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Celebrating 35 years of The Renaissance

VIEWS: 6 PAGES: 6

									                                           Economy Page 2                                                                           Telecoms Page 5                                                                           Tourism Page 6
                                            Diversification to                                                                      A fully liberalized                                                                       Several mega-projects
                                            lessen economic                                                                         telecoms market with                                                                      are under way for
                                            dependence on oil and                                                                   leading cellphone                                                                         visitors to experience a
                                            partnerships beckon                                                                     operators setting up                                                                      safe and peaceful
                                            with a U.S. free trade                                                                  and Omantel’s recent                                                                      destination with visual
                                            agreement                                                                               record-breaking IPO                                                                       and cultural offerings




                                 OurWorld
  This supplement to USA TODAY was produced by United World LTD.: 4410 Massachusetts Ave NW, Washington - DC 20016 - Tel: 1-202.347.9022 - Fax: 1-202.347.9025 - www.unitedworld-usa.com

                                                                                              THURSDAY, DECEMBER 15, 2005




Oman
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          THE COUNTRY
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                 IN FIGURES




Celebrating
35 years of ‘The                                                                                                                                                                                                                     q COUNTRY NAME:
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                     Sultanate of Oman

Renaissance’                                                                                                                                                                               The Sultan’s extensive
                                                                                                                                                                                       modernization program has
                                                                                                                                                                                             led to unprecedented
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                     q CAPITAL: Muscat
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                     q AREA: 82,031 sq miles
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                     q POPULATION:

Transformed into a modern and stable                                                                                                                                                         development and the                     3,001,585 (July 2005 est.)
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                     q LANGUAGES: Arabic
model for Middle Eastern countries, the                                                                                                                                                  emergence of an oasis of
                                                                                                                                                                                                good governance.                     (official), English, Baluchi,
Sultanate is open for global business                                                                                                                                                                                                Urdu, Indian dialects
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                     q RELIGIONS: Ibadhi

                     WHEN His               cameral legislature and bars min-             investment. The nation’s indus-              dal state engulfed in civil war to            Qaboos in a speech to open the                  Muslim, Sunni Muslim,
                     Majesty Sultan         isters from holding interests in com-         trial development plans current-             a modern and stable model for                 annual session of the Council of                Shi’a Muslim, Hindu
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                     q CURRENCY: Omani rial
                     Qaboos bin             panies doing business with the                ly center on gas resources, metal            Middle Eastern countries. In par-             Oman last October.
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                     q GDP - purchasing power
                     Said ascended          government. It also guarantees ba-            manufacturing, petrochemicals,               ticular the development of its hu-              “We urge our Omani youths,
to the throne 35 years ago this year,       sic civil liberties for Omani citizens        and international transshipment              man resources, or ‘Omanization’               both male and female, to take ad-               parity: $38.09 billion
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                     q GDP - real growth rate:
a new era of democratic action was          regardless of gender, making Oman             ports. Enjoying one of the most              as it is known, through training in           vantage of these opportunities and
inaugurated in the oil-rich Sul-            an oasis of good governance in the            stable economies in the Middle               various fields, including infor-              endeavor to settle in an available              1.2% (2004 est.)
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                     q GDP - per capita:
tanate. During the British-educat-          Arabian Peninsula and throughout              East, the Sultanate boasts notable           mation technology and business                job in order to gain the experience
ed Sultan’s reign, all areas of Omani       the entire Middle East.                       oil and gas resources, a huge trade          management.                                   and skills that will be of mutual               $13,100 (2004 est.)
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                     q INDUSTRIES:
society have experienced un-                    The Sultan’s extensive mod-               surplus, and low inflation.                     “As long as society succeeds               benefit and in the public inter-
precedented development. In 1996,           ernization program has opened                    As Oman celebrates the 35th               in raising, developing, qualify-              est,” H.M. Sultan Qaboos added.                 crude oil production and
H.M. Sultan Qaboos issued a roy-            Oman to the outside world. Mem-               anniversary of His Majesty’s rule,           ing, training, enhancing skills               “This will show that the Omani                  refining, natural and liquefied
al decree putting into effect a ba-         ber of the World Trade Organi-                often referred to as ‘The Renais-            and diversifying the experience               worker is serious, dedicated, punc-             natural gas (LNG)
sic statute for Oman that the               zation, the country is committed              sance’, all eyes are on him to see           of its human resources, success               tual and capable of shouldering                 production, construction,
government considers to be a con-           to liberalizing its markets, priva-           if the leader can continue to build          is guaranteed in building a mod-              responsibilities. Only through this             cement, copper, steel,
stitution. This law provides for a          tizing its utilities and diversify-           on his successes, having trans-              ern state with progress in all as-            will the Omanization policies and               chemicals, optic fiber
prime minister, establishes a bi-           ing its economy to attract foreign            formed the Sultanate from a feu-             pects of life,” said H.M. Sultan              plans bear fruit.”                               Source: CIA- The World Factbook




                                                                     A new chapter has begun
                                                                     Modernization, development, progress. The pillars of Oman’s economic policy that have seen it grow
                                                                     into a dynamic, forward-looking nation on the world stage. Under the visionary leadership of His
                                                                     Majesty Sultan Qaboos bin Said, Oman has taken on every challenge and emerged with flying colors.

                                                                     Thirty-five years of achievement…the future holds infinite possibilities. And, at every step of the way,
                                                                     your vision continues to inspire us.

                                                                     Warmest congratulations to His Majesty Sultan Qaboos bin Said and the people of Oman
                                                                     on the occasion of National Day.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                    w w w. b a n k m u s c a t . c o m
   BankMuscat (SAOG) is the largest banking entity in Oman, with a strong presence in corporate banking, retail banking, investment banking, treasury, private banking and asset management. The bank has a network of 90 branches in Oman and a representative office in
   Dubai (UAE). The bank has also acquired a strategic stake in Centurion Bank, a new generation private sector bank in the Republic of India, and has launched BankMuscat International (BMI), an independent bank headquartered in the Kingdom of Bahrain.


