Sultan Qaboos visits Kuwait, Bahrain to discuss regional developments, fraternal ties

Sultan of Oman orders support for judicial budget for 10 years to come

Crisis management panel to be set up in Sultanate

Muscat Municipality wins Middle East Excellence Award

Oman’s industrial zones offer proper atmosphere for investment – report

His Majesty Sultan Qaboos Bin Said returned home on Monday from Bahrain after a private two-day visit.

The country’s monarch was received upon his return at the Royal Airport by a number of their highnesses and excellencies and senior state officials.

In the month, His Majesty visited sisterly states including Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Egypt, Kuwait and Bahrain.

His Majesty held talks with the leaders of the countries on boosting the existing strong ties with the Sultanate.

His Majesty also discussed regional, Arab and international developments with the leaders of the countries.

His Majesty sent a cable of greetings to HE Sheikh Khalifa Bin Zayed Al Nahyan, President of the UAE while crossing the UAE’s airspace on his way home.

In his cable, His Majesty expressed his greetings along with his best wishes of good health, happiness and a long life to Sheikh Khalifa praying to Almighty to grant him success to achieve further progress to the Emirati brotherly people under his wise leadership.

In Manama, His Majesty sent a cable of thanks and appreciation to Bahrain King HH Hamad Bin Isa Al Khalifa upon his departure after concluding visit to Bahrain.

In his cable, His Majesty expressed his utmost thanks and appreciation to the Bahrain king for the warm welcome and generous hospitality.

His Majesty hailed the meeting with King Hamad that availed the opportunity to discuss the strong brotherly relations between the countries and means of enhancing them to strengthen the cooperation in various fields to serve the common interests of the Omani and Bahraini brotherly people.

His Majesty also prayed to Almighty to grant King Hamad good health, happiness and success to achieve further aspirations of the Bahraini brotherly people under his wise leadership.

Earlier, King Hamad led the farewell party for His Majesty the Sultan upon his departure from Al Sakhair Airbase. His Majesty was also seen off by HE Sheikh Khalifa Bin Salman Al Khalifa, Prime Minister of Bahrain, royal family members, ministers, top Bahraini officials, Sultanate’s ambassador to Bahrain and members of Sultanate Embassy.

During the visit, His Majesty was accompanied by an official delegation that comprised HE Sayyid Ali Bin Hamoud Al Busaidi, Minister of the Diwan of Royal Court, HE Gen. Ali Bin Majid Al Ma’amari, Minister of the Royal Office, Lt-Gen. Sultan Bin Mohammed Al Numa’ani, Secretary-General of the Royal Court Affairs, HE Yousuf Bin Alawi Bin Abdullah, Minister Responsible for Foreign Affairs, HE Ahmed Bin Abdulnabi Macki, Minister of National Economy and Supervisor of the Ministry of Finance, HE Abdulaziz Bin Mohammed Al Rowas, HM’s Adviser for Cultural Affairs, HE Dr Ali Bin Mohammed Bin Moosa, Deputy Chairman of the Board of Governors of the Central Bank of Oman (CBO) and Chairman of the Tender Board, HE Maqbool Bin Ali Bin Sultan, Minister of Commerce and Industry, HE Dr Mohammed Bin Hamad Al Rumhi, Minister of Oil and Gas, HE Dr Khamis Bin Mubarak Al Alawi, Minister of Transport and Communications and HE Abdullah Bin Mohammed Bin Suleiman Al Amri, Sultanate’s Ambassador to Bahrain.

Also, His Majesty Sultan Qaboos visited the State of Kuwait for several days’ visit during which he met Sheikh Sabah Al Ahmed Al Jabir Al Sabah, the Emir of Kuwait.

During the visit, His Majesty the Sultan discussed the strong fraternal relations binding the two brotherly countries and means of achieving further cooperation to serve mutual interests of the brotherly Omani and Kuwaiti peoples, in addition to discussing a number of issues of common concern in the light of the latest developments being witnessed in the Arab and international arenas.

During his blessed visit, His Majesty was accompanied by HE Sayyid Ali Bin Hamoud Al Busaidi, Minister of the Diwan of Royal Court, HE Gen. Ali Bin Majid Al Ma’amari, Minister of Royal Office, HE Lt Gen Sultan Bin Mohammed Al Numani, Secretary-General of the Royal Court Affairs, HE Yousuf Bin Alawi Bin Abdullah, Minister Responsible for Foreign Affairs, HE Ahmed Bin Abdulnabi Macki, National Economy Minister and Supervisor of the Finance Ministry, HE Abdulaziz Bin Mohammed Al Rowas, HM the Sultan’s Adviser for Cultural Affairs, HE Dr Ali Bin Mohammed Bin Moosa, Deputy Chairman of the Board of Governors of the Central Bank of Oman (CBO) and Chairman of the Tender Board, HE Maqbool Bin Ali Bin Sultan, Commerce and Industry Minister, HE Dr Mohammed Bin Hamad Al Rumhy, Oil and Gas Minister, HE Dr Khamis Bin Mubarak Al Alawi, Transport and Communications Minister, and HE Sheikh Salim Bin Suhail Al Ma’ashani, the Sultanate’s Ambassador to Kuwait.

