, registering 7 per cent growth in 2018, India is of serious interest to Ithraa’s investment and export teams. However, it is a market that varies widely across its many different governorates and states but it is one that should be taken seriously by Omani companies that are seeking to expand and go international. Interestingly, the business opportunities have now stretched beyond the traditional business centres to the emerging cities such as Chennai, Nagpur, Ahmedabad, Chandigarh, Pune and Jaipur, to name but a few.

For Ithraa’s Al Balushi while identifying international opportunities is one thing, being able to capitalize on them is another entirely.

“It is important for local businesses, particularly SMEs, to understand what it means to go international. This is why Ithraa launched Oman Export Week in December 2018. An intensive five-day program, it was designed to help local companies understand what is involved in exporting and for them to be competitive internationally.”

Showing people around the world what an outstanding place Oman is to work and invest in is Ithraa’s highly popular Inside Stories initiative.

“Created ten years ago to serve as an incubator for creative business thought, Inside Stories brings together some of the brightest minds in Oman, innovators, visionaries and entrepreneurs to take a deep dive into topics as wide-ranging as hyperlocal tourism, smart cities, micro-manufacturing, the changing world of work, entrepreneurship, and attracting investment and talent. The idea behind the initiative has always been to have a ripple effect, where we can take good business news, energy and inspiration and spread it as far as we can,” says Ishaq al Busaidi, Ithraa’s Director General of Marketing & Media.

Concluding, there is one message Al Busaidi is keen to emphasise: “Team Ithraa works relentlessly to make more people aware of all Oman has to offer — not only is the sultanate a great place to live and work; it also has a fantastic business environment that encompasses everything from affordable office and manufacturing space and a proactive, business friendly environment to outstanding multilingual talent and great transport links. It is this combination that makes Oman a compelling option for businesses.”
  • Ithraa
  • Oman
  • Inward Investment
  • International Trade
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