CORPORATE STRATEGY

Oman 2018 | ECONOMY | INTERVIEW

TBY talks to Khalid Al Yahmadi, CEO of Muscat National Development and Investment Company (ASAAS), on its projects to diversify Oman's economy, sectors with growth potential, and its goals for 2018.

Khalid Al Yahmadi
BIOGRAPHY
Khalid Al Yahmadi is the CEO of ASAAS, a semi-government company set up in 2014 to assist the government in diversifying its revenue streams. He is the founder of Amjaad Group, one of the leading real estate development and engineering companies in Oman, and California-based Amjaad Investments USA. He has served on the board of OMRAN, Migros, and the Oman Society of Engineers. Currently, he also serves as the Chairman of Salam Air, the first and the only low-cost airline in the Sultanate of Oman.

Where does ASAAS fit into Oman's diversification plan?

ASAAS is one of the largest real estate development and investment companies in the country. In line with our mandate, we developed the corporate strategy of the company and drafted a 10-year business plan, which aims to create OMR1 billion (USD2.6 billion) of projects. When we started our operations, we based our corporate strategy around the key economic sectors already identified by the government, including, among others, tourism, logistics, and healthcare. ASAAS' approach in developing these sectors is investing in projects that will enhance the entire value chain. In the real estate sector, we are in the final phase of developing our pilot project—a Hilton Garden Inn Hotel. The common theme among our projects both real estate and others is keeping social impact and financial return at the forefront. We are currently working on a project with Oman Air to develop a reporting terminal for its cabin crew and is expected to be ready in the first half of 2018. The project is being developed by ASAAS and upon completion will be leased to the government-owned national carrier. Another project in the tourism supply chain is developing the much-needed Hayy Al Sharq (HAS) in Barka, 45 minutes away from Muscat International Airport. At present the country lacks entertainment destinations of international standards and as a result people travel to other countries in the region for leisure, resulting in capital flight from the country. Hayy Al Sharq will bring entertainment to our doorsteps and assist in attracting tourists to the country. In addition, we are working with different government and private-sector institutions on various projects, all of which will assist in the diversification of the national economy. As a result of all our initiatives, we have been selected together with two other companies as a preferred real estate developer by the government of Oman.

What specific projects will you be working on in 2018?

We are working on a number of exciting projects in education, healthcare and tourism throughout the country. One such project is the redevelopment of the Institute of Public Administration (IPA) building. The first such PPP project in ASAAS, it is innovatively structured to maximize the gains of the private party whilst removing the need for the government to fund a public premises. The project aims to redevelop the IPA's premises into a world-class training facility together with a three-star hotel and lifestyle retail complex. The project will bring unique and modern architectural features to the area. Another project we are working upon is setting up a tourism experience company, which will offer extreme sports and experiences to the locals and tourists something that is lacking in the country. It is important for us and also for the sustainability of any project to ensure we have the right partners—something that requires a great deal of effort but is rewarding in the long term.

Where do you see the most growth in the country?

The Sultanate is blessed with an exceptional beauty and landscape, something we have a competitive advantage in over other countries in the region. We continue to believe that tourism coupled with the geographical location of the country are the unique selling points of the country and have the potential to be the most important sectors contributing to the local economy. It is important for us to upscale the offerings and experiences in the country in line with the global standards.

What are the specific objectives for 2018 that ASAAS would like to meet?

We have done all the ground work for a number of our projects, where we have structured the investments and partnered up with the best institutions. Now in the second stage of growth, our main objective for 2018 is to attract co-investors for our projects from different parts of the world such as the GCC, Asia, Europe, and the US.