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Investment in Oman’s special economic zones and industrial cities exceeds to over $43bln

Muscat: The total investment in Oman’s special economic zones and industrial cities had surpassed OMR16.6 billion by June 2023.

The investment was distributed among the zones managed by the Public Authority for Special Economic Zones and Free Zones (Opaz). Out of the total investment, the existing industrial cities received OMR7.3 billion, while Salalah Free Zone received OMR4.5 billion. The special economic zone at Duqm received over OMR3.8 billion and Sohar Freezone received OMR570 million. Additionally, the Al Mazunah Free Zone received over OMR139 million in investment. The total cumulative investment committed until the last quarter in Khazaen Economic City amounted to OMR323 million.

Special Economic Zone at Duqm (Sezad)
From January to the end of June this year, Sezad received an investment of OMR185 million the total cumulative investment is more than OMR3.8 billion. During this period, 16 investment agreements were signed and 111 investment applications were received. Additionally, 80 applications for commercial activities were registered and 420 public service licenses were issued. Sezad also approved 22 building permits and 34 environmental permits and licenses.

Sezad Administration is actively working to attract a diverse range of economic activities, such as clean energy projects, green hydrogen production, ammonia, refineries, petrochemical industries, commercial, tourism, logistics, light and medium industries, fishery industries, and real estate development projects. The vast area of 2000 square kilometres available to Sezad allows it to accommodate requests from investors who require relatively large land for their investment projects. Additionally, Sezad offers developers who wish to implement various projects in areas of over 50 hectares with additional advantages.

Sohar Freezone
The investments in the Sohar Free Zone from the beginning of the year until the end of June amounted to OMR94 million, bringing the total cumulative investment to OMR570 million. During this period, Sohar Freezone signed four investment agreements and received 179 investment applications and 31 commercial activity applications. Additionally, Sohar Freezone issued 284 licenses for public services and approved nine building permits, along with 90 environmental permits.

Sohar Freezone has a total area of 45 square kilometres and boasts an integrated infrastructure, supported by a large and vital port. It is home to diverse projects that span various sectors, including minerals, petrochemicals, and food industries. One of Sohar Freezone’s competitive advantages is that it offers warehouses and prefabricated offices for rent to companies.

Salalah Free Zone (SFZ)
Investments worth OMR727 million were made in SFZ from January to the end of June 2023, taking the total cumulative investment to OMR4.5 billion. During this period, SFZ received 127 investment applications and 18 commercial activities applications. SFZ signed 6 agreements, issued 173 public service licenses, approved 3 building permits, and granted 41 environmental permits and licenses. Additionally, SFZ issued 1512 business and investor licenses.

SFZ Administration is committed to delivering solutions to business owners and multinational companies who are looking to expand their business networks in the Middle East, Africa, Southern Europe, and South Asia. SFZ offers comprehensive assistance in meeting all requirements for establishing and managing the business, including visa procurement for employees, government permit issuance, and office facility services.

Al Mazunah Free Zone (MFZ)
The total investments in MFZ during the period from the beginning of the year to the end of June amounted to OMR1.3 million. This brought the total cumulative investment to OMR139 million. Furthermore, MFZ registered 25 investment applications and issued 19 business licenses, as well as 50 business and investor licenses. The number of workers in the zone surpassed 300.

It’s important to note that the Public Establishment for Industrial Estates “Madayn” manages the operation of MFZ. MFS acts as the Gulf gateway for transit trade to Yemen. The establishment of MFZ has strengthened the relationship between the two countries and has helped revive economic activity on both sides of the border.

The Public Establishment for Industrial Estates – Madayn
During the period from January to the end of June this year Madayn recorded investments exceeding OMR 7.6 million distributed among various industrial cities in the governorates of the Sultanate of Oman, bringing the total cumulative investment to OMR7.3 billion. Since the beginning of the year, Madayn has received 122 new investment applications, while it has registered 80 applications in various commercial activities and issued 843 licenses to practice activities.

