OABC News

Here you can browse past OABC events and recent news. Members, please contact us to share your own company promotions and news, as we love to highlight what our members are doing.

Abraham akkawi papp

The Oman American Business Center (OABC) invited its members and special guests to an online introduction to the Public Authority for Privatization and Partnership (PAPP), to discuss the objectives and process of PAPP and to discuss opportunities open to companies in Oman.

Fouad Eid, Vice President of the OABC, welcomed members and introduced the presenter, Mr. Abraham Akkawi, PPP advisor.  Mr. Akkawi defined the work of PAPP clearly for all attendees and discussed the objectives, process and and tendering steps to take when working with the Authority.

Samples of projects currently in the pipeline were discussed, including the Misfah Waste Water Plant, Bundle of Schools, Royal Oman Police Hospital and the new Truck Road in Salalah.

In his remarks about partnering on the event, Mr. Akkawi referred to celebrating PAPP’s one-year anniversary during the first week of July. “PAPP is now one year old, and we are signaling to the local and global market that Oman is ready to start transacting in PPPs in several priority sectors.”

“We are proud to introduce OABC’s 160 member companies to the Public Authority for Privatisation and Partnership today,” says Rebecca Olson, Executive Director of the OABC.  “PAPP is doing a fantastic job during a difficult year, and they’re engaging the private sector and providing access to companies looking for information on PPP’s.  We thank Abraham and other stakeholders for the generous time spent connecting with the business community, and look forward to more collaboration in the future.”

Attendees were given time to ask questions at the end of the session, and more details were given on specific opportunities. Members were invited to the OABC’s next online event: ‘The Oman Project Market in Light of COVID-19,’ to be held on July 21st.  The session welcomes Edward James, Director of Content and Analysis at MEED Projects as presenter, and is open to all members. OABC will also give 20 tickets to the public, on a first come-first serve basis.

In his opening remarks, VP Fouad Eid also thanked the Premium Members of the OABC and all members who have renewed their memberships during COVID-19: “Thanks  to the support of these members, OABC will continue to connect, inform, and strengthen Oman’s business community through programs, events, B2B introductions, and other creative initiatives.”

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crowe website

 

In continuation to Foreign Capital Investment Law issued in July 2019, Ministerial Decision no. 72/2020, promulgating the Executive Regulations of the Foreign Capital Investment Law issued on 14 June 2020, the Sultanate took further steps to ease the investment process. Salient features of the new executive regulations are:

  • Application, approvals, clearance, authorization and payment is going to be online
  • A foreign investor can entrust a bank or management and financial consultancy offices, with the examination of the application for investment authorization and they can issue a certificate.
  • A timeline fixed for the authority to object to the contents of this certificate and to decide on application
  • Application to be submitted with minimum documentary requirements
  • A single approval for the establishment, operation and management of the investment project set up to establish strategic projects
  • Special privileges to projects set up in least developed regions
  • Exemption from taxes, customs and non-customs duties to some specific projects
  • Allocation of land & real estate for investment projects
  • The competent authority shall ensure proper monitoring of the projects

 

Jim Joseph IttyFCACertified in Business valuation (ACCA)

Associate Partner – Corporate Finance

jim.joseph@crowe.om

 

Level 5, The Office, Opposite Muscat Grand Mall

Al Khuwair, P.O Box 971, P.C 131,

Muscat, Sultanate of Oman

T: +968 2403 6300

www.crowe.om

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On Monday, June 29, OABC hosted its first-ever ‘Virtual Speed Networking’ event.

During the event, the OABC team recreated the efficiency of in-person speed networking (our tenth such event), but in an online environment using ZOOM breakout rooms.  The afternoon was an exciting and innovative way to meet other members and business professionals, one person at a time, in a fast-paced environment.  Members met a new professional connection every three minutes.

The event was appreciated by many, and in considering the event’s popular demand, OABC will host another virtual speed networking event in September.

