VISIONARY APPROACH

Oman 2018 | ECONOMY | INTERVIEW

TBY talks to Khalid Ali Salim Al Senaidi, Head of Vision 2040 Office, on the steps involved in drafting Oman's Vision 2040, ensuring maximum community engagement, and identifying key sectors.

 Khalid Ali Salim Al Senaidi
BIOGRAPHY
Khalid Ali Salim Al Senaidi was appointed Head of the Oman Vision 2040 to establish and run an office to develop the vision through a wide participatory approach. Before his appointment in 2016, he was project manager of Musandam Development Project and, before that, financial analyst with the Supreme Council for Planning. He holds an MSc from Sultan Qaboos University, an MSc with distinction from University of Manchester, and a BSc in finance from Sultan Qaboos University.

What are the guidelines for preparing Vision 2040?

The main guidelines are the Royal Directives of His Majesty Sultan Qaboos bin Said, which stipulated that Oman's Vision 2040 will be thoroughly developed and precisely formulated with wide community participation and consensus. Hence, the process will entail engaging the different societal groups, so that the vision is fully integrated into the economic and social realities of Oman and objectively orientated toward the future. This will enable it to serve as a key guide and reference for all planning efforts of the Sultanate in the next two decades.

What has been achieved so far in this journey?

The journey started with the engagement of committees with different stakeholders representing various sectors and the Omani community at large, as this is an important project for Oman's future. Our starting point was to conduct an in-depth research on Oman's current status, followed by extensive brainstorming between the different committees, ministries, the private sector, academics, community representatives, and other stakeholders to identify Oman's national priorities for the coming two decades. Based on those priorities, we have set out three main themes for the vision, namely: People and Society, Economy and Development, and Governance and Institutional Performance, where each theme comprises a number of key pillars.

What will the next phase of preparing Oman 2040 Vision entail?

The next phase will involve assessing the key pillars and issues identified in the first phase against the outcomes of the foresight and scenario phase in order to decide on different directions for the pillars and key issues that will still be relevant in 2040 in order for the vision to be realized. Consequently, we will draft the initial vision and present it at the National Conference in 4Q2018. The National Conference will be designed to ensure maximum community engagement, with creative interaction methods to receive additional feedback from participants before the final vision is announced. As we progress, stakeholder engagement will continue to become wider. For example, inclusion of the views of young Omanis, women, and students will continue to be essential. Furthermore, this vision is for everyone in Oman, and we have invited other communities that live and work here to be engaged as well. While the vision is focused on socio-economic development in the coming two decades, it will also preserve our Omani identity and rich cultural heritage.

Which sectors will become most important for Vision 2040?

The Sultanate, via the Ninth Five-Year Development Plan and Tanfeedh, has already identified five promising sectors for economic diversification: tourism, logistics, manufacturing, fisheries, and mining. The vision will continue to focus on these strategic sectors as it does not seek to re-invent the wheel, but rather build on previous efforts undertaken by Oman. In addition, the vision will focus on other areas that Oman has a competitive edge in, which may include but are not limited to clean and renewable energy, data, innovation, creative industries, and entrepreneurship. Furthermore, developing ICT will, for example, aid the development of tourism or renewable energy. ICT has an impact on all fields; it is the backbone of development. Governance is also the same. We have to consider whether Oman needs to be more innovative as a country to start things here in the region. This is an issue we need to decide on.

What specific plans do you have to move this program forward in 2018?

We have a technical milestone for 2018, along with other goals that are more related to stakeholder engagement. We have a communications strategy under which we have initiatives to ensure that everyone in Oman is engaged in this process. There will be consultation initiatives in the public and private sectors as well as for students and other groups in the Omani society. This will enable us to include their proposals and perspectives within the future directions and long-term objectives of Oman Vision 2040.