Our World Insert is produced by United World. USA TODAY did not participate in its preparation and is not responsible for its content
Distributed by USA TODAY                                                                              Our World                                                                                  Thursday, December 15, 2005                          2

INTERNATIONAL RELATIONS Renowned for a welcoming investment climate and long-established overseas par tnerships


Free trade agreement with
the U.S. to further alliances
Oman’s high quality WTO accession opened the door to international negotiations
s THE SULTANATE of Oman’s               coastal nations whose trade de-       ate a free trade agreement with a       where Americans are very good,”
centuries-old seafaring history has     pended greatly on seafaring and       country unless they are really in       says H.E. Maqbool Ali Sultan,
given the country valuable expe-        maritime trade. They are both pro-    an advanced stage of preparation,       Minister of Commerce and In-
rience when it comes to develop-        ducers as well as importers, and      and that is absolutely the case in      dustry, Chairman of the Oman
ing its relations with other states.    share a philosophy based on free      Oman,” Mr. Snowden says. “It is         Oil Company and OCIPED.                                   H.E. YOUSUF BIN ALAWI                      H.E. MAQBOOL ALI
Its proximity to Asian, African,        and open trade,” says Mr. Snow-       a country that has earned its rep-         “Another area is information                                BIN ABDULLAH                                SULTAN
and Eastern markets has made            den, who highly rates the gener-      utation for stability, for modera-      technology. We have built the                              Minister Responsible for                  Minister of Commerce
Oman a desirable friend to have         al investment climate in Oman.        tion, and for being a welcoming         Knowledge Oasis Muscat, I.T.                                    Foreign Affairs                           & Industry
in the Middle East.                        The Sultanate’s very high qual-    climate for foreign nationals. I        houses, I.T. colleges, incubator
   Trade relations between Oman         ity accession to the World Trade      think all of this is generally well-    centers, call centers, and other I.T.              zation. H.M. Sultan Qaboos has                So, our support of the peace
and the United States, whose trad-      Organization in 2000 opened the       recognized in the commercial            activities. Again, these are areas                 stressed the importance of inter-             process in the Middle East falls
ing principles and philosophies         door to serious free trade negoti-    community, and companies do             where American companies and                       national relations since day one of           within this realm. We wish to see
are quite similar, go back to the       ations between Washington and         take that into consideration.”          Omani companies can jointly ven-                   his 35-year reign.                            the Middle East stable and living
18th century, notes Michael Snow-       Muscat. In October of this year the      A large number of billion-dol-       ture,” the minister says.                             “I expect our role in interna-             in peace because it is one of the
den, First Secretary and Chief Po-      Administration informed Con-          lar gas-based projects are under-          Oman has bilateral relations                    tional diplomacy to remain ac-                major pillars for more growth in
litical-Economic Section at the         gress of its intent to enter into a   way, which in turn will spur many       with more than 134 nations, and                    tive. The target is to contribute to          the economy,” notes H.E. Yousuf
U.S. Embassy in Oman.                   free trade agreement with Oman.       medium-scale industries, such as        is a member of nearly every in-                    peace and stability in the imme-              bin Alawi bin Abdullah, Minister
   “Both the U.S. and Oman were            “We do not even try to negoti-     plastics and chemicals. “Areas          ternational and regional organi-                   diate regional areas and beyond.              Responsible for Foreign Affairs.

ECONOMY Heading toward multi-faceted enterprise with international standards                                                                                                                  ENERGY



Diversifying the economy and                                                                                                                                                        Petrochemical projects
                                                                                                                                                                                    intrinsic to future vision
involving the private sector                                                                                                                                                        s OMAN’S oil and gas sector
                                                                                                                                                                                    accounts for 90% of the coun-
                                                                                                                                                                                    try’s income. Petroleum Devel-
Plans are in place                                                                                                                                                                  opment Oman (PDO), the major
                                                                                                                                                                                    exploration and production com-
to lessen Oman’s                                                                                                                                                                    pany in the Sultanate, accounts
dependence on oil                                                                                                                                                                   for 93% of the country's crude
as its main source                                                                                                                                                                  oil production and nearly all of
                                                                                                                                                                                    its natural gas supply. The gov-
of income and to                                                                                                                                                                    ernment has a 60% stake in the
develop other                                                                                                                                                                       company, with the Royal
areas of great                                                                                                                                                                      Dutch/Shell Group the next
                                                                                                                                                                                    largest shareholder having 34%
potential, including                                                                                                                                                                ownership, while France’s To-        KHALIFA BIN MUBARAK
privatization                                                                                                                                                                       tal and Oman’s Partex own a 4%           BIN ALI AL-HINAI
                                                                                                                                                                                    and 2% interest respectively.          Technical Advisor to the
s ALTHOUGH Oman is cur-                                                                                                                                                                Although oil remains the             Minister of Oil & Gas
rently enjoying a booming econ-                                                                                                                                                     backbone of the Omani econo-
omy thanks to high oil prices, the                                                                                                                                                  my, in recent years more em- the world and one of the fastest
government is well aware that                                                                                                                                                       phasis has been placed on to come on stream – less than
global crude prices are anything                                                                                                                                                    liquefied natural gas (LNG) and nine years from the major dis-
but stable. In a bid to negate the                                                                                                                                                  other downstream industries in covery of gas. Oman LNG is
lean years, H.M. Sultan Qaboos                                                                                                                                                      a bid to meet the government’s now eyeing the lucrative U.S.
engineered a series of five-year de-                                                                                                                                                call to lessen the nation’s de- market.
velopment plans in the mid-1970s                                                                                                                                                    pendence on oil.                      “The United States is import-
to diversify the economy, improve                                                                                                                                                      “With more emphasis on gas ing more and more gas in the form
infrastructure, upgrade workers’                                                                                                                                                    exploration and production, the of LNG and Oman LNG is strate-
skills and foster a competitive pri-                                                                                                                                                Ministry of Oil and Gas went on gically well-placed to be able to
vate sector-led economy.                                                                                                                                                            to set up Oman LNG, the flag- serve all markets worldwide,Asia,
   “The idea is to boost the sectors                                                                                                                                                ship company of the country op- Europe, and the United States,
                                                                                                                                                              OMAN LNG




that might implement the policy of                                                                                                                                                  erated by PDO,                                  and we would like to
diversifying the economy to lessen                                                                                                                                                  which began pro-            Increasing          be the major player in
our dependence on one source,                                                                                                                                                       duction and ex- attention is being this market,” explains
which is oil. We want to develop        An effect of Omanization is a highly skilled workforce in manufacturing, I.T. and business management.                                      portation in 2000.       paid to Oman’s Dr. Agnus Cassens,
other sectors of great potential,                                                                                                                                                   Today, the com- huge gas reserves General Manager and
such as tourism, minerals, gas, fish-                                            “Right now, we are looking for       opportunities for American com-                               pany brings in an and development CEO of Oman LNG.
eries, human resources, as well as                                            the private sector’s involvement        panies in our privatization pro-                              annual income of                                  Oman is also en-
                                                                                                                                                                                                                 potential
privatization and enhancing the                                               in activities besides just banking,     jects as well as general projects,                            about a billion                                 couraging major petro-
policy of foreign investment here                                             manufacturing and infrastructure.       which will be supported by the                                dollars, which is substantial in chemical projects in the country
in Oman,” explains Minister of In-                                            Our immediate plans are to pri-         government, especially in the                                 the economy of the country,” in its bid to diversify. One such
formation H.E. Hamed bin Mo-                                                  vatize the existing assets owned        tourism sector,” he adds.                                     says Khalifa bin Mubarak bin Ali project is the Sohar Refinery,
hammed Al Rashdi.                                                             by the government in production            Oman’s Tender Board is an in-                              Al-Hinai, Technical Advisor to which will have a crude unit ca-
   Omani leaders project that by                                              facilities. The next step will be       dependent entity that oversees the                            the Minister of Oil & Gas.          pacity of 116,400 barrels per day,
the year 2020 the country will no                                             privatizing the distribution and        tendering and the procurement                                    Oman’s LNG project forms much of which will be earmarked
longer rely on oil as its main source                                         the transmissions networks,” says       processes of the government while                             an integral part of the Sultanate’s for export.
of revenue. The Sultanate’s Vi-                                               Mohammed A. Al Mahrouqi, Di-            enforcing public disclosure to en-                            economic vision for the future.       “In the design of this refinery,
sion 2020 charter outlines the pol-                                           rector General for Private Sector       sure transparency in all bids, ac-                            It was not only the biggest sin- we made sure that the product
icy priorities to be completed in                                             Affairs.                                cording to H.E. Sultan Bin                                    gle construction project ever quality could be traded around
order to meet that challenge. Many                                               “The government has put in           Hamdoun Al Harthi, Secretary                                  undertaken in the country, but the world,” notes Yacoub Yousif
of these include strategies im-                                               place a very comprehensive reg-         General of the Tender Board.                                  also one of the                     Bilal, CEO of the Sohar Refin-
plemented in the five-year de-              H.E. HAMED BIN                    ulatory framework in order to              “As for international bidders,                             largest in                          ery Company.
velopment plans, especially the          MOHAMMED AL RASHDI                   make sure that the rights of the pri-   the application of international
effort to broaden private sector          Minister of Information             vate sectors are protected as well      standards similar to the applica-
participation.                                                                as the customers’. There are many       ble laws of the EU and the Unit-
                                                                                                                                                                         OMAN LNG




