Month: November 2011
Oman’s National Day takes place every year on November 18. It is also the birthday of Sultan Qaboos and the country holds camel races and traditional dancing marking the events. Indeed, no place in Muscat or Oman remains undecorated – the entire city is lit up with festivity and fanfare, as well of course, as the traditional fireworks. Each street is lined by cutouts of the birthday boy as well as Oman’s royal flag. So let’s take a brief look at how other countries mark the occasion.
Oman’s UN Permanent Delegate, Her Excellency Liotha Bint Sultan Al Musgiriah, hosted a reception in New York. Naser Abdulaziz Al Nasr, Head of the General Assembly, UN Secretary-General, Ban Ki-moon, various journalists and diplomatic corps were also there.
A reception in Berlin took place in recognition of Oman’s National Day. Hosted by Her Excellency Dr Zainab Bint Ali Al Qasmiah, Ambassador of the Sultanate to Germany, representatives from the German Union for Trading, ministries, Oman-German friendship Association, Arab-German Society, the German Union for Trading, Omani Air executives, Arab-Germany Chamber for Commerce and Industry Sec. Gen., Germany’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs, and other executives and professionals were also in attendance.
A reception in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, was hosted by Malaysia’s Sultanate Ambassador, HE Aflah Bin Suliman Al Taei, and had as its honorary guest, the Deputy Minister in the cabinet, Datok Haji Ahmad Maslan. Diplomatic corps’ heads, executives, students and academics were also in attendance.
At The Hague, there were celebrations for Oman’s Day too, held under the auspices of the Sultanate’s Ambassador to the Netherlands, HH Sayyid Mohammed Bin Hareb Bin Abdullah Al Said. Members of Parliament, judges, senior officers, ruling family representatives and more, were in attendance.
BankMuscat and the International Organization for Safety and Health (IOSH) just signed a Health, Safety and Environmental (HSE) initiative. The signing took place at a ceremony at which the IOSH President, Subash Ludhra, was in attendance. BankMuscat took the opportunity to reveal its HSE logo.
Demonstrating its commitment to managing risk and protecting people, the Bank also unveiled its HSE logo on the occasion. The health and safety initiative marks an international first for Oman as BankMuscat is the first to create a safety management system in place in the banking sector in Oman.
Yaseen Abdul Latif, AGM — Finance and Strategy, said: “The BankMuscat HSE initiative is a natural progression of the health and safety measures adopted by the Bank to global benchmark standards. As ambassadors for health and safety in the banking community in Oman, we are happy to take the lead to ensure legal compliance with Ministerial Decision 286/2008 issued by the Ministry of Manpower and comply with the Central Bank of Oman mandate for all banks to develop safety management systems.”
Abdul Latif said: “The BankMuscat HSE policies are developed to prevent and avoid health and safety issues. Also if problems do occur, we are ready to ensure our emergency response is timely, disciplined and immediate to mitigate any injury or accidental damage. By establishing health and safety policy as an integral part of our safety culture, we embrace the individual and group values of our staff and take ownership of our social responsibility.”
Great expectations are in sight for Oman Aluminum Rolling Company (OARC) over the coming few years. By 2014, it is hoped that commercial operations will begin for the company. According to Buddy Stemple, OARC’s CEO, five years thereafter, it is due to reach its production capacity of 160,000. He mentioned this at the Arabal Aluminum Conference that was held recently at the Muscat’s Grand Hyatt. It is anticipated that the growth will start at around 55,000 tons per annum until it reaches its full capacity. This is going to be part of a five-year plan.
Supporting the Project
A few months ago, building on the plant began, with an injection of $387m (US). It started in the Sohar Industrial Area, near the Sohar Aluminum smelter. The National Bank of Oman along with Bank Dhofar contributed a loan at the value of $193m (US). This will provide part of the finance for the project.
So what will the project achieve, once it has been completed? It is hoped that Aluminum Rolling will be able to develop ‘light gauge’ coils, which will be user-friendly for all types of industries, such as foil, light industrial process, air conditioning, packaging and more. In addition, for the people of Oman, many more jobs will be created. During construction more than 1,000 will be needed and thereafter there will be 275 permanent jobs available. As well, as other industries start developing due to this project, even more jobs will be created. So there is much hope around for the people of Oman as this project gets underway.
