Oman preparing for major economic reform

Muscat is following the same path as its Gulf neighbours in considering the effects to its economy in the last four years by declining oil prices and the need to diversify.
Sunday 10/02/2019
Omani Minister of Heritage and Culture and Chairman of the Main Committee for Oman Vision 2040 Haitham bin Tariq al-Said (C) attends a discussion young people during the Oman Vision 2040 National Conference. (Twitter)
Addressing challenges. Omani Minister of Heritage and Culture and Chairman of the Main Committee for Oman Vision 2040 Haitham bin Tariq al-Said (C) attends a discussion young people during the Oman Vision 2040 National Conference. (Twitter)

MUSCAT - The Oman Vision 2040 National Conference, which concluded its work January 28, was an important platform for finalising implementation of an ambitious strategy.

Omani officials and economists, along with Arab and foreign experts, discussed ideas that could develop over the next two decades by defining Oman’s objectives and designing implementation mechanisms.

Oman Vision 2040 would affect all aspects of life in Oman by diversifying revenue and moving from dependence on energy exports while strengthening the private sector in the economy.

Muscat is following the same path as its Gulf neighbours, especially Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates, in considering the effects to its economy in the last four years by declining oil prices and the need to diversify.

Sheikh Abdullah bin Salem al-Salemi, CEO of the Capital Market Authority, said the conference was convened to review the vision document developed after three years of study. “The draft document has toured all Omani governorates and interacted with all sectors of society, such as institutions of higher education, civil society, private sector institutions and others,” Salemi said.

Salemi headed the Economic and Development Committee for Vision 2040, through which Muscat hopes to reach an annual growth rate of about 6% of GDP by 2040, be among the top 20 countries in the world economically and within the top ten countries commercially.

The conference is among steps in preparing the vision document. It is to enhance community participation in the plan, discuss its features and review international best practices to develop long-term strategies.

Related activities at the conference included an exhibition of development projects being implemented in line with Omani Vision 2040 to promote investment and improve conditions for private sector activities.

A forum involved 350 young people from various Omani governorates and 50 other Arab youths living in Oman in proposing ideas and initiatives that can contribute to achieving the vision’s goals.

At the opening of the conference, Haitham bin Tariq al-Said, Omani minister of heritage and culture and chairman of the main committee for Oman Vision 2040, said: “The committee was keen on having all sectors of the society and all the governorates represented and contributing in the preparation of the vision project as a key partner in the formulation of priorities and aspirations.”

He added that committees and task forces had begun to define aspects of the plan to create a framework to organise the work. Those bodies assessed the situation and began “preparing future scenarios based on a clear understanding of the interdependence of social, economic and cultural variables in the sultanate with the engines of change globally,” he said.

The first session addressed challenges, such as increased migration, facing the government and working towards finding solutions to them. The session reviewed challenges faced by the Omani judiciary, including the process of enacting laws.

Discussion sessions during the conference included agendas focusing on the role of the private sector in Omani Vision 2040 and managing change and how to positively influence human behaviour.

A third session considered economic cooperation and integration and its importance for realising the vision while another reviewed international best practices in designing national visions and priorities.

Talal al-Rahbi, deputy secretary-general of the Supreme Council of Planning, said the main objectives of Vision 2040 were to double the annual income of the Omani citizens and to increase the contribution of non-oil sectors to the GDP to 93%.

He pointed out that the plan aims to achieve a ratio of 10% of foreign investments to GDP and increase the share of the local workforce in jobs created in the private sector to 42%.

Rahbi said 22,000 people, including from civil society institutions, governorates, municipal councils and the government sector, participated directly in preparation of the vision.

18