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U.S. Ambassador to the Sultanate of Oman Leslie M. Tsou underscored the potential of Oman’s ports and aviation industries to contribute to the country’s GDP and bilateral trade in her opening remarks at a June 24 webinar for U.S. businesses, trade associations, and local stakeholders.

Top officials from Oman’s Public Authority for Investment Promotion & Export Development (Ithraa), Oman Aviation Group, and the three main ports and free zones of Salalah, Duqm, and Sohar presented on opportunities for U.S. businesses.  The presenters stressed their readiness to partner with U.S. companies on multi-modal transportation system plans in the logistics sector.
For more information, check out the individual speaker presentations from the webinar:

Presenters included:

Azzan Al-Busaidi, CEO, Public Authority for Investment Promotion & Export Development (Ithraa)
Mustafa Al-Hinai, CEO, Oman Aviation Group;
Mark Hardiman, CEO, Port of Salalah;
Robert Bartstra, Executive Commercial Manager, Sohar Port & Freezone; and
Saleh Alhasani Director General of Investor Services, SEZAD

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On June 21st, Muscat Daily and OABC hosted an insightful webinar on ‘Educating Our Children in the New Normal’. The session discussed the transition of educational teaching methods to online platforms and different approaches to learning from home.

A key theme was to create a routine that suits your lifestyle and to maintain a balance between learning, engaging in physical activity and expressing oneself creatively.

We give special thanks to the panelists and OABC member Sue Groesbeck, Head of ABA, an IB World School for moderating the session and addressing this imperative subject during these unprecedented times.

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A fun evening with our staff, board and members of the OABC — our first-ever virtual cooking class with Chef @ilias_doulamis of the @grandhyattmuscat was a wonderful experience.

Members enjoyed cooking, watching, and learning traits of Italian cuisine while making potato gnocchi with rocket pesto and seasonal vegetables. We thank members for coming on board and trusting our first attempt at a more ‘social’ event — very different to a usual OABC event but we all enjoyed the opportunity to reconnect.

We give thanks to Paul Murphy GM of the Grand Hyatt and OABC Board member for sponsoring the cooking class and a very special thanks to Chef Doulamis for his time and effort in preparation for this evening.

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On June 15th, OABC hosted a Sector Update on Logistics in Oman during and after Covid-19.

Premium Member Companies DHL Express, Port of Salalah and RA Logistics participated a panel discussion moderated by Mr. Warith Al Kharusi, Chairman of Al Safwa Group and Board Member of Oman Logistics Association.

Moustafa Osman, Mark Hardiman and Colin Mckinlay answered questions on the changes and challenges faced by each of their individual businesses and discussed the future of logistical operations in Oman.
We give special thanks to each and every panelist, moderator and our Media partner @imagineOman

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On Wednesday, May 20, the OABC and members of the greater business community gathered virtually for a legal webinar in partnership with Global Advocacy and Legal Counsel (GALC).

The session addressed the following topics:
• Postponement of Tax
• Postponement of Shareholders Annual General Meetings
• Termination of Employment Relationships
• Termination of Tenancy Relationships

The event started with a talk from experts at GALC on the above topics, followed by engaging Q & A’s from members.

Global Advocacy and Legal Counsel Representatives included:
• Abdulredha Al Lawati, Partner, Oman
• Nasser Al Osaiba, Managing Partner, UAE
• Omar Al Shomali, Counsel, Hd of Corporate & Commercial

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On Monday, May 18, the OABC and members of the greater business community gathered virtually for a webinar in partnership with Amcham Bahrain and The Sedge Group.

There is immense interest in doing business with the U.S. Government. The United States government spends, on average, more than $4 trillion on goods and services each year. Everything from food supplies for ships, to office pens, and everything in between are acquired through contracts with global businesses. The session walked members through the various steps to put them on the right path to increasing revenue in this sector. One step included, ensuring one’s company is properly registered in the various government portals so attendees know where and how to bid for service contracts.