Meanwhile, The National Committee for Civil Defense (NCDC) held discussions to form a national crisis management panel.

The meeting, according to an Oman News Agency report, is being held after His Majesty Sultan Qaboos bin Said issued Royal Orders to constitute the committee.

“The committee will identify the required mechanisms that ensure full readability in all the services, living and medical fields in extraordinary circumstances,” the report said.

The directives seek to restructure the national plan for crisis management, set up a centre equipped with the required facilities, update database of civil installations, roads, topography of regions, besides collecting Geographic Information Systems (GIS) details.

The orders also include re-distribution of food reserve warehouses in all governorates and regions of the Sultanate, establishing hospitals in all areas where staff and facilities can be quickly deployed, including by air transportation, rehabilitation and equipping the specialized shelter centers during crisis times, availing and utilizing the water reservoir services of the various referral hospitals that can be used in case the water desalination plants are not functioning, the report said.

The meeting will be convened by Lt Gen. Malik bin Suleiman Al Ma’amari, IG of Police and Customs.

The State Council Office held its 10th meeting of the third annual sitting of the fourth term under the chairmanship of Dr. Yahya bin Mahfoud Al Mantheri, chairman of the State Council.

During the meeting, the Council’s office praised the efforts exerted by the National Civil Defense Committee, the Sultan’s Armed Forces (SAF), different civil and military apparatuses, civil community establishments, sons of the dear country and residents during the adverse weather conditions experienced by the Sultanate recently.

The office approved minutes of the previous meeting. It also viewed list of executive procedures taken with regard to the office’s decisions and the follow up report of the committees’ activities during the period which falls between the office’s previous and current meeting.

The meeting also hosted the Chairperson of the Human Resources Development Committee and its Rapporteur to study the committee’s study on the Status of Illiteracy in the Sultanate of Oman conducted as part of its approved working plan, which will be studied and approved by the Council at its fifth session due to be held on June 22 and 23, in addition to a number of other topics that the office took appropriate decisions in their regard.

On the other hand, Chairman of the Supreme Judicial Council His Majesty Sultan Qaboos bin Said has granted generous support to develop the judicial institution, Justice Minister Sheikh Mohammed bin Abdullah bin Zahir Al Hinai said.

Presiding over a meeting of the Supreme Judicial Council called at his office on His Majesty’s directives, Al Hinai, who is also Deputy Chairman of the Supreme Judicial Council, said: “The generous support for the current judicial budget for next 10 years reflects the deep vision of His Majesty that the judicial authority should keep pace with the society’s growth to ensure justice and preserve rights.”

“In this connection,” he said, “this support affirms the royal care for the judicial authority, which has the honor of His Majesty’s follow up of the efforts made to build this institution and develop it”.

The meeting was attended by all the members of the council.

An ONA report quoted him as saying: “The generous support, which culminates the efforts of 40 years of achievements in the field of justice, will be utilized in making an impressive leap in the performance of justice sector and prepare it to meet the requirements of the record growth for the development rate and the resultant growth in the increasing number of cases deliberated by the three degrees of courts.

“This royal support will be earmarked for availing new cadres of judges, assistant judges, secretaries, experts, court servers and other professional efficiencies required by judicial institution. It will also enable courts to keep pace with record increase in number of cases and to shorten the period of the cases on the current roll,” he said.

“We will also avail ourselves of other programs in the field of training and rehabilitation to prepare a generation that will meet the requirements of the modern age. These programs will be implemented through the Higher Institute for Justice in Nizwa,” he said.

“It is good that this grant comes when the Sultanate is celebrating its 40th anniversary,” he said.

“The achievements made so far reflect the richness of the Omani experience. This experience, while targeting the future, was inspired and driven by the glorious past and the activity of the present. Therefore, the Sultanate’s experience is worthy of the highest level of merit, appreciation and esteem,” he said.

He also added that the judicial institution has always been a source of pride of the blessed reign of His Majesty the Sultan and has always been at the top of the achievements of the Renaissance.

During its meeting, the Supreme Judicial Council reviewed the major achievements made today are the most prominent features of the prosperous Oman either on the front of qualifying the citizen who is capable of carrying the message of noble justice or on the front of the basic infrastructure, such as, the court complexes. Work is underway now at the Muscat Court Complex in Al Khuwair, which has the biggest façade to be the most prominent feature of the ministries area. This also makes it an important addition to Muscat which is adorned with achievements. Work is also underway at a number of similar complexes in Sohar, Al Buraimi and Al Rustaq to ensure integration of these complexes with the already available court complexes in Salalah, Ibri and Ibra. Efforts are also underway to complete packages of legislations required by the litigation procedures in accordance with the Sultanate’s vision, culture and the relevant global standards.

While discussing the requirements of the future, the Supreme Judicial Council also discussed during its meeting the plans to complete more court complexes in a number of wilayats, introduce a number of appeal courts in the intensely populated wilayats and add primary courts at the wilayats which do not have such justice edifices.

