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Oman marches forward to fur-ther prosperity, bright future

Under the astute leadership of H.M. Sultan Qaboos bin Said of Oman

Oman marches forward to fur-
ther prosperity, bright future

▲H.M. Sultan Qaboos bin Said of the Sultanate of Oman

The following article by H.E. Mohamed Salim Alharthy of the Sultanate of Oman in Seoul was provided to The Korea Post for publication on the occasion of the 43rd National Day of Oman on Nov. 18, 2013.--Ed.

Firstly, I’d like to thank the Korea Post for giving me the opportunity to publish this article about Oman and the friendly relation and cooperation between Oman and Korea. I also like to express the embassy? warm greeting and appreciation to our friends in Korea for their marvelous support and assistant in promoting the relation between our two friendly people and countries.

On November 18, 2013, the Omani people celebrate the 43rd National Day while building their country with firm will and strong determination, working sincerely to achieve the goals of the development march which advances in well-studied steps towards maintaining the country’s prosperous present and preparing for a bright, dignified future under the astute leadership of His Majesty Sultan Qaboos bin Said who directed Oman’s march with prudence and efficiency.

Foreign Policy
The basic principles of the Sultanate’s foreign policy stem from the strategic vision of His Majesty Sultan Qaboos about peaceful co-existence between all peoples, neighborliness, non-interference in the internal affairs of others and mutual respect for national sovereignty.

The Omani diplomacy has accorded attention to friendship with the world through good, balanced ties with each country that takes positive steps on the way to cooperation and commits itself to international charters and UN principles for achieving progress and consolidating the foundations of international stability.

On grounds of this clear and deep vision, the Sultanate established its relations with sisterly and friendly states in its capacity as a peace-loving nation that is always bent upon resolving disputes through positive dialogue and by peaceful means. The Sultanate spares no effort in fostering peace, security and stability in its surroundings because it has gained friendship, credibility and esteem, both as a leadership and as a state. Oman’s beginning efforts and endeavors succeeded many times in rapprochement of views and overcoming disputes between sisterly and friendly states in the region and beyond. This earned Oman more respect at all levels.

Tolerance an authentic trait of the Omani identity
The Sultanate of Oman makes tangible efforts in deepening the concept of tolerance. These efforts come, not only in the context of the successful Omani diplomacy, but also a deep, wide-scale intellectual discourse to bridge the gaps between nations, cultures and religions and to meet on one common humanitarian ground.

The US State Department’s annual report on religious freedoms of 2012 hailed the efforts of the Sultanate in combating religious extremism and reinforcing religious freedoms.

Following this initiative, a series of exhibitions titled “Religious Tolerance in Oman” was launched in April 2011. The programme was expanded further and renamed as “Message of Islam”. The expositions focus on a three-axis theme: Religious Tolerance, Joint Understanding and Peaceful Co-existence.

The exhibition has been expanded further to be held in 16 countries in different continents, namely the United States, Brazil, Australia, Russia, Canada, Portugal, Pakistan, India, Turkey, South Korea, New Zealand, Tanzania, Indonesia and Malaysia. The exhibition works will be translated into 19 languages.

Oman is State of Institutions
The efforts of national development aim to build a modern state and a state