EXTENDING A WARM WELCOME

Oman 2020 | ECONOMY | INTERVIEW

ISC's focus on speeding up foreign investment processes has transformed the center into a driver of private-sector growth in the Omani economy.

Ibrahim Al Maamari
BIOGRAPHY

Ibrahim Al Maamari was appointed CEO of ISC in 2019. In addition to his current role, Al Maamari is also a member of member of the Oman Oil Refineries and Petroleum Industries (Orpic) Minor Tender Board. Before his current role as CEO of ISC, he was the procurement and contracts manager of Orpic, which he joined as a senior lifting scheduler. Before joining Orpic, Al Maamari was a planning engineer for Petroleum Development Oman and a technical service engineer for Exxon. He holds a bachelor of engineering in petroleum engineering from Sultan Qaboos University, a CMI level 5 certificate in leadership and management, and a Harvard manage mentor certificate.

What role is ISC set to play in advancing the international reputation of Oman as a business destination?
ISC was established to improve investment-related services in Oman, and the Invest Easy is a portal designed and developed as a single window for investors and business owners to apply for company registrations and business licenses. This system's availability and the initiatives that accompany it have tremendously improved the Sultanate's Ease of Doing Business 2020 ranking, taking it from 78th to 68th. Recently, ISC has supported committed investors facing implementation issues. Moving forward, the center will be tasked with playing a more prominent and central role in coordinating, resolving, and tracking project implementation. This will enable ISC to forge a more meaningful relationship with investors to ensure they obtain on-ground support to realize their investments. The ease with which individuals can engage in business in a country is a fundamental indicator of how progressive and forward-thinking the country is; hence, ISC's role and its initiatives are central to improving the Sultanate's international business reputation.

What is ISC's medium-term growth strategy, and how is it aligned to the goals of the Ministry of Commerce and Industry, Tanfeedh, and Oman Vision 2040?
The Ministry of Commerce and Industry is the central institution responsible for the administration of company registrations and issuance of business licenses. ISC's medium-term plan is focused on improving and enhancing its service delivery model, in order to enable the effective administration and implementation of investment-related services. As such, ISC's medium-term strategy is anchored on two main initiatives: the complete integration of Invest Easy with key public and private sector entities and the accelerated registration and licensing of businesses, and improvement of project facilitation. ISC aims to integrate the Invest Easy portal with over 70 public- and private-sector entities. To date, over 40 entities have achieved some form of integration with Invest Easy. The urgency to complete integration is to ensure that Invest Easy improves its services as a single window for investors and business owners when interfacing with the government on all services related to investment facilitation. Beyond its responsibility of administering company registration and issuing of licenses, ISC will seek to improve the Sultanate's project facilitation framework, ensure clarity, accountability, and responsibility, and monitor project progress. Government institutions are inherently complex when dealing with projects that require stakeholder engagement, approvals, and buy-in. ISC understands that project implementation requires constant coordination, frequent problem solving, timely escalation, and issue resolution to give investors the necessary support to complete projects and ultimately help build and catalyze the economy. At the end of the day, ISC is a tool to achieve the goals established by national plans such as Tanfeedh and Vision 2040. By granting an easy investment environment to foreign capital holders keen to do business in Oman, ISC, as mandated by Foreign Capital Investment Law, contributes to the diversification and balanced growth of the national economy.

How will relationships between local and foreign private sectors evolve moving forward?
The promulgation of the Privatization Law, PPP Law, and Foreign Capital Investment Law will significantly impact Oman's investment landscape, as a holistic approach has been undertaken to ensure a private sector-driven economy. These laws will not only provide assurances to investors, but also guide the development of new and future policies tailored to the needs of the changing global business environment. The introduction of such laws has resulted in institutional reforms as well. With the injection of foreign capital into the economy, the spillover effects will present numerous opportunities for local private-sector players to develop complementary or supporting business for the industry. With the promulgation of all three laws, the Sultanate expects efforts and initiatives that will contribute to the development of the national economy, enhance local added value, diversify sources of income, build local capability, increase employment opportunities, and strengthen the capital market.