During its meeting, the council also discussed the proposed projects of the Justice Ministry at the eighth five-year plan which integrates with the requirements of comprehensive renaissance.

At the end of the meeting, the Supreme Judicial Council expressed its deep gratitude and appreciation for His Majesty for the royal care for the judicial institution which His Majesty the Sultan chairs its Supreme Council. This royal care enabled it to carry out its message with transparency, neutralism and independence. The justice minister pointed out to the generous support made by His Majesty to the judicial budget which will continue for the next 10 years. This generous support will be an impressive leap which the Sultanate will reap its fruits as the support will result in positive outcomes in terms of improving the performance of the judicial authority.

Meanwhile, Muscat Municipality added another trophy to its collection of international awards as it won the Middle East Award for Excellence in Municipal and Urban Development instituted by the Institute of Middle East Award for Excellence affiliated to Data Matrix in Dubai.

The award aims to stimulate and improve the performance of municipalities and cities for national economy and promote sustainable development and global competitiveness.

Muscat Municipality’s recognition was based on a criteria approved by the institute to select and honor creativity and quality in the development of architectural heritage. Muscat Municipality was lauded for adhering to Sultanate of Oman’s heritage architecture with features of ancient Arab and Islamic architecture.

Institute of Middle East Award hailed the Sultanate for mixing its heritage with modern needs in a well coordinated and harmonious design which is visible in the cities and urban communities.

Muscat Municipality was honored last Thursday at a ceremony in Burj Al Arab in Dubai. The ceremony was sponsored by Saeed Mohammed Al Tayer, board member and chief executive officer of Dubai Electricity and Water Company.

Muscat Municipality was represented in the ceremony by Sheikh Mansour bin Suleiman Al Nabhani, director of external relations at the municipality.

Furthermore, Oman’s free trade zone initiatives will serve as catalysts for investments and economic development, according to Ahmed bin Abdulnabi Macki, Minister of National Economy and Vice- Chairman of the Financial Affairs and Energy Resources Council. In comments to the Observer, Macki said ongoing free zone developments at Salalah and Sohar, and a proposed scheme at Duqm, would also fuel economic growth in the respective host regions of the Sultanate. “The vision behind the development of the free trade zones in Oman (Salalah, Sohar and Duqm) is to diversify the economy from the oil sector and enhance socio-economic development in the different regions of the Sultanate.

These zones offer world-class infrastructure and services to attract different investments to the strategic industrial locations, as well as enhancing the partnership and collaboration across industries and borders.” Employment generation is a key underlying objective behind the free zone schemes, Macki stated. “All these trade zones will contribute efficiently towards the goal of creating new job opportunities and generating income. At the same time, they will boost export manufacturing capacity, which leads to export growth and export diversification, attract foreign direct investment, along with it modern technologies and know-how, and increase government revenue.”

“The trade zones,” he further added, “would definitely act as catalysts for more investments in allied fields leading to accelerated growth of various regions in the country.” Oman’s maiden free zone initiative, set up alongside the Port of Salalah in Dhofar Governorate, has already pulled in over $2 billion in industrial investment. The facility hosts two major industrial ventures — a methanol scheme run by Salalah Methanol, and OCTAL Petrochemicals, a world-scale producer of PET sheets and resins. Construction will also start later this year on a caustic soda project involving a capital investment of $350-400 million. At least half a dozen other smaller ventures have set up operations at the complex.

Salalah Free Zone has now embarked on the third phase development of the sprawling 2,000-hectare facility. Covering an area of 260 hectares, this phase will be dedicated to investments related to logistics, light and medium industries, re-export trade and information technology. Oman’s biggest free zone scheme by far is under development adjacent to the hugely successful Sohar Industrial Port in the Batinah region.

Freezone Sohar is being developed by Sohar International Development Company (SIDC), a 50:50 joint venture between the Government of Oman and Port of Rotterdam, and SKIL Infrastructure Limited of India.

Of the 4,500 hectares earmarked for the massive venture, a 500-hectare plot has been taken in hand for development in the first phase. The free zone authority is in the process of appointing a consultant to undertake detailed design and engineering studies for Phase 1, which is targeted to be brought into operation before the end of this year.

Equally ambitious will be a Free Trade Zone and Industrial Area envisioned at Duqm in the Wusta region. Singapore-based international consultant Jurong has been selected by the government to undertake the master-plan study of the scheme. The Duqm Free Trade Zone and Industrial Area is proposed to be housed on a 24,000-hectare plot not far from the site of the Duqm port and dry dock complex currently under construction.

A preliminary study commissioned by the Supreme Committee for Town Planning (SCTP), which is overseeing the Duqm Development initiative, has identified the potential for a number of economic and commercial activities, notably heavy industry, oil refining, petrochemical processing, mineral, small and medium scale manufacturing, logistics, warehousing, fisheries, and so on.

On a more modest scale is the Al Mazyounah Free Zone straddling the Oman-Yemen border at Mazyounah.

Administered by the Public Establishment for Industrial Estates (PEIE), the newly established facility is expected to attract investments in small-scale ventures that will spur cross-border trade between the two countries. s