Oman Enters New Millennium with Multi-Bill.-Dollar Projects

Article excerpt

It is my pleasure to share a few thoughts about my country with the readers of The Korea Times on the occasion of the 30th National Day of the Sultanate of Oman. This day has become memorable and full of happiness in the history of the people of Oman, which is celebrated throughout the Sultanate and various parts of the world by Oman citizens.

The Sultanate of Oman is entering the new millennium with a strong economic foundation developed over the last three decades under the able leadership of His Majesty the Sultan.

The private sector of Oman has been strengthened to enter the world economy in the next millennium. Thanks to His Majesty, a traditional society living from the sea and desert farming has been transformed into a modern state with a strong private sector. Capital market and private enterprise are the central pillars of the economic future of the Sultanate. The country is entering the new millennium with huge projects worth $8.75 billion in various stages of development. Upon completion, these projects are estimated to contribute more than $2.5 billion of annual revenue in the next millennium. The Vision 2020 plan has been implemented partially to achieve major goals in the next millennium.

Oman's industrial policy began in 1975 when the country was importing everything from matches to milk. From an import-substitution policy, the private sector industrial development is now focusing on an export-oriented growth. Between 1992 and 1997, the industrial output increased by 34 percent per annum. According to Robert Fleming, an international investment banker, manufacturing's share of Oman's GDP has risen from 4 percent to 5 percent. With availability of relatively cheap natural gas as energy following the commissioning of Oman LNG and other gas pipeline projects, the industrial sector is also expected to grow further in the years to come. The multi-billion-dollar Dolphin project covering a number of Middle East countries will be another factor deciding Oman's economic strength in the next millennium.

The Sultanate of Oman, which started modern development with oil resources, made considerable progress in diversifying the country's economy by developing new industrial and infrastructure projects. Apart from its oil wealth, Oman has been well prepared to enter the new millennium with a diversified economic base and its natural gas reserves, which will be a vital segment of the energy market in the new millennium. The country has also developed a strong service sector covering trade, transport and financial services.

Using the natural and human resources of the country, the private sector is playing a vital role in the national economy. With the proposed integration of the GCC markets into a global economy, Oman is poised to play an important role in future. This is the case with the formation of the Indian Ocean Rim Countries Association. In the next millennium, Oman is poised to play an important economic role in these two regional economic blocs.

During the last phase of the Five-Year-Plan (1995-2000), the Omani private sector has grown and achieved maturity. The combined efforts of the government and private sector resulted in satisfactory progress in an economic diversification strategy.

The government has been trying to encourage investment in the tourism sector as part of the economic diversification plan. A number of new projects in the tourism sector will attract more foreign tourists to Oman. The target is to get large number of tourists to Salalah, and other important places in Oman. In the next millennium, Oman like other countries is poised to became a regional tourism hub.

Oman completed a number of projects like the Salalah Port Services and the Oman LNG. Petrochemical, aluminum smelter and other projects have also made some headway despite some setbacks due to the fluid international market. …