Madayn is currently working on building two industrial cities in Oman. The first city is located in Al Wadi Al Kabir and spans an area of 2.15 million square metres. The second city is Mahas Industrial City, located in the Wilayat of Khasab, and covers an area of 1.5 million square metres. Currently, Mahas Industrial City houses 10 diverse industrial projects, including cement products, bricks, ready-mix concrete, quarries, and electricity production.
Madayn also manages and operates industrial cities that cover a total area of 122 square kilometres, distributed across several governorates, such as Sur, Sohar, Raysut, Nizwa, Buraimi, Rusayl, Samail, Ibri, Mudhaibi, Mahas, Al Wadi Al Kabir, Muscat Knowledge Oasis and MFZ.

Khazaen Economic City (KEC)
Since its establishment, KEC has signed over 110 investment agreements. The signed agreements commit more than 323 million Omani riyals in various sectors. The most prominent investment was the $50 million logistics project signed with the Qatari Group. Additionally, KEC also signed an investment agreement with Al-Raya Investment Company to establish a factory specialised in the production and packaging of mineral water. The investment value is estimated to be OMR1 million.

Khazaen celebrated laying the foundation stone for the second phase of the Opal Biopharma factory in the Pharmaceutical City. It is the first Omani factory specialising in the production of vital medicines and vaccines and has an investment value of OMR60 million. KEC has also been involved in several other investment projects.
Khazaen City is an ambitious project aimed at diversifying sources of income. It aims to build an integrated economic city with advanced infrastructure and modern international standards. The total area of the project is 52 square kilometres, which includes a land port and two free zones offering tax exemptions for investment. The free zones also provide ready-to-use warehouses for various storage activities and offer various logistical services. The project also includes mixed-use real estate projects, combining industrial, commercial, and residential activities.

The establishment of KEC and its system was declared this year in accordance with Royal Decree No. (44/2023). Oman Logistics Company has been entrusted with the operation of KEC and the two free zones within it. Additionally, Khazaen Economic City Company has been tasked with the development of the city and the two existing free zones.

The Economic Zone at Al Dhahirah (EZAD)
OPAZ has recently announced a tender for Omani and Saudi companies to bid through the electronic tender system (ESNAD) for consulting services related to the design and supervision of infrastructure facilities. The infrastructure facilities will be implemented in preparation for the commencement of construction work for the establishment of EZAD.

Business development
Opaz has completed its efforts towards developing and governing business in the zones it oversees. During the first half of 2023, it focused on several initiatives aimed at improving and developing services provided to investors by implementing measures such as reducing fees for small and medium enterprises by 50%, setting fees for more than 80 services, and re-engineering import and export procedures. The Authority also made significant efforts to ensure the satisfaction of its beneficiaries in the zones it oversees, with a satisfaction rate of 86% among beneficiaries of the Authority’s services until the end of June 2023.

The Authority has had a successful year in terms of digital transformation. One notable achievement is the launch of the Omap platform, which provides integrated geographical maps of data from the comprehensive plans of all regions. This platform allows users to access detailed information and services of each region through digital maps and tools. It is a crucial step towards the electronic selection of land. Additionally, the Authority has activated the centralized compliance system (Eltizam), which automates inspection, control, and compliance procedures relating to the environment, workers, buildings, projects, health, and safety.

The Authority has set a deadline of June 30, 2023, for receiving and sending paper transactions, as part of its ongoing effort to digitally transform and promote environmental sustainability through initiatives like the “Paperless” campaign. In May 2023, Opaz was honored with the Arab Digital Government Award 2023 in the category of government achievements. This award is a testament to the organization’s commitment to innovation, development and the use of modern technologies to improve the experience of investors and beneficiaries of its services while adhering to best practices that improve service quality.

Media and promotion
Throughout the current year, Opaz has organised a variety of media forums, events, and programs aimed at promoting and marketing the zones under its supervision both within and outside the Sultanate of Oman. One notable event was the Duqm Economic Forum, hosted by Sezad in Duqm for two days in October. This was the first forum of its kind in the region to specifically discuss investment issues in the green industries sector, renewable energy, and green hydrogen. Several agreements and memoranda of cooperation were signed with major international companies operating in this field. Furthermore, at the beginning of the year, Opaz held its annual media meeting, which welcomed CEOs, officials, media professionals, and representatives from various media outlets.

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