Sultan Qaboos Cup winners for 5 best plants in Oman announced

Oil added value up by 28.5%, non-oil 18.13%

Islamic economy forum recommends adoption of plan to develop Islamic banking in Sultanate

Salalah Macaroni Company, Euro Poles Middle East Company, Sohar Gases Company, Windows 2000 Company and Sohar Aluminum Company won His Majesty’s Cup for the Best Five Factories in the Sultanate for 2011.

HE Sayyid Hamoud Bin Faisal Al Busaidi, Interior Minister, presented the awards to the winners at a ceremony organized by the Ministry of Commerce and Industry at Al Bustan Palace Hotel.

Oasis Water Company, Amiantit Oman Company, Salalah Mills Company, Oman Cables Industry Company, Al Hilal Plastic Industries Company, Oman Polycon Company, Al Asr Electrical & Electronics Company and National Detergent Company bagged complementary awards.

HE Sheikh Sa’ad Bin Mohammed Al Mardhouf Al Sa’adi, Minister of Commerce and Industry, in his speech, said that the manufacturing sector is expected to grow 17.1 per cent annually in the in the Eighth Five- Year Plan.

This would contribute to the gross domestic product (GDP) with a 26.3 per cent growth in manufacturing exports and 12.8 per cent rise in the number of Omanis working in the industry sector.

The number of Omanis working in the industry sector stood at over 20,000, a rise of 5 per cent from 2009.

The capital investments at Al Rusayl Industrial Estate and the other industrial estates under the Public Establishment for Industrial Estates (PEIE) in 2010 stood at 3.6 billion rials, he added.

The manufacturing sector rose 16.9 per cent in the Seventh Five-Year Plan, while exports in the industry stood at over 3 billion rials in 2010.

The minister said that the development plan aims at reducing the cost of industrial production, increasing productivity and capability, as well as enhancing balanced development by increasing the number and areas of industrial estates in different wilayats.

Al Sa’adi added that the work is underway to improve the industrial investment environment to enhance local and foreign investments and encourage investments in free zones especially in assembly, re-export and packing industries.

HE Khalil Bin Abdullah Al Khunji, Chairman of the Oman Chamber of Commerce and Industry (OCCI), said that while efforts are being made by private sector establishments especially the industrial institutions to implement development plans in the Sultanate, these departments will try to boost viability of the industrial products.

Khunji added that these departments are giving preference to raw industries from governmental and private purchases.

“The departments should also be flexible in meeting the needs of factories in terms of manpower,” he said.

He said the two-pronged policy that should be applied to maintain the achievements by the industrial sector are developing infrastructure to the sector and focusing on modern technologies in industry and production especially the industries that generate large number of job opportunities for the national manpower.

He added that it is important to complete the integrated industrial estates network at governorates, such as A’Dhahirah governorate and the Northern A’Sharqiyah governorate.

The Tender Board would do the required follow up to ensure that Omani products are given preference in local purchases and governmental tenders,” he added.

At the event an exhibition of the companies which won His Majesty’s Cup was also organized. A film on the development of Omani industries and the factories that qualified for the coveted award was also shown.

Talking to Oman Tribune, Rehan Raina, quality and marketing manager of Salalah Macaroni Company which is one of the five winners, said that the award has come as a major encouragement for the company and its entire team.

He said that with this award it has become more challenging to keep pace with the expectations of the government. Raina said that the Salalah Macaroni Company, the manufacturer of dry pasta in Arab Asia, established its first factory in 2008. Its production capacity touched 9,000 metric ton per month from 3,000 metric ton per month in the beginning.

The Consultative Meeting of the Arab Ministers of Commerce and participating delegation in the Eighth Ministerial Conference of the World Trade Organization which began in Geneva.

HE Sheikh Sa’ad Bin Mohammed Al Sa’adi, Minister of Commerce and Industry, chaired the Sultanate’s delegation.

The meeting discussed the paper submitted by Saudi Arabia on the negotiations of Doha Development Round, the paper submitted by Algeria’s delegation and Yemen about joining the Organization, the request submitted by Palestine and the Arab League to be observers in the WTO, and the project to include Arabic language in the WTO, in addition to the proposal of developing countries, which are net importers of food products.

Sa’ad Al Sa’adi took part in the consultative meeting of the member states of the Islamic Cooperation Organization organized by the Islamic Development Bank. The meeting discussed the agenda of the Doha Development Program and the bank’s support for development program.

