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After Oman and the US announced a new scheme which allows the citizens of both the countries to get ten-year multiple-entry visas replacing the earlier system where the visas were valid for only two years, Omanis and Americans alike have welcomed the decision saying it will further boost trade relations and open up more opportunities between the two countries.

While Omanis have been getting ten-year visas since January this year, US citizens started getting the same from last week onwards. In remarks to Muscat Daily, Rebecca Olson, executive director Oman American Business Center (OABC), said, “As the international affiliate of the US Chamber of Commerce in Oman, the Oman American Business Center is pleased with this move to further facilitate trade and commercial development between the US and the sultanate.

“Many of our members often travel back and forth and this will make things easier for all. There are still many opportunities for those who wish to take advantage of the US-Oman Free Trade Agreement, which will continue to benefit both nations after this ten-year mark.”

As Oman’s free trade agreement with the US marks ten years, the move is a complementary step towards good relations.
Talal al Subhi, executive director of Rohn Products International Arabia, said, “The new system will obviously bring more businesses between both the countries. It is a good move because before we used to get visas every two years but now we will do so once in ten years.”

However, Subhi informed that even though the visa is issued and valid for ten years, entry to the US is not fully guaranteed as a few questions will be asked at immigration there.

“First-timers need to understand that entry is not guaranteed even if they have visas and the entry is subject to the approval of immigration officers at the port of entry who will ask a few questions,” he said.

Subhi and his American partners in tower manufacturing plant in Sohar have suggested that Oman Air should start direct flights to the US.

“Oman Air should consider starting direct flights to two or three cities in the US and this will boost further the businesses between both countries. And by having direct Oman Air flights, this means there would be counters to cater to the vetting of travelers from Oman and in case of anything, they would be informed before departing to the US,” he said.

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Rhon is one of the American Omani partnership companies and has set up 10,000 towers. It has also constructed the tallest tower in Oman at a height of 279m.

Marla Valdez, an American lawyer based in Oman, said, “I believe this new ten-year visa extension is a significant milestone in the longstanding relationship between the US and Oman and a development that should further extend the bilateral cooperation at many levels.”

She added, “As a board member of the Oman American Business Center, as well as being both a US citizen and an Oman resident, I obviously feel very proud of this achievement. I am confident that it will encourage tourism and business between the two countries, and that it will lead to other positive measures going forward.”

Mundhir al Alawi, who fell in love with American donuts during his studies in the US, and later founded 3rd Street Donuts in Muscat, said, “I travel to the US three times a year and this move is great and our travels to the US are now hassle-free. The move will enhance many other business opportunities. It will be a complement to the free trade agreement with the US.”


The Oman American Business Center (OABC), in a bid to foster closer relationships and business partnerships between regional AmChams (American Chambers of Commerce), hosted the first-ever GCC Regional AmCham Summit at Anantara Jebel Akhdar Resort on June 14 and 15.

“As AmCham affiliates in the GCC, we share one vision and mission. Of course, we also face similar challenges,” said Rebecca Olson, Executive Director of the OABC. “At what we trust will be the first of several meetings to come, we discovered several new ways to overcome these challenges as well as support each other and partner within the region.”

Olson continued, “When we invited regional AmCham leaders to attend this, the first-ever summit of its kind in the region, it was encouraging to see that not a single one hesitated.”

The GCC AmChams represent over 1,000 member companies and millions of dollars of US investment in the region. They are the go to organisations in each country for anything US trade and opportunities related.

Mary McGinnis, Executive Director, American Chamber of Commerce in Bahrain, stated that, “AmCham Bahrain is pleased to participate in this, the first Gulf Regional AmCham Summit. We recognise the power of communication and collaboration and look forward to building closer ties with our neighboring AmChams. In doing so we can bring more value to our members and increase regional, as well as US-Bahrain, trade.”

The two-day event brought together executive directors and board members representing AmChams in Oman, Abu Dhabi, Dubai, Kuwait and Bahrain, to discuss opportunities for increased collaboration. This included partnering on joint trade missions to and from the US and bringing key speakers to the region for business events. The delegates also discussed best practices across several key points of interest that could further support member companies, ranging from communication and digital platforms to event planning and benefit programs.

Esra Cavdarli Menke, Executive Director of AmCham Kuwait said, “The event was a tremendous opportunity to learn what best practices other AmChams are using to promote greater US business relationships with our allies in the region.”

The Oman American Business Center is now finalizing its 2019-2020 calendar of events. Last year the organisation hosted 27 events in line with its mission to help support the Oman business community and to increase trade and commercial development between the Sultanate and the United States. At each event, executives and decision-makers in Oman meet, build relationships, learn and discuss key matters of interest to the business community.

KIMCT OABC at Soi Soi 16

We would like to thank the Kempinski Hotel Muscat for inviting OABC’s Premium Membership* to Soi Soi Restaurant’s launch of “Bangkok By Night” last Saturday, June 15th.

The event continues every week — Diners experience all-you-can-eat signature delicacies inspired by Thailand’s street food, from 6:30 to 11 PM: OMR 12 Per Person, OMR 10 House Beverages Package.

Special exclusive offer for OABC: Kempinski Hotel Muscat would like to offer a ‘Complimentary Welcome Drink’ for every OABC member who attends. Offer is valid upon using a valid OABC membership card.

*OABC Premium members enjoy exclusive events, regular OABC events, complimentary products and promotions, advertising to business-focused email lists, invitations to trade shows, sponsorship opportunities, and special invitations to meet VIPs and stakeholders.