                                                                                                                      ed States adds flexibility and
                                                                                                                      accessibility to a highly transpar-
                                                                                                                      ent process. The board constant-
                                                                                                                      ly upgrades and revises its
                                                                                                                      regulations and procedures, keep-
                                                                                                                      ing up with developments in the
                                                                                                                      rest of the world and responding
                                                                                                                      to technological advances. Cur-
                                                                                                                      rently, the government is estab-
                                                                                                                      lishing e-tendering systems as part                Oman LNG generates an annual income of around $1 billion and
                                                                                                                      of its e-government policy.”                       has plans of global exportation, particularly to the U.S.




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                                                                                                                      ability to create wealth for clients,“ we at Vision have             P.O. Box 712, Al Hamriya, P.C. 131, Sultanate of Oman,
                                                                                                                      constantly endeavored to identify and capitalize on                  Phone: (968) 24708088, Fax: (968) 24708099,
                                                                                                                      investment opportunities for our clients.                            E-mail: vision@visioninvestco.com
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Our World Insert is produced by United World. USA TODAY did not participate in its preparation and is not responsible for its content
3   Thursday, December 15, 2005                                                                   Our World                                                                                          Distributed by USA TODAY


ENTERPRISE Proving all that glitters is not oil                                                                              BUSINESS


                                                                                                                    Endless possibilities fertilize potential
Commerce and trade                                                                                                  for Suhail Bahwan Group
following the                                                                                                      s FORTYYEARS ago Sheikh
                                                                                                                   Suhail Salim Bahwan opened up
                                                                                                                   a small trading company in
                                                                                                                                                                                                     ther increase the opportunities for
                                                                                                                                                                                                     trade and cooperation between the
                                                                                                                                                                                                     two countries. I am working to-


