Ali Al Rasbi, Acting CEO, Omran: Interview

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Ali Al Rasbi, Acting CEO, Omran

Interview: Ali Al Rasbi

What criteria must be met to build the core infrastructure to support tourism as an major driver?

ALI AL RASBI: The continued expansion of tourism infrastructure represents one of Oman’s key focus areas, as it is essential that we continue the drive to diversify the economy, especially now with oil prices where they are. Tourism is one of the obvious choices to focus growth around, not only because of the country’s natural beauty, but also because of its potential to contribute to GDP. The variety of opportunities within the sector mean there is potential to build multiple industries and a supply chain around tourism products, and make a greater contribution to GDP as the sector grows. Holistic tourism development is a relatively new concept to Oman, so the responsibility to build the sector falls on all stakeholders, not just on the government or the private sector.

The priorities now are to de-bottleneck the tourism infrastructure and boost tourist numbers. The key elements are focused around four goals. The first is increasing the number of hotel rooms across all ratings. It’s no secret that we have a shortage of accommodation for tourists, so encouraging investments in hotels is a top priority. The second goal is developing the meetings, incentives, conferences, and exhibitions segment. The third is to build capacity in master planning, such as with the Madinat Al Irfan Urban Development Project. We expect this to further integrate tourism and urban planning to a sustainable model which can be used to develop cities all across the sultanate. Lastly there is a focus on enhancing the country’s entertainment offering. Having entertainment facilities will greatly assist in attracting tourists to our hotels and resorts.

How do you assess the country’s strategy when it comes to defining the tourism product of Oman?

RASBI: The appetite for selective tourism is big in Oman, because we have the natural attractions, as well as peace, prosperity and security. The trick now is just to put all of these pieces of the puzzle together in a way that is marketable to the rest of the world. We are very far from the saturation point in the tourism market. Once we link the facilities with the supply chain, and enhance the connectivity of the sector, the people will come. In this way we can see that all stakeholders in the sector know what they have to do. Our job, working with the Ministry of Tourism and the private sector, is to build both the hard and soft facilities. This involves enabling others, setting standards, and encouraging joint ventures and public-private partnerships. There are very good facilities coming up, both with Omani enterprises and international companies. As I mentioned, the scope for development and investment is still huge because we are very far from saturation in this area.

How can small and medium-sized enterprises best be supported to contribute to the development of the tourism sector?

RASBI: We are focusing on various angles to enhance local development and local content. As the sector grows, one of our key goals is to develop a wide range of employment opportunities for Omanis. We must keep in mind that tourism development is still relatively new in terms of size. What we do not want is for companies to come in, build and leave. Here at Omran, we developed an approach which encompasses the full development cycle, whereby we oversee each phase – from concepts to construction – and factor in the local element at every stage of the process. This system is a successful one.

This illustrates the strategic, sustainable direction that the government is now taking alongside Omran to develop the sector, whereby we accelerate the drive to develop and build hard infrastructure and allow the private sector to focus on developing the profit-making sections of the supply chain.

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The Report: Oman 2016

The Guide

Tourism chapter from The Report: Oman 2016

Tourism chapter from The Guide

Cover of The Report: Oman 2016

The Report

This article is from the Tourism chapter of The Report: Oman 2016. Explore other chapters from this report.

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