business in Oman

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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.”

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The Oman American Business Center (OABC) hosted its annual Ramadan art exhibition and Iftar in honor of Adatee Hyattee,a Omani group of artists with disabilities. Sponsored by Boeing Middle East, this event is an annual initiative focused on encouraging diversity, understanding and inclusion between communities.

Approximately 100 guests attended, including OABC members, business executives, Omani artists, and US Ambassador Marc Sievers. The event provided a networking platform within an artistic and creative environment. The talented men and women shared their personal journey of pain, hope and inspiration through an impressive display of over 30 works of art.

Rebecca Olson, Executive Director of OABC said, “The Annual Iftar is a favorite event for many OABC members because of the spirit of thankfulness and respect present in the community during the month of Ramadan. Spending time with the artists, seeing their work, and enjoying a meal together creates a space for more than just business networking. We thank each artist who attended, as well as OABC Corporate Member since 2016, Boeing Middle East, for their annual sponsorship of this very memorable event.”

Bernard Dunn, president of Boeing Middle East, North Africa and Turkey said: “Boeing is extremely proud to be a member of the OABC and to spend the evening with Adatee Hyattee and their beautiful art. We know that uniting communities and bringing diverse groups together in an inclusive environment, is essential to the betterment of the global community and economy. We will continue our support for initiatives that build bridges and empower communities here in Oman.”

The OABC not only prioritizes bringing the business community together, but values the participation and involvement from local members of the community, in order to provide its members with new and authentic experiences. Through this year’s event, attendees were able to appreciate more than the artwork on display— they were also given an opportunity to focus on the artists’ own determination; creating opportunity out of their personal struggles.

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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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