scent of success
                                                                                                                   Oman. The business was mod-                                                       wards increasing our partnerships
                                                                                                                   erately successful and provided                                                   with the United States. There are
                                                                                                                   the Sheikh with a good living for                                                 some companies which we are al-
                                                                                                                   a few years until His Majesty                                                     ready in touch with. For the last 30
                                                                                                                   Sultan Qaboos took over the                                                       years, we have been dealing with
Actively encouraging                                                                                               throne and shifted the govern-                                                    American companies and we have
people to take a                                                                                                   ment’s priorities to infrastructure                                               excellent relations with them,”
                                                                                                                   development.                                                                      Sheikh Suhail explains.
closer look at the                                                                                                    “So I started to focus on those                                                   The Suhail Bahwan Group is
world’s most                                                                                                       areas too,” says Sheikh Bahwan.                                                   setting up a $650 million fertil-
valuable perfume                                                                                                   “If you look at Oman 30 or 35                                                     izer project that it is financing
                                                                                                                   years ago, it was a small econo-          SHEIKH SUHAIL SALIM                     entirely on its own. “The entire
and the diverse                                                                                                    my and if you wanted to create                  BAHWAN                            production of the fertilizer pro-
range of activities                                                                                                a stable group with consistent              Chairman of Suhail                    ject during the first 10 years has
of the company                                                                                                     growth, you had to diversify, so              Bahwan Group                        already been sold to an Ameri-
                                                                                                                   I did. Initially I was in trading au-                                             can company. So we have a close
behind it                                                                                                          tomobiles, electronics and so on,       ogy, financial services, shipping,        relationship with the U.S. al-
                                                                                                                   because it was all required in          tourism and a host of related in-         ready and that will continue to
s OILis not Oman’s only essence,                                                                                   Oman. Then as the possibilities         dustries. It employs more than            grow as the trade grows between
nor is it the most expensive or                                                                                    came for construction, I set up a       10,000 people directly and indi-          the two countries,” he notes.
most famous. Oil may be the spark                                                                                  construction company. Possibil-         rectly and is also at the cutting            Sheikh Suhail is quick to point
that drives the global economy, but                                                                                ities came for engineering, so I        edge of the Sultanate's privati-          out that his love for Oman and
Amouage, the fragrance that sym-                                                                                   set up an engineering company,          zation initiatives.                       his strong religious beliefs are
bolizes Omani quality, ignites pas-                                                                                and again for operation and main-          Sheikh Suhail is also Chairman         the driving forces behind his suc-
sions worldwide.                                                                                                   tenance of power plants. All this       of the National Bank of Oman,             cessful businesses.
   Once reserved as a gift for kings                                                                               was done step-by-step, and I can-       which has one of the highest cap-             “I believe that we must de-
and presidents from Omani roy-                                                                                     not say that one business has been      ital adequacy ratios in the Middle        liver what we promise to our
alty, ‘the most valuable perfume        Amouage, the fragrance that symbolizes Omani quality, is not just          more challenging than others.           East at 25%. He is a fervent sup-         customers, we must comply
in the world’is now sold at the best    reserved for royalty, being available in some 30 countries worldwide.      But if you look at the future, my       porter of Oman’s global trading           with the highest standards of
perfumeries in some 30 countries,                                                                                  focus and investments will be in        initiatives through its member-           corporate governance, things
with a new country being added          emotion, was named “Star Prod- lion, explains Saibal Sen, Sabco            manufacturing and industry.”            ship in institutions such as the          must be done in a professional
every three or four months, says        uct of the Year” in the Tax-Free Group’s Chief Advisor. “Basical-             Today the Suhail Bahwan              Gulf Cooperation Council and the          and efficient manner, we must
Amouage Managing Director               World Exhibition in Cannes in ly, we are into manufacturing, the           Group is one of the Sultanate’s         World Trade Organization, and             be sensitive towards the envi-
Chandra Lahiri.                         1991. It is the only product from services sector and real estate. We      largest and most diversified busi-      through bilateral trade agreements,       ronment and always be a good
   “People find it a bit scary to ap-   outside Europe, the United States are currently looking for partners       ness conglomerates and is               such as the one imminent with             corporate citizen.
proach, because they think that it      or Japan to have won the award. who can give us technical know-            worth circa $1 billion. The ac-               the United States.                     “As an individual, I believe
is way beyond them. Our biggest           “We were very pleasantly sur- how and expertise more than cash           tivities of the group’s 35                             “I believe that the free   that in accordance with my reli-
challenge is to persuade people to      prised to be informed                           investments. Cash is       companies encompass                                          trade agreement      gion, I must set aside a portion
come close to it and see it; it is      that we had won. We       “An award is          readily available here     trading, engineering,                                                will fur-    of my wealth to be utilized for
not necessarily just for royalty. Of    are by far the small- nice at any time, so the real challenge              automobiles, con-                                                                 charitable purposes by provid-
course, it is a very exclusive prod-    est brand that has but an award in is finding the knowl-                   sumer products,                                                                   ing housing, medical treatment
uct, a very expensive and ultra-lux-    dared to enter that        France for a         edge required to pro-      food, health                                                                      and sustenance to the needy. I
ury product and in that sense it is     competition. An          perfume is the duce products that are             care, infor-                                                                      would like to leave behind an in-
not for everyone. But we active-        award is nice at any         ultimate”          globally competitive.”     mation                                                                            stitution that will maintain such
ly encourage people to take a clos-     time, but an award in                              The Zubair Cor-         technol-                                                                          charitable activities on a contin-
er look and experience it, and to       France for a perfume is the ulti- poration is another successful                                                                                             uous basis. I would like this to
see what it is all about. It is per-    mate. That was something spe- Omani entity that proves that                                                                                                  be my legacy.”
sonalized and customized to such        cial,” Mr. Lahiri says.            all that glitters in Oman is not
an extent that Amouage is not just        Amouage is a subsidiary of the oil, having participated in many                                                                                            One of the Sultanate’s largest
a product, it is an experience.”        Sabco group of wholly owned infrastructure, tourism and in-                                                                                                  business groups with 35
   Amouage, an Arabic word              Omani companies that has an an- dustrial projects in the Sultanate.                                                                                          companies in diverse
meaning “waves”, as in waves of         nual turnover of around $300 mil- It has been involved in projects                                                                                           activities.
                                                                           ranging from the construction of
                                                                           major buildings to the devel-
                                                                           opment of the country’s road-
                                                                           ways, from setting up mammoth
                                                                           electricity generating stations
                                                                           to commissioning major ship-
                                                                           ping ports.
                                                                             Currently Zubair is betting
                                                                           strongly on the Sultanate’s
                                                                           tourism sector with a 60% stake
                                                                           in the Barr Al Jissah project.
                                                                           Khalid Al-Zubair, Managing
                                                                           Director of Business Develop-
                                                                           ment says, “It is one of the most
                                                                           important projects for us and at
  KHALID AL-ZUBAIR                            CHANDRA LAHIRI               the same time it has given a lot
MD of Business Development                     Managing Director           of confidence to others. People
   Zubair Corporation                      Amouage (Sabco Group)           know it, but they need to see
                                                                           something for them to start.”


BANKING Vibrant activity in recent years and large-scale mergers have established a solid financial platform


Financial sector core to Sultanate’s growth
Maintaining financial equilibrium and economic stability                                                                                                                                             ly. The internationalization of
                                                                                                                                                                                                     all these economies is happen-
has encouraged confidence and transparency in a banking                                                                                                                                              ing very rapidly. The banking
sector with increased capabilities                                                                                                                                                                   system and the banks have to en-
                                                                                                                                                                                                     hance and increase their deliv-
s OMAN’S banking sector is                Economic growth in the Sul-       want to have bigger competitive                                                                                          ery, and their products must be
the centerpiece of H.M. Sultan          tanate beginning in 1970            banks with more capabilities in                                                                                          on a par with those of interna-
Qaboos’ efforts to privatize            sparked a need for more bank-       order to serve the economic de-                                                                                          tional banks. We are moving at
state-owned industries and to           ing services and several insti-     velopment requirements of the                                                                                            200 miles an hour to do that,”
diversify the economy away              tutions sprung up to fill the       country. BankMuscat, the Sul-                                                                                            says Andrew Duff, CEO Na-
from its dependence on oil. It          gap. Currently there are five       tanate’s largest bank, is the re-                                                                                        tional Bank of Oman (NBO).
also plays a key role in the dri-       local banks, which are national     sult of about seven or eight                                                                                                The NBO, one of the largest
ve for Omanization in the coun-         banks with local sharehold-         mergers.                                                                                                                 banks in Oman, recently
try’s workforce and to sharpen          ers, and nine branches of for-        “Now, we can feel proud that                                                                                           formed a strategic alliance with
the Sultanate’s competitive edge        eign banks, explains H.E.           we have well-established banks                                                                                           the Commercial Bank of Qatar,
within the Mid-                                                                             of appropriate        H.E. HAMOOD SANGOUR                            ANDREW DUFF                         which purchased a 34.9% stake
dle East and                                                                                size. The five lo-           AL-ZADJALI                                   CEO                            in NBO.
North Africa re-                                                                            cal banks con-            Executive President                         National Bank                         “I was previously in the
                                                                                                                    Central Bank of Oman                            of Oman
gion (MENA),                                                                                trol about 90%                                                                                           Commercial Bank of Qatar and
the Gulf Coop-                                                                              of the banking                                                                                           certainly its board believes
eration Council                                                                             activities in the    Al-Zadjali points out.            el of Omanization for other sec-                  Oman is an attractive place to
(GCC) and in-                                                                               country, with the      Oman’s three specialist banks, tors of the economy. By the end                    invest. Many Gulf-based in-
deed world-                                                                                 foreign banks        Oman Housing Bank, Oman of 2003, Omanization levels                                 vestors share this view. The
wide.                                                                                       controlling the      Development Bank
  With the Cen-                                                                             remaining 10%.       and the Alliance
                                                                                                                                                                    reached 89.9%
                                                                                                                                        Internationalization had the CBO and
                                                                                                                                                               in
                                                                                                                                                                                                     feverish economic activity be-
                                                                                                                                                                                                     ing experienced on the other
tral Bank of                                                                                  “The banks         Housing Bank,              of the Gulf        91.7% in the com-                     side of the Gulf peninsula will
Oman (CBO)                                                                                  have difficulties    have also played a        economies is        mercial and special-                  undoubtedly move to Oman,”
acting as watchdog and guide,            By mid-2005, the collective        whenever the oil prices go           vital role in the Sul- happening rapidly ist banks.                                 says Mr. Duff.
Oman’s commercial and spe-               profits in the banking sector      down as people’s confidence          tanate’s growth with prospects of                The next big chal-                    “NBO is benefiting particu-
cialist banks have succeeded in             had risen by over 25%.          gets shaken. But in the last few     ever since they a single currency lenge for the bank-                               larly from the products of the
maintaining financial equilib-                                              years, the banking sector has        were established in                           ing sector will likely                Commercial Bank of Qatar. For
rium and economic stability             Hamood Sangour Al-Zadjali,          been very vibrant and results        the 1970s to support develop- be to prepare for the GCC’s plan                      example, the capital market area
while encouraging confidence            Executive President of the          are improving. By the middle         ment efforts in key sectors such to have a single currency in the                   of Commercial Bank has a wider
and transparency in banking op-         Central Bank of Oman.               of this year, the banking sec-       as housing, industry and agri- region by the year 2010.                             range of products than NBO, so
erations in every sector of the           “We have been really push-        tor’s profits had risen by more      culture. Meanwhile, the entire       “We are aware of the fact that                 we are gaining from their expe-
economy.                                ing for mergers because we          than 25% collectively,” H.E.         banking sector has been a mod- the Gulf is growing very quick-                      rience,” he concludes.