Sa’ad Al Sa’adi also met Pascal Lamy, Director-General of the World Trade Organization (WTO), on the sidelines of the ministerial conference. The meeting discussed issues related to the current situation of the Doha Negotiations for Development and the impact of the world crisis on the world trade.

He thanked the WTO for the efforts to provide technical support to the Sultanate.

He emphasized on the Sultanate’s need to enhance and build human resources in negotiating WTO issues and added that the Sultanate is keen to create awareness on the Organization’s issues by organizing introductory visits of the judges, lawyers and lawmakers to the organization.

Lamy praised the Sultanate’s prominent role in the organization and its contributions to various committees. The meeting was attended by the members of the Omani delegation that includes officials of the Ministry of Commerce and Industry and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

Sheikh Sa’adi met with employees of the Oman Chamber of Commerce and Industry (OCCI).

At the meeting, he assured the employees that their demands including changing the retirement system at OCCI, and shifting it to the pension fund of civil services, will be met.

The minister said that the ministry will revise certain laws and regulations of work and will make required amendments.

“The ministry is giving top priority to develop the economic system of the Sultanate. We are promoting the role of OCCI in serving the citizens,” he said.

The ministry is coordinating with the OCCI chairman to solve problems that employees face at OCCI, he added.

Students of the College of Commerce and Economics at SQU participated in the first Oman Islamic Economic Forum (OIEF) held at the Al Bustan Palace Hotel recently.

The two-day forum, which was organized by Amjad Development, brought together international experts in Islamic finance to discuss best practices in the industry, and the way forward for Oman, where Islamic banking and finance has recently been introduced.

The event served as a platform for companies to launch their Islamic finance and banking institutions in Oman.

Among the distinguished speakers from both local and global organizations, were Tun Abdullah Bin Haji Ahmad Badawi, former prime minister of Malaysia; and Dr. Abdulaziz Al Hinai, vice-president of Islamic Development Bank Saudi Arabia.

Some of the key topics on the agenda included ‘Competing Islamic banking regulatory models’, ‘The structuring of Islamic finance products’, ‘Sharia issues in Islamic banking and finance’ and ‘Islamic banking as a tool for economic reforms’. “Today is a milestone in the history of Islamic finance in the country.

The SQU students who participated in the forum were all praise for the event which shed light on different aspects of Islamic banking systems and the experiences of countries like Malaysia where the system is in place.

Following the decision of His Majesty Sultan Qaboos Bin Said to permit Islamic-based financial instruments to operate in Oman, some banks in the Sultanate have announced Islamic banking services.

Khalfan Al Toki, External Liaison Officer at the College of Commerce, who led the SQU students at the forum, said that the event was an opportunity for the students to know more about the concept of Islamic banking.

In future, SQU business graduates could play a leading role in spreading awareness about Islamic banking in the Omani society. The forum paved the way for students to establish links with financial organizations in Oman which will go into Islamic economic practices, he added.

BankMuscat’s Meethaq Islamic Banking operations, which awaits approval from the Central Bank of Oman, has won the Pioneer of Islamic Banking in the Sultanate award from Global Islamic Finance.

The Global Islamic Finance Award (GIFA) is the first of its kind award in Islamic banking and finance. Based on an objective proprietary methodology — developed and operated by Edbiz Consulting — the awards highlight success and contributions of individuals and institutions in the Islamic financial services industry.

Sulaiman Al Harthy, group DGM – consumer banking, received the award during the ceremony coinciding with the Oman Economic Islamic Forum.

Sulaiman Al Harthy said: “BankMuscat is the first financial institution in the Sultanate to introduce Shariah-compliant products to the public.

Meethaq, the pioneer of Islamic banking in Oman, will reach out to customers with the promise of being true to their beliefs, offering all the advantages of banking by following the principles of Shariah law.

The Meethaq suite of banking products which combine traditional values with modernity are in the pipeline to give the choice of staying true to one’s values.

Inspired by faith and a tradition of trust, Meethaq will help customers stay true to their values.”

BankMuscat announced the board’s decision to set up an independent Islamic banking window and launch Islamic banking operations in accordance with the injunctions of Sharia.

In the run-up to comply with the CBO requirements, the bank unveiled the logo of its Islamic banking window under the brand name ‘Meethaq’ at the Oman Islamic Economic Forum.