About the Author

Michael Sedge, writer, author, producer, entrepreneur and president of The Sedge Group, LLC as well as The Michael-Bruno Group of Companies (USA, Bahrain, Djibouti, Italy). Sedge is a global expert on working with the U.S. government, with 40 years experience. He is a former regional president of AMCHAM Italy, founder of the American Business Council of Djibouti, and a regional director of the Society of American Military Engineers. Mr. Sedge has lectured on doing business with the American government to groups around the world.

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According to news reports, in a statement issued by the Saudi state news agency, Mohammed Al-Jadaan, the Finance Minister of Saudi Arabia, has announced an increase in the rate of VAT from 5% to 15% in Saudi Arabia from 1 July 2020.

The announcement comes after Saudi Arabia posted a budget deficit of USD 9.07 billion in the first quarter of 2020 and is reported to have cancelled/postponed certain operating and capital expenditure and also cut allocations on projects worth USD 26.6 billion.

The austerity measures are intended to help Saudi Arabia stabilize non-oil revenues and cope with public finances currently pressured by low oil prices and Covid-19. This, however, comes as an unexpected move after the recent tax announcements by the General Authority for Zakat and Tax easing tax return filing, tax payment and penalty provisions to help businesses navigate the impact of Covid-19.

The move also seems to be a deviation from the Common VAT Agreement of the States of the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC Common VAT Framework Agreement) that only empowers member-states to levy VAT at the standard rate of 5% on taxable supplies that are not specifically exempt or zero rated (Article 25).

To access our detailed tax alert on the implications of the increase in the VAT rate in Saudi Arabia please click here.

Development in the UAE

The United Arab Emirates (UAE) introduced VAT on 1 January 2018, the same time as Saudi Arabia, and is faced by similar economic pressures. However, according to recent news reports, in an official statement issued after the announcement by Saudi Arabia, UAE’s Ministry of Finance has confirmed that they have no current intentions to increase the rate of VAT.

Budgetary Challenges in Oman

Oman, like many other countries in the region and outside, is significantly challenged with the sharp slump in international oil prices and the economic instability created by Covid-19 that continue to impact the country’s credit rating. Since the beginning of 2020, the Ministry of Finance has issued many circulars and a set of directives to government units to reduce the volume of spending. In April 2020, the Ministry of Finance announced a cut of OMR 500 million in the State Budget.

Oman has been preparing for the introduction of VAT for quite some time. This includes drafting the VAT law and executive regulations, as well as having systems in place to implement VAT when the government takes a decision on the implementation date. In an interview with Bloomberg at the World Economic Forum 2020 in Davos earlier in January this year, His Excellency Ali bin Masoud Al Sunaid, Minister of Commerce and Industry in Oman, confirmed that Oman would introduce VAT “sometime during the beginning of 2021”.

Given recent unexpected challenges, Oman may consider the possibility of implementing VAT more quickly, in a phased manner. In this case, businesses may not have a long period of time to prepare for implementation. 

VAT impacts businesses beyond finance and, among others, warrants a review of processes, systems, documentation, compliances, policies, contracts and pricing. The experience of businesses in other GCC countries, where VAT has already been implemented, shows that preparing for the introduction of VAT requires careful planning and time. However, the process is usually rushed once VAT legislation is announced with a short implementation period, resulting in, sometimes, costly errors. It is, therefore, important that businesses in Oman do not delay their plans for preparing for VAT implementation based on existing VAT legislations in the GCC and the GCC Common VAT Framework Agreement. Once the Oman VAT legislation is issued businesses can update the work already done and be fully ready.
KPMG has a dedicated team of experienced VAT implementation specialists based in Oman. If you need any assistance with VAT implementation in Oman, please reach out to your tax advisors at KPMG or the contacts mentioned below.
Ashok Hariharan
Partner | Head of Tax
AHariharan@kpmg.com
Rhys Penning
Partner | Indirect Tax
rpenning@kpmg.com
Abha Lekhak
Director, Indirect Tax
alekhak2@kpmg.com