Oman has historically been one of the smaller markets in the GCC. A smaller population and more limited oil and gas resources than its neighbours have traditionally meant that sits behind Kuwait and Qatar and ahead of Bahrain in terms of annual contract awards. But that is not to say that the Sultanate does not offer a variety of interesting opportunities for contractors, consultants and suppliers alike. In recent years, there have been a number of large-scale projects across different sectors such as the Duqm refinery, the new Muscat international airport, and the Batinah expressway scheme among others.
Like most countries Oman was hit hard by the Covid-19 pandemic. However, unlike most countries in the region, its projects market actually grew by nearly 20 per cent year-on-year, albeit from a much lower base. There was not one single large project award behind this increase; rather it was a series of midrange projects across the transport and water sectors that helped reach the total, many of which were financed by regional development funds.
This year the Sultanate is set to perform a little more badly. Spending on projects for the first 9 months of the year of $3.5bn suggests that it will do well to reach the $5bn 2019 number let alone last year’s $5.9bn.
Future projects performance will hinge more than ever on foreign investment in its major industrial hubs in Sohar, Duqm and Salalah. Chinese investment in particular will be key as part of its Belt and Road Initiative to benefit from Oman’s position on the main East-West shipping axis. Also critical will be the development of the Sultanate’s PPP project plans to obtain more private sector involvement in the funding, construction and operation of future projects. In the absence of major government capital expenditure, private sector financing will be pivotal in getting projects moving again.
The prospects for PPP took a backward step with the disbanding of the Central PPP Unit in 2019, but recent announcements from the government suggest that PPP projects are firmly back on the agenda.
Oman Projects H2 2021 is the update to this year’s H1 report.
Focused on data, it is aimed at helping companies create strategies for targeting and growing the market. It uses almost exclusively data from MEED Projects (www.meedprojects.com), the region’s leading online projects tracking service. With 15,000 active projects tracked and more than 35,000 in total in the database, MEED Projects makes it possible to quantify current, historical and future trends in the projects market in the region.
I am certain that this report can help you achieve success in Oman.