Jan. 24, 2022


Asila Al Samsami

Oman

Asila Al Samsami

Undersecretary for Investment Promotion, Ministry of Commerce, Industry & Investment Promotion,

Today, Oman is delivering a better than ever pro-business environment, making it even easier for investors to take advantage of the great opportunities that exist in the Sultanate's logistics, manufacturing, tourism, agriculture and fisheries, healthcare, education, mining and renewable energy sectors.

BIO

Asila Al Samsami was appointed Undersecretary of Investment Promotion at the Ministry of Commerce, Industry & Investment Promotion in August 2020. She is also a board member of Molecules Service Group, the International Institute for Studies & Diplomatic Skills, the Authority for Public Service Regulation, Public Authority for Special Economic Zones and Free Zones, the Environment Authority and the Supreme Committee for National Celebrations. Prior to her appointment as undersecretary, she held managerial positions at Oman Aviation Services, Oman Aviation Handling Company, Oman Air and Petroleum Development Oman. Her experience also covers the education sector where she worked for 12 years, mainly with the Ministry of Education and the International College of Engineering & Management (ICEM). She holds a BSc in Business Administration from University of Bedfordshire.


What mechanisms has the ministry put in place to overcome the pandemic's effects in attracting foreign investors?

Our agility in responding to the new demands of a post COVID-19 world, such as removing layers of bureaucracy will be critical to our continuing and future success. In this regard, Invest Easy is just one example of our response - simplifying the process of registering a new business, reducing procedures as well as the time to complete investor transactions. Today, via Invest Easy, investors can obtain approval for more than 1,500 different economic activities, or about 88% of all total economic activities, issuing one single document that includes all licenses and approvals from 10 leading authorities. Since the launch of the new licensing approval service this April, over 45,000 applicants have already received automatic approvals. Prior to the changes, the average period of time to complete the licensing process was 2.4 days. Today, that has been cut to half a day. And the issuing of licenses to international investors has risen from an annual 4,025 to 9,802.

What are the pillars of Oman's competitiveness?

Although we are commonly known for our oil and gas industry, our business strengths do not stop there. Today, Oman is delivering a better than ever pro-business environment, making it even easier for investors to take advantage of the great opportunities that exist in our logistics, manufacturing, tourism, agriculture and fisheries, healthcare, education, mining and renewable energy sectors. We are also an important regional centre for industrial innovation and hi-tech start-ups as well as home to renowned brands that are enjoyed the world over. Combine all this with our young, educated talent base, excellent transport links, world-class industrial estates, free zones, deep-water ports, award-winning airports and globally ranked broadband and internet infrastructure, and you have a clear picture why Oman has a distinct competitive advantage.

With governments worldwide tackling climate change, where are the green investment oppor- tunities in Oman?

Addressing climate change is a major element of Oman Vision 2040, and with Oman's National Energy Strategy we have embarked on a number of renewable energy projects with the goal of generating 30% of our electricity from renewables by 2030. Let me highlight four of these. First, the Harweel Wind Farm in Dhofar, 13 wind turbines developed by GE each with an electricity generation capacity of 3.8MW - the first large-scale wind farm in the GCC. Second is the 500MW solar photovoltaic plant at Ibri, Oman's biggest solar PV project. The third is HYPORT Duqm, a 150-sqkm, 500MW green hydrogen plant on the Special Economic Zone in Duqm. Lastly is the Indian solar energy developer, Acme Group, which will build a green hydrogen and green ammonia production complex in Duqm. Given the initiatives underway as well as those in the pipeline, we are proud to play our role in the prog-ress of renewable energy, helping governments, cities and businesses worldwide realize their net-zero ambitions.

Can you talk us through the program to attract private investment to the Sultanate and support Omani exports?

Launched in March, the program is one of the first major initiatives of Oman Vision 2040 designed to help strengthen Oman's reputation as a bold, sustainable and inspirational business destination. To ensure the program's success, a number of steps have been put in place, these include though are not limited to: planning and developing instruments to help stimulate investments and open up markets; streamlining government services, laws and procedures; developing Oman's special economic and free zones; and enhancing economic efficiency in the governorates. Promoting Oman Made goods and services in international markets is another important aspect of the program. Countries in Africa and Asia that do not get the big media attention can often be fertile ground for Omani exporters willing to enter markets that large multinationals might ignore. Indeed, the Ministry's Investment and Export Team is passionate about encouraging more businesses to get a foothold in international markets.

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