Our World Insert is produced by United World. USA TODAY did not participate in its preparation and is not responsible for its content
Distributed by USA TODAY                                                                         Our World                                                      Thursday, December 15, 2005                        4

THE NATION’S largest bank with assets wor th more than $4.8 billion                                                                                   CAPITAL MARKETS




BankMuscat became the first bank from the GCC region and the first organization from the Sultanate to debut on the London Stock Exchange.           The Muscat stock exchange (MSM) is growing rapidly due to the
                                                                                                                                                    country’s extremely dynamic economy.



BankMuscat: by far the most                                                                                                                         A nation prepared to offer
                                                                                                                                                    investors a myriad of
important bank in Oman                                                                                                                              quality investment options
BankMuscat is no stranger to awards. On the                                                                     growth and strong showing that      s THE SULTANATEof Oman
                                                                                                                both the national and regional      boasts a thriving, well-regulat-
contrary, they have been named ‘Best Bank                                                                       economies have been witnessing      ed financial services industry
in Oman’ four times by The Banker and five                                                                      over the past years,” he adds.      comprised of large local, com-
times by Global Finance and Euromoney                                                                              BankMuscat has received          mercial and specialized banks,
                                                                                                                many international awards for       non-banking financial institu-
s INVESTORS seeking a                Oman and a representative office                                           its achievements. Global Finance    tions and international banks,
foothold in Oman as a Middle         in Dubai, UAE. It has a strate-                                            magazine has ranked it as the       both from across the region and
Eastern springboard to Europe,       gic stake in Centurion Bank, a                                             ‘Best Bank in Oman’ five years      beyond. The Muscat Securities
Asia and Australia would be wise     new private sector bank in India,                                          in a row, and Euromoney has         Market (MSM), created in the
to seek out a knowledgeable fi-      an emerging economic power-                                                presented the organization with     late 1980s, has become one of
nancial institution in the Sul-      house. Recently, it has set up                                             its ‘Best Bank in Oman 2005’        the most transparent and high-
tanate with experience in the        BankMuscat International, an in-                                           award. The Banker, Business To-     ly regarded stock markets in the
region and the clout to bring a      dependent banking entity in                                                day and JP Morgan Chase have        region. With the stock market,
wide range of projects to com-       Bahrain. It has also been given                                            also recognized BankMuscat          the Capital Markets Authority
pletion. Most look toward            approval in principle by the Cen-     SHEIK ABDULMALIK BIN                 with top awards.                    of Oman, the Muscat Deposi-         ALI MOHAMMED JUMA,
BankMuscat, the largest banking      tral Bank of Oman to explore the      ABDULLAH AL-KHALILI                     “We believe it is very impor-    tory and Securities Registra-              CEO of Vision
entity in Oman with a strong         possibility of setting up opera-       Chairman of BankMuscat              tant for the bank to be recog-      tion Company, and Vision                Investment Services
presence in corporate banking,       tions in Kuwait and Qatar.                                                 nized by others. Such awards are    Investment Services, Oman
retail banking, investment bank-        “We also have a license to set    Abdullah Al-Khalili.                  a definite vote of confidence and   now has the tools to provide the increased the nation’s invest-
ing, treasury, private banking and   up banking operations in the             After chalking up a first quar-   are very well accepted by our       investor community in the Sul- ment awareness and encouraged
asset management.                    Kingdom of Saudi Arabia and a        ter net rise in profits of 47% this   customers, correspondent banks      tanate with quality investment direct distribution of wealth to
  BankMuscat has a network of        finance company in the UAE.          year, BankMuscat has gone on          and colleagues, both in Oman        options.                           the country.
90 branches in                       Both operations are likely to get    to record an impressive net prof-     and the other countries in which       Oman’s capital market is cur-     “Apart from this, privatiza-
                                     underway during the course of        it increase of 39% during the first   we operate,” Sheikh AbdulMa-        rently abuzz with the IPO of tion upgrades the quality of ser-
                                          2006. The bank is focused on    nine months of 2005 over the          lik says.                           Oman Telecommunications vice, facilitates competition and
                                           becoming one of the fore-      same period a year ago. In-              BankMuscat’s contribution to     Company (Omantel), which sent increases market activities that
                                                     most establish-      creasing its net profits from $63.7   Omani society has also been rec-    a message to in-                              will lead to a boost
                                                                                                                                                                               The MSM is
                                                     ments across the     million to $88.4 million, it has      ognized with several prestigious    ternational in-                               in the economy,” Mr.
                                                     region by the turn   thereby consolidated its position     awards, including Oman’s “Peo-      vestors that Oman recognized as the Juma explains.
                                                     of the decade,”      as Oman’s leading bank.               ple Development Award” in 2003      is committed to           region’s most          As far as Vision
                                                     e x p l a i n s          “Historically, BankMuscat has     and 2004.                           privatization.          progressive and Investment Services’
                                                     BankMuscat           had a growth of almost 20% per           “Omanization is a key na-           “The Omantel          best regulated own growth strate-
                                                     Chairman Sheikh      year for the last 10 or 15 years      tional objective, which we be-      IPO can really add       capital markets gy is concerned, Mr.
                                                     AbdulMalik bin       and so our third-quarter results      lieve is very important. As the     to the market’s ac-                           Juma says it is based
                                                                          this year should be seen as a con-    nation’s largest bank, we have      tivities and to the market itself, on viewing each investment op-
                                                     BankMuscat           tinuation of this trend,” notes       a duty to provide quality em-       both in its liquidation and by its portunity independently. “Our
                                                     has a strong         Sheikh AbdulMalik, who cred-          ployment opportunities to the       contribution,” says Abdullah bin structured investment model is
                                                     presence in          its his management and staff as       talented youth of the country.      Salem Al-Salmi, Chairman of based on in-depth research, tak-
                                                     retail, private,     well as customer loyalty for the      Omanization ensures that each       Muscat Securities Market.          ing into consideration the mar-
                                                     corporate, and       bank’s success.                       one of us play our part in the         Ali Mohammed Juma, CEO ket scenarios, historical
                                                     investment               “What has also definitely         process,” Sheikh AbdulMalik         of Vision Investment Services background and management
                                                     banking.             helped us in this process is the      concludes.                          Company, says that the IPO has style among other criteria.”