KIMCT OABC at Soi Soi 10


KIMCT OABC at Soi Soi 9

Kempinski Hotel Muscat Bangkok by Night at Soi Soi

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Twenty Northeastern University students representing family businesses from around the world, together with professors, panellists, and OABC board members, participated in the Oman Family Business Forum, organised by the Oman American Business Center at the Grand Hyatt Muscat on March 4. The event, which ended with a special dinner reception at the residence of U.S. Ambassador Marc J Sievers, was sponsored by Daud Group of Companies.

Members of the OABC participated in two panel discussions, both designed to encourage and impart knowledge to the students, who are about to graduate and enter their own family businesses.

The first panel invited executives from top companies in Oman to share about their experiences in serving a family business as a career, including lessons learned during times of transition to new or younger leadership. The second panel, with next-generation leaders from Oman’s top companies, focused on innovation and the impact that these young leaders have been able to make since graduating and entering the family business.

“Family is of utmost importance in Omani society, and it’s our job to help prepare and assist the next generation of leaders,” says Ali Daud, CEO and President of Daud Group of Companies.

“In addition, young people inspire us every day with their energy, innovative minds, and unique outlook. We are excited to support the students’ learning experience in partnership with the OABC.”

“We are thrilled with the willingness of our members, each of whom are busy executives, to offer their time and support during a critical point in these students’ lives,” says Rebecca Olson, Executive Director of the OABC. “Providing a space for the exchange of ideas and the building up of understanding is a key objective of the OABC. We are grateful for the opportunity to host these students and also to discuss a topic of such great importance and interest to the Oman business community.”

From Oman Observer.

Find more photos here.

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Rebecca Olson, executive director of the Muscat-based Oman American Business Center, speaks to about her role, Oman’s future as a key business destination, how she spends her downtime, and her love of Welsh cakes.

What are your main responsibilities? I manage the Oman American Business Center, together with the Board of Directors. I help connect people and companies to the organization and expand their networks in the greater business community, constantly add new benefits and other programs that bring value to our member companies, plan events that interest the members, and can always be seen buzzing around networking, meeting stakeholders, and coming up with ideas and new ways to highlight our members.

What are your company’s Unique Selling Points (USPs) in Oman? We are the most active business networking community in Oman, with over 30 events per year, and are not exclusive only to US and Omani companies, but to all who hope to connect, promote and stay in the know about business happenings in the Sultanate. We are also the official affiliate of the US Chamber of Commerce here in Oman. We help US companies enter Oman, and Omani companies explore business in the US.

What achievement are you most proud of I am really glad that since taking on this role at the organization, member feedback has been extremely positive.I care about each member and the experience they’re having in the organization, so this means a lot. People love the active, non-stop nature, back to back events, and opportunities to connect with others that we’ve provided, and I’ve certainly helped to multiply the number of initiatives and events. I also helped create our brand new website, which is a hit.

What would you still like to achieve (in life, leisure or business)? What a deep question! Professionally, I’d like to see the OABC grow and specifically, plan trade delegations in both directions (Oman – US).I love Oman, and hope to do everything I can to assist in efforts to attract more foreign investors here. Personally, I’d like to see my kids grow up to be kind, smart and compassionate people who go far in whichever field they choose, but I suppose that is their own achievement!

What do you think makes Oman an attractive destination to do business?Oman is a peaceful, naturally stunning, hidden gem. Its people are generous, kind and hospitable. In business, the size of the community and the accessibility of the country’s government and business leaders is unique.If you do well here, everyone knows quickly. That can work the opposite way too, but I still think this can be a huge plus for those looking to enter a new market well.

Oman’s location is a huge plus. Close to key markets, on global shipping routes, great relationships with neighboring countries… Finally, Oman’s government wants to make things work for investors and is flexible and willing to work with companies to find solutions and ways to invest here. There are a number of free zones, state of the art ports, and industrial estates…I’m glad I’m here in Oman at this time.

What sectors do you think will thrive in Oman and the UK in the coming years and why? Logistics + Tourism. There is a lot of emphasis being placed on logistics, especially following the Tanfeedh initiative, and Oman already has a very strong infrastructure. China will have a part to play here, and of course Asyad has a lot to manage as things continue to grow. Tourism: as far as I can see, the numbers (of hotel rooms, tourists, cruise ships docking, etc) go up annually and I think steady growth is always a good thing.

What is the best business advice you have ever received? Thank people well when they do something for you. This is a really big deal here, and in every country I’ve worked in.

Favourite destinations in Oman and why? I really like the Daminiyat Islands. That water is so clear and it feels like a day trip to the Maldives! Not really possible to pick one favorite place, but that was the last place I went for a day trip, so will go with this one for now.

Favourite destinations in the UK and why? The Cotswolds. It’s the cutest place on earth and every American loves the Christmas movie “The Holiday” with Jude Law and Cameron Diaz and wants to celebrate the holidays in a little cottage there. I also love Wales and their yummy Welsh cakes.

Favourite restaurant in Oman and UK? Turkish House is always a favorite of our guests (and apparently many others, on TripAdvisor!). Big fan of their consistency, it’s wonderful every time, plus it’s family-friendly. Tayyabs in East London is a fav when we visit friends there, but we have to deal with a wait, which is always a good sign.

Describe your character in five words? Friendly, honest, driven, creative, quick.

What are your hobbies? Songwriting and guitar, swimming/hiking exploring Oman, camping, board games.

What five things would you take to a desert island? Knife, net, flare gun, Bible, blanket.

What public figures do you most admire and why? Personally: Mother Theresa, for her compassion, never-ceasing service, and perspective. Publicly: His Majesty the Sultan for his amazingly peaceful reign, generosity, wisdom, love for his people…I think H.M. should receive a Nobel Prize for his contribution to the whole region.


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