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A solid trade and industrial base
PERHAPS not so well known to the rest of the world is the fact that Oman has a long history of trading and industry.
The Sultanate enjoys a rich history in world trade due to its strategic location at the midpoint of global trade, as well as the industry and entrepreneurship of its people. This began in earlier centuries with the copper and frankincense trade to the East Indies and continues right to the present day with some of the largest and busiest ports in the region.
Oman has abundant natural and human resources and has seen rapid growth under the able leadership of Sultan Qaboos bin Said. In terms of human resources, Omanis are recognised for being professional, eloquent, knowledgeable, friendly and honest. They are also blessed with a great ability to deal with various world cultures and be part of a globalised economy. Strategically located at the centre of East-West trade route, Oman is ideal for both local and international business.
In terms of natural resources, Oman has oil, natural gas, mineral resources such as copper, zinc, silicon and iron ore as well as other commodities such as limestone, gypsum and marble.
Since 1970, the overall vision of Sultan Qaboos has focused on recognising Oman as a destination for sustainable social and economic development. Oman has invested in a robust infrastructure, with advanced telecommunication networks, modern and well maintained road networks linking the various industrial areas, and other social infrastructure such as hospitals and educational institutions.
International standard ports include Sohar Industrial Port, Salalah Port, Duqm Port and Sultan Qaboos Port, while the country is also well served with local and international airports at Muscat, Salalah, Sohar and Duqm.
Oman has a range of bilateral agreements and has access to various world markets. It is a member of the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC), which also has an FTA with Singapore, the GCC Customs Union and the Greater Arab Free Trade Area (Gafta), has a Free Trade Agreement (FTA) with the US and bilateral international agreements with many other countries, which means Omani products can be freely exported.
Oman is keen to promote investment and offers various incentives to investors. These include tax exemption on net profit for an initial five years with possible extension, exemption on customs import duties for machinery, equipment, spare parts, raw materials, semi-processed inputs and packaging materials used in production, no personal income tax and facilities offered by the Export Credit Guarantee Agency as well as highly competitive land lease rates.
Oman also offers exemption from income tax for 30 years in Al Mazunah Free Zone and 100 per cent foreign ownership within Knowledge Oasis Muscat and Al Mazunah Free Zone.
It is hoped these will help localise the national capital and contribute to stimulating the private sector to achieve sustainable economic and social development.
Oman has established 11 industrial estates along with four special trade zones and bonded logistics areas. Of these the Rusayl, Sohar, Raysut, Nizwa, Sur, Al Buraimi industrial estates, Al Mazunah Free Zone and Knowledge Oasis Muscat have been completed while the Sumail and Al Rowdha industrial estates and Ibri logistics area, all initiated in 2014, are still under construction.
Oman also has two free zones in Sohar and Salalah as well as the Duqm special economic zone and the South Batinah logistics area.