A telecommunications company in the United Arab Emirates – Etisalat – was recently honored with three awards from the International Business Awards. Better known as the “Stevie’s,” getting even just one of these awards is an extremely prestigious achievement. But to get three is very impressive. Etisalat received awards for: the Best Chairman, Best Customer Care and the Most Innovative Company. Muhammad Omran took the award for Best Chairman (being the company’s chairman). And he certainly deserved it, given the fact that it has been under his leadership that the company’s customer base has escalated from 4 to 140 million since 2004 spanning 18 markets! As well, revenues have increased to $8.7bn within a four year period and between 2005-08 growth-rate increased 25 percent.
Next year sees a true celebration of children in Oman. To celebrate in style, there will be an Internet contest for kids, called ‘Sail with Colours’ to design a sail for a small dinghy sailboat – an RS Q’BA. This is being launched by Oman Sail for the Omani Year of Children, 2012.
Oman’s Maritime Heritage
The contest is aimed at increasing awareness for children on Oman’s maritime and seafaring heritage. It is the first action that has come forward in response to the announcement of the Year of Children 2012. Hopefully children in the region will want to show off their artistic talents and, at the same time, encourage them to participate in the upcoming sailing culture among the young people. Children between six and sixteen-years-old are invited to take part in the contest through Oman Sail’s FB page; it will be split into two contests, one for 6 to 11 year olds and the other for 12 to 16 year olds.
The winner of the competition will be used on a design for a sail of an RS Q’BA boat. As well, the sinner gets an actual RS Q’BA boat! Second prize is a weekend away at the Shangri-La Resort Spa as well as sailing lessons there (and a certificate); third prize is yet unknown (a surprise).
Focusing on Oman’s Youth
Oman is striving to focus on its youth, looking to the country’s future for potential. This project will be teaching them to sail through the company Oman Sail. Indeed, over 30,000 young Omanis will have the opportunity to learn this skill through its ‘Try Sailing’ program.
In order to strengthen the Sultanate’s construction industry, the role of its local stakeholders has to be boosted. It was the contractor/builder institute – the Oman Society of Contractors (OSC) – that made this suggestion. One way to actualize this is by promoting Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs) in the industry. A meeting was organized to discuss this matter. According to the CEO of Oman Society of Contractors, Mr. Salim Talib Al Sheedi, the meeting was meant to help work out how to achieve the objectives of the OSC to support construction companies in Oman.
This was the second meeting held in the series in the Sultanate. There was a proposal by the Tender Board to unite the SMEs as a way of beefing up their contribution to the national economy. In addition, it was suggested that part of the region’s building worked should be reserved for the SMEs working in that area. It also might be a good idea for small companies to form consortiums (band together) to beef up their profiles, which will make them more attractive as they will have more to offer, and this will result in them being more in the running for larger projects.
OSC Pushes for Better Standards
The OSC is always pushing for improved standards for the industry. It held policy dialogues with ministries as a way of trying to achieve a conducive and productive atmosphere in the building sector. The response to this was successful and resulted in greater participation from Oman-based companies.
For future improvements in the building sector, local companies that have the necessary skills need more encouragement so that they can face the global challenges that exist. Tender Board authorities have responded well to OSC’s requests. There is now work being done to reduce the dependency over international companies and give the Oman Construction Industry more capabilities with greater confidence.
Two new smartphones are being launched in Oman via Oman Mobile and Research In Motion. The BlackBerry® Torch™ 9860 and Torch 9810 are going to be available in Oman. They both have the BlackBerry® 7 operating system; a handset with all-touch; a huge 3.7” display and the perfect capacity for website, video, photo and gaming display. According to GM of Marketing at Omantel Consumer Business Unit, Saleem Ahmed Abdullatiff, the companies working on this project are delighted to be able to bring such sophistication to the Sultanate.
Out of all the Blackberry smartphones currently available on the market, these two for sure have the best features which are giving the manufacturers confidence that they will be very popular in the Oman mobile phone market. Those looking for faster browser features and improved quality screen display, will definitely be interested in the phones. As well, the price is reasonable, especially in comparison to other packages available.
Both phones are currently available in all Oman Mobile and Omantel stores.
The Omani Conference and Industry Ministry organized a new loans venture for small- and medium-sized enterprises through the SME’s Loans Guarantee Program. According to executive Eng. Ahmed bin Hassan al-Dheeb, there was an attempt to gain the support of the Small Business Administration through the Commerce and Industry Ministry. This followed various actions that were taken such as employee training at both the ministry and the banks which were all involved in the implementation of the program. In addition, when the National Business Centre hopefully begins work next year, it will make further recommendations to the bank and evaluate the various business proposals that come forth. The Oman banks that have already signed up to the program are: Oman Arab Bank, Bank Muscat and the Oman Development Bank.