How do the targets in Oman's national logistics strategy (SOLS 2040) complement the ones for the logistics sector, set in the Vision 2040?
ASYAD's focus over the last five years has been on consolidating group companies and streamlining collaboration with government agencies. That includes restructuring some assets and pushing a new corporate mindset. Those moves have played out as recently as early 2020, when ASYAD integrated its shipping arm with its dry dock company. A strong industrial sector leans on a reliable logistics infrastructure that facilitates trade and guarantees the flow of goods and services. At ASYAD, our role is to ensure the smooth and consistent functioning of the supply chain by offering integrated efficient services. We work in close cooperation with all stakeholders, most prominently government agencies, to develop standardized procedures to maintain a trusted pipeline of industrial inputs and outputs, as proven by our impressive numbers and record. Thanks to this outstanding effort and collaboration, Oman ranked first in the GCC on the Trading Across Border Index published by the World Bank and excelled in shipment customs clearances, inspection rates, pre-arrival container clearance, and several other indicators. ASYAD is also building new capabilities such as cold chain solutions in addition to constantly enhancing its ILS offerings to accommodate various industries and employing 4IR technologies such as 5G and drone solutions to be used for security, inspection, and delivery as well as IoT for automation and experimentation.
As logistics is part of the Vision 2040 plan for increasing Oman's readiness to transition to knowledge and innovation, what more is needed from an infrastructure perspective?
According to the most recent World Bank Logistics Performance Index, which is a national benchmark, as of 2018, Oman ranked 43rd globally. That was up five spots from the previous ranking two years earlier and 16 notches above 2014. Oman ranked first in the GCC on the Trading Across Border Index by the World Bank, and first in the world in port call hours according to UNCTAD while scoring an impressive 2.5% goods inspection rate compared to an average 3% across the EU
One of Oman's ambitions is to become a logistics hub regionally. How do you assess the efforts so far and what are the medium-term prospects for that?
ASYAD is ideally positioned to take its place among the top 10 logistics hub. Oman's strategic geographic location, combined with a world-class infrastructure, creates optimal conditions to become a major global player. International customers today are looking for a one-stop-shop to handle all their needs, and that is precisely the core of ASYAD's customer-centric approach that drives our efforts to offer quality services and an end-to-end seamless customer experience.
What is your strategy for establishing yourself abroad, and what are some of your immediate targets there?
ASYAD is ready to take new steps to drive growth. The group's financial performance has provided the financial footing to pursue deals, with a focus on third-party logistics and fourth-party logistics providers—which assist with outsourcing logistics execution and fulfillment processes—and the e-commerce space. There's also port expansion planned for Salalah, as well as investments in developing its fleet and adding to its dry dock capabilities. As a company aiming to be a global top 10 logistics destination, ASYAD is seeking to catalyze growth and capability through acquisition. Backed by Oman's sovereign wealth fund, the group is in advanced discussions with a number of ports and operators across Asia and Africa. ASYAD is prioritizing the development of a network of assets outside of the Sultanate that will route throughput into the country by providing carriers economies of scale. Unlike other operators, ASYAD also sees strong potential value in both greenfield and brownfield investment opportunities, especially in emerging markets. Additional targets include global couriers and freight forwarders.