Our World Insert is produced by United World. USA TODAY did not participate in its preparation and is not responsible for its content
5    Thursday, December 15, 2005                                                                      Our World                                                                                   Distributed by USA TODAY


 TELECOMMUNICATIONS Establishing a vital link with the rest of the world, giving rise to countless new investment opportunities


A new, open telecoms market for the people
The country has undergone serious                                                                                     ting up of a regulatory body, name-   Ericsson’s Peter Andersson, Gen-      ployed in Oman was an Ericsson
changes in the fields of I.T. and tele-                                                                               ly the Telecommunications Reg-        eral Manager, Technical Office        NMT 450 analog system.
                                                                                                                      ulatory Authority. “We were doing     Oman. “We are the sole supplier           “In our global strategy, we are
communications during the last decade                                                                                 the regulations before through the    of GSM to Nawras, and the ma-         part of what we call the Market
sOMAN’S telecommunications             mobile services for 15 years. Af-                                              government, but now it is done by     jor supplier to Oman Mobile for       Unit Middle East, which covers
sector has seen major changes this     ter restructuring, Omantel was                                                 the Regulatory Authority, which       GSM, infrastructure, etc. We are      all the countries from Syria and
year with the government making        partially privatized in June in what                                           is working hard to provide an open    also a big supplier to Omantel        Iran in the north down to Oman
good on its pledge to create a ful-    was the largest IPO ever in the                                                telecommunications market for         when it comes to fixed lines.”        and Yemen further south. With
ly liberalized telecoms market. As     country. A tender for a second                                                 the people,” says H.E. Sheikh            Worldwide, more than 1,000         the development we have already
part of the moves to privatize the     GSM operator was won by a con-                                                 Saud bin Sulaiman bin Hamir Al-       networks in 140 countries utilize     seen in Oman and the ambitions
state-owned giant Omantel, Oman        sortium of Qtel of Qatar, TDC of                                               Nabhani, Undersecretary for           Ericsson’s network equipment          held there, it has become quite an
Mobile was set up in line with a       Denmark and prominent Omani                                                    Communications, Ministry of           and 40% of all mobile calls are       important market. When we look
royal decree to provide mobile         partners. The new operator, called                                             Transport and Communications.         made through its systems. Eric-       at the GDPof Oman, we can iden-
telecommunication services in the      Nawras, began services earlier                                                    Ericsson is currently the lead-    sson was awarded its first con-       tify with the strong economic
Sultanate. The decree granted          this year.                                  PETER ANDERSSON                    ing provider of telecommunica-        tract in Oman, for a nationwide       growth of the country as it is also
Omantel two licenses, the first to        Such a major transformation                General Manager                  tions equipment and related           telephone network, around 30          clearly reflected in our own in-
provide fixed telecom services for     in such a short time required a new            Ericsson Oman                   services to mobile and fixed net-     years ago. Twenty years ago, the      creasing business here,” Mr. An-
25 years and the second, basic         communications law and the set-                                                work operators in Oman, notes         first mobile phone network de-        dersson concludes.

      GSM MARKET

Oman Mobile: undoubtedly the leading-edge favorite
s WHEN Oman moved to liber- which we believe is the second                    vice. We want them to think of          provider, covering 95% of the
alize its telecommunications sec- largest in the Gulf region. We have         Oman Mobile, and we want the            country, and a highly skilled
tor, a slew of international surpassed many of the companies                  people who are with us to stay          Omani workforce, there remain a
operators rushed in to place their that were well ahead of us. I think        with us and not change. So that’s       few hurdles to overcome.
bids for a piece of the pie, some this is a direct consequence of the         what we mean by being the fa-             “We are still facing some chal-
30 in all seeking the prized mo- opening of the market, which came            vorite: being the company of            lenges to do with the legacies that
bile license in a rapidly growing as a result of joining the World            choice.”                                we inherited from being a gov-
market. The then state monopoly Trade Organization,” Dr. Al Rawas               If market share is any indication,    ernment organization run on a
Omantel split into two compa- adds.                                           then it is safe to say that Oman Mo-    number of government processes
nies: Omantel for                                      Oman Mobile has        bile is clearly the favorite. But de-   and procedures. We are continu-
fixed line service and
                            Changing from a a novel business phi-             spite its competitive advantage as      ing the transformation process in
Internet and Oman government-managed losophy, or as Dr. Al                    being the most far-reaching GSM         order to operate fully under pri-
Mobile, its subsidiary,     into a customer- Rawas calls it, ‘the                                                     vate sector philosophy and pri-
to take on the GSM         oriented company Oman Mobile vision’                                                       vate sector regulations,” Dr. Al
competition.              doubled the number which, refreshingly                                                      Rawas says. “The other external
   “We’ve been able           of subscribers        enough, is not about                                              challenges that we face for ex-       Market-responsive Oman Mobile’s portfolio is customer-driven.
to double the number                                being the ‘best’.                                                 ample have to do with any changes
of subscribers to 1,058,000 through       “I feel that companies and or-                                              in the competitive environment.          “In our case we want to be on      name. We managed this not only
a number of transformation steps ganizations that say ‘we are the best                                                When a competitor decides to          the leading edge of technology,       by branding, but also through in-
that we took to change the com- at that, or at that’are actually nev-                                                 make any drastic moves, then we       not the bleeding edge, so we look     teraction with the society; we are
pany from a government-owned er going to sustain being the best                                                       will have to be ready respond to      for the expectations of our cus-      there where people expect us to
utility services public authority at all parts of the business. The idea                                              those.”                               tomers,” he says.                     be. We have made a difference. We
into a customer and market ori- in a competitive world is to be the                                                     So far, Oman Mobile has re-            Oman Mobile takes its social re-   have been able to come to an event
ented private sector company, and favorite,” he explains.                                                             sponded well to the competition,      sponsibilities as a good corporate    and transform that event into a
this has resulted in an increased        “Our vision is to be the favorite                                            seeking out proven technologies       citizen very seriously and is con-    more glamorous, technological
interest from the community in company in Oman, the favorite                                                          and then implementing the ser-        stantly serving the community by      and innovative one. So we do not
our services,” explains Oman Mo- mobile telecommunications                       DR. AMER AWADH AL                    vices its customers demand. As Dr.    sponsoring many different events      just hand out checks like many
bile Managing Director Dr. Amer provider in Oman to be exact. We                       RAWAS                          Al Rawas explains it, Oman Mo-        such as the Muscat Festival and       sponsors around the world do, we
Awadh Al Rawas.                       aim to be the company of choice              Managing Director                  bile is not a technology-driven       Salalah Khareef Festival.             have become partners in those
   “We have also come out with a when someone wants to acquire                       Oman Mobile                      company, but rather a market-dri-        “That is the main factor in our    events and changed them in a very
quite large portfolio of services, a mobile telecommunications ser-                                                   ven company.                          success of being a household          big way,” he concludes.




