The Business Year

Rebecca Olson

OMAN - Economy

Rebecca Olson

Executive Director, Oman American Business Centre (OABC)

Bio

Rebecca Olson has been in Oman since 2013 and leads the staff team at OABC. After completing her masters of science in communications and global business at Rochester Institute of Technology, she gained over 10 years of experience working in public relations and marketing for both non-profit and for-profit organizations in the US, Kenya, and Oman. She worked as the director of communications for a Boston-based nonprofit, and often pitched urgent press releases to large media outlets and wrote speeches for use at international events, UN panel presentations, and US congressional hearings. After moving to Muscat, she founded Olson LLC, a writing and editing company that specializes in web content, information architecture, marketing plans, and other professional materials for a diverse clientele.

OABC's initiatives are all aimed at building strong relationships and demonstrating Oman's openness to business and investment.

What have been some of the initiatives that have helped keep your network connected over the past year?

OABC has been extremely active in Oman for almost two decades and is best known for its high-level networking, professional seminars, and other business events, which were traditionally done in person. When the pandemic hit, we adapted quickly to move everything online. This has provided an opportunity to remind members that OABC is not only an events-focused organization but rather a trade-focused US Chamber of Commerce affiliate and professional network. During the pandemic, OABC introduced executives and member companies to each other via email, digital events, and Zoom professional networking sessions. OABC surveys its member companies about their needs during the pandemic, and we send updates regularly with important news, from opportunities within different sectors to regional travel guidelines and key legislative or tax changes. We have also launched a mobile app for companies to offer member-to-member benefits, and we have built strong connections with other AmChams in the GCC region.

Which sectors are currently exhibiting the most potential for investment by American companies?

There are opportunities in several sectors, including fisheries, mining, tourism, manufacturing, logistics, plus IT/data centers, education, and sustainable tech/green hydrogen. 50 new opportunities were put forth in the manufacturing and industrial sector recently by the government, and a portal will soon be launched outlining details of many more. The Omani government is extremely open to supporting investors, and willing to cooperate and incentivize business in a variety of ways. Finally, the country itself is extremely welcoming, peaceful, and stable, with a prime location in the region, outside the Strait of Hormuz. Exporters are happy to know that the Port of Salalah has a 2-week direct line to the US. As an American myself, I personally enjoy the freedom and benefits the FTA offers: we are always looking to share the many positives of life and business in Oman with companies looking to come to this region.

How does the OABC promote the US Oman FTA, as well as trade and investment between Oman and the US?

The FTA will celebrate its 12-year anniversary this year. Since its inception, trade between Oman and the US has more than doubled. As Oman is one of just 20 countries in the world with a US FTA, it is imperative that businesses and people know how to access information about to take advantage of it. OABC constantly finds new ways to promote its benefits and invite Omani, international, and American companies to explore the FTA further. We do this by hosting events, webinars, and workshops to help Omani companies navigate entry to the US, and for US companies to learn more about current opportunities in Oman. We make B2B introductions between companies looking to import U.S. products or find distributors for Omani products. We also heavily promote the Oman-US FTA via several channels. This year, in partnership with the US Embassy Muscat and MOCIIP, we have created a short film highlighting success stories of American, Omanis, and foreign investors profiting from the FTA. Our members had an opportunity to sit down with His Excellency, Qais Al Yousef, at the Ministry of Commerce, Industry and Investment Promotion for an exclusive virtual majlis event this year where he answered open-ended questions from the private sector and shared about Vision 2040 and upcoming opportunities for investors in Oman. This event is a great example of private/public sector discussion and the sorts of sessions that OABC hosts for its members, which help to build strong relationships and show Oman’s openness to business and investment. One of our goals in 2021 is to see the opening of a US commercial office in Washington DC, which would greatly improve trade and support Omani companies entering the world’s largest market.

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