Our World Insert is produced by United World. USA TODAY did not participate in its preparation and is not responsible for its content
Distributed by USA TODAY                                                                               Our World                                                            Thursday, December 15, 2005                        6

TOURISM The Ministry has big plans for the future                                                                                  BLUE CITY


                                                                                                                          Overseas involvement in a new
                                                                                                                          $15 billion mega-city project
                                                                                                                          s THERE is currently a kind                                            heart treatment. “Again, this will
                                                                                                                          of craze in the Middle East for                                        attract people from the Middle
                                                                                                                          building whole self-contained                                          East or Africa to come and be
                                                                                                                          metropolises from the ground                                           treated here and that will create
                                                                                                                          up as a way of providing jobs                                          jobs for nurses, for hotels and
                                                                                                                          in the labor-intensive tourism                                         other indirect things. This is how
                                                                                                                          sector. Oman, however, is bet-                                         we create the economy and this
                                                                                                                          ter positioned than most to                                            is why the government liked the
                                                                                                                          make these mega-projects a                                             idea. The Blue City is a tourist
Shangri-La’s Barr Al Jissah Resort & Spa offers luxurious facilities for both business and leisure.                       success.                                                               project that we converted into a
                                                                                                                             Despite its diverse landscape                                       macro-economy.”
                                                                                                                          of sea coasts, deserts, moun-                                             The project is to be financed

An Arabian shining star                                                                                                   tains and the lush subtropical
                                                                                                                          climate of Salalah, as well as
                                                                                                                          boasting a rich history with
                                                                                                                                                                                                 by the U.S. financial group Op-
                                                                                                                                                                                                 penheimer. “There is money
                                                                                                                                                                                                 available here for investment
More and more visitors are sampling Oman’s                                     of Business Development at the             ancient forts, mosques, towns             ANEES ISSA                   but we did not want to bring in
                                                                               Zubair Corporation.                        and villages, Oman’s tourism        Chairman of the Blue City          money from the Gulf region.
unforgettable sights, from stunning beaches                                       The site is managed by the              sector is still relatively small                                       We wanted to be different, so we
to lush greenery and rugged mountains                                          Asian-based group Shangri-La,              but has huge potential.           We do not compare ourselves          looked at European and Amer-
                                                                               which is targeting three distinct             Most promising is the $15 with the resorts here because oth-        ican collaboration and that is
s WITH Oman becoming a more              greenery. In terms of heritage and    products: the Al Waha 5-star ho-           billion Blue City project going ers are simply just hotels or golf     good for the country in gener-
and more popular destination for         culture, you will see hundreds of     tel for the family market, the 5-star      up on 34 square kilometers courses. It is not our concept. We          al. It is good for the rating when
European, Asian and Middle East-         castles and ports. Oman is known      deluxe Al Bandar for the confer-           along the coastal region at Al are creating an economy.”               investors come in from the Unit-
ern vacationers, tourism is quick-       for its rich culture, tradition and   ence and leisure markets, and the          Sawaadi, only 45 minutes from        Blue City will also be creat-     ed States, Britain or Germany.
ly emerging as one of the pillars        handicrafts. Each region has its      Al Husn 5-star deluxe hotel with           Muscat.                           ing thousands of jobs. The first     Our project has helped the rat-
of His Majesty Sultan Qaboos’            own unique assets to offer.”          a 6-star level of service.                    “This project is the biggest phase alone is expected to cre-        ing of the government because
Vision 2020 plan for sustainable            Several mega-projects are now         “Initially when I arrived with the      in the Middle East,” notes ate 7,000 direct jobs and 25,000            of the way we dealt with this,”
development.                             underway in Oman, including the       current project 14 months ago,             Anees Issa, Chairman of the indirect jobs.                             says Mr. Issa.
   “Oman is a very safe and peace-       $15 billion Blue City project and     everybody was skeptical. Now,              Blue City. “We                                 “This is why we            “We are welcoming Ameri-
ful country. Oman is like a box of       The Wave, a premier seafront res-     everybody says it is very positive         are not only de-
                                                                                                                                                 When completed, came into creating              can companies to come to the
chocolates, you will never know          idential project. Oman’s Zubair       because we are an international            veloping hotels; the city will include this urban economy,             Blue City. We have a lot of de-
what you will get but you can get        Group has become a major in-          brand, an international player and         we are looking at        16 hotels, two to create jobs. We             mand for different materials,
everything,” says H.E. Mo-               vestor in the sector, putting up a    all of a sudden Muscat can take            16 hotels in the           hospitals, a      thought about things      buildings, infrastructure, de-
hammed Hamood Al Tobi, Un-               60% stake in the $200 million Barr    on a lot of new business,” recalls         10-year plan, 2         university and a that the country              signs, computers and software
dersecretary at the Ministry of          Al Jissah project.                    Desmond Hatton, General Man-               hospitals, a big          sport village      needs, so we went in-     to complete the city, and top gi-
Tourism. “The asset of Oman is              “Tourism is one of the sectors     ager of Shangri-La’s Barr Al Jis-          university, an                               to hotels, shopping,      ant U.S. companies are already
that it can cater to all tastes and      in the Omani economy with the         sah Resort & Spa. “We are not              aquarium, a convention center, entertainment, amusement parks,         dealing with us in the project
types of tourist. It is a land of con-   greatest development opportuni-       here to take the business from oth-        and a sport village which will theatres and bowling. Further-          management, but I would say we
trasts because you will get every-       ties. The Zubair group is strong-     er hotels; we are here to bring in         be hosting a lot of European more, we will have one of the top         plan for more international com-
thing: clean sandy beaches, hot          ly betting on tourism with the Barr   new business. Shangri-La cur-              and international football teams universities from the United          panies to participate. Most of
climate and cold climate, deserts,       Al Jissah project,” explains Khalid   rently is operating 48 hotels so we        for the pre-season. We are go- States, not an affiliation, but a re-   the staff of Oppenheimer and
dunes, rugged mountains and lush         M. Al-Zubair, Managing Director       have quite a significant database          ing to announce this next year al university,” Mr. Issa explains.      other companies love Oman
                                                                               of guests that we can bring in to          with the association of one of       The Blue City chairman is al-     when they come and visit and
                                                                               the country as well.”                      the top clubs in Europe and so negotiating with two inter-             now they are bringing their fam-
                                                                                  The InterContinental Hotels             one of the celebrity players. national hospitals for cancer and        ilies here,” Mr. Issa concludes.
                                                                               Group, with more than 3,500 ho-
                                                                               tels in nearly 100 countries, is al-
                                                                               so betting on Oman’s flourishing
                                                                               tourism sector. There are two ho-
                                                                               tels in Muscat under the Inter-
                                                                               Continental name, the Al Bustan
                                                                               Palace and the InterContinental
                                                                               Muscat.
                                                                                  “I expect in the next 5 years to
                                                                               have 5 hotels. There is a consid-
                                                                               erable amount of growth coming
                                                                               to the city,” notes A. Antonio
H.E. MOHAMMED HAMOOD                       DESMOND HATTON                      Zamora, Director of Operations in
  AL TOBI, Undersecretary at                 GM of Shangri-La’s                Oman and General Manager of
    the Ministry of Tourism              Barr Al Jissah Resort & Spa           Al Bustan Palace InterContinen-
                                                                               tal Muscat.                                Blue City will be a man-made metropolis and create a new economy and employment for Omanis.

EDUCATION Equal oppor tunities for all in education and the workplace                                                                                                    CULTURE


Government to increase education                                                                                                                               Introducing the world to
                                                                                                                                                               Oman’s rich history and
and social spending by 44%                                                                                                                                     culture through music
The Omanization                                                                                                        the Arabian Peninsular to head a
                                                                                                                       government ministry.” Clearly, she      s DESPITE Oman’s success- challenges is that for the first
program prioritizes                                                                                                    is in a high profile position, and      ful integration into the global time I am going to do the whole
national education                                                                                                     her performance will be watched         community, Omanis have a music for a very large TV se-
                                                                                                                       closely by many observers.              strong sense of their history and ries that is coming up; this is
and training for                                                                                                          But the minister says it is im-      culture and go to great lengths quite a challenge for me because
increased private                                                                                                      portant to note that in Oman since      to preserve it. Annual events it is something different,” he
sector opportunities                                                                                                   the 1970s there has been no ex-         such as the Omani Song Festi- says.
                                                                                                                       clusion of women from the work-         val, the Muscat                                   “On two occa-
sSTARTING in 2006 the Omani                                                                                            place and that women were               Film Festival and          Traditional old sions I recorded my
government is to increase its spend-                                                                                   granted the same access to edu-         the Khareef Festi- pieces are carrying music in a sympho-
ing on economic development and                                                                                        cation as men, even to higher ed-       val in Salalah are the nation’s deep- ny arrangement. It
social programs by 44%, with ed-                                                                                       ucation. H.M. Sultan Qaboos has         attracting an in-         rooted musical was a small piece for
ucation - the key ingredient for hu-                                                                                   made clear his strong support for       creasing number heritage to a wider television and we
man resources development and                                                                                          women in the workplace, and as          of visitors to Oman                            recorded it in Lon-
thus the Omanization of the Sul-                                                                                       a result, women now account for         each year.                    audience         don at the Royal Al-
tanate - being tagged as a priority.                                                                                   nearly a quarter of the workforce.          World famous Omani com- bert Hall. People thought it was
   “In terms of Omanization, we                                                                                           “It is because of what women         poser and Chairman of the Sab- different. I enjoy trying out dif-
have accomplished a great deal,          One of the Ministry of Manpower’s duties is to ensure that all                have made of the opportunities          co group of companies, H.E. ferent things with music and my
especially in the field of educa-        companies and sectors meet the Omanization quotas.                            provided to them that we are see-       Sayyid Khalid bin Hamad bin next dream is to compose some-
tion. We have achieved over 90%                                                                                        ing them being promoted up to the       Hamoud Al Bu Said, endeavors thing with Indian music.”
Omanization in the teaching force        transforming the government col-      Omanization drive,” she adds.           highest levels in government, as        to introduce the world to his
of the school system,” notes             leges of education to produce            The education sector has grown       well as in the private sector,” H.E.    country’s rich heritage through
Higher Education Minister H.E.           teachers in specialized fields as     tremendously, starting with the es-     Dr. Al Busaidi says.                    music.
Dr. Rawya Saud Al Busaidi, the           well as to offer degrees in science   tablishment of Sultan Qaboos Uni-          The Ministry of Manpower,               “I believe that we have deep-
first woman to be appointed to a         and technology and international      versity in 1986. The Ministry of        likewise, is making sure that the       rooted traditions in Oman re-
ministerial portfolio.                   business administration. This is a    Higher Education encourages rep-        Omani population is prepared to         lated to music, and music is
   “Because of this, we are now          direct result of the success of the   utable, well-established institu-       enter the workforce. “We are fo-        everywhere. We have lots of tra-
                                                                               tions abroad to enter agreements        cusing on training and educat-          ditional old songs, which un-
                                                                               with local investors to establish       ing people, so they can go and          fortunately with time, people
                                                                               high quality local institutions.        work in the private sector. To          have started to forget,” explains
                                                                                  “We are inviting more interna-       provide training and employ-            H.E. Al Bu Said.
                                                                               tional investment in higher edu-        ment for Omani youth, in each              “My intention is to keep dig-
                                                                               cation and also more academic           economic activity we have Joint         ging all these old traditional mu-
                                                                               assistance. The U.S. has a long         Omanization Committees with             sic and keep all the ancient
                                                                               history of providing good quality       the private sector,” explains           pieces that had started dying
                                                                               education and we would like to see      Minister of Manpower H.E. Ju-           and bring them alive. There are
                                                                               that here, as well as more training     ma bin Ali bin Juma.                    some beautiful unique themes The Royal Oman Symphony
                                                                               possibilities for Omani academics          “Experience in the last three        that nobody has heard before, Orchestra (Roso) was
                                                                               in the U.S.,” the minister says.        years shows that the joint com-         which I think can become big formed in 1985.
                                                                                  H.E. Dr. Al Busaidi’s ascen-         mittees have been working real-         hits in Europe or America if they
                                                                               dance to the post of Minister of        ly well. The result of its work         were properly put with the right       OUR TEAM IN OMAN
                                                                               Higher Education has been no-           proves that the solution of find-       singer,” he adds.                         Project Director:
H.E. DR. RAWYA SAUD AL                      H.E. JUMA BIN ALI                  ticed worldwide. U.S. First Lady        ing jobs for the Omanis is in the          Recently, he has been travel-            Annick Jaëgy
          BUSAIDI                                BIN JUMA                      Laura Bush mentioned during a           private sector and Omanization in       ing to Cairo, the Arab world’s            Editorial Director:
Minister of Higher Education               Minister of Manpower                Unesco conference in February           recent years has been moving in         music capital, and to Europe to           Gonzalo Gallardo
                                                                               that she was “the first woman on        the right direction,” he says.          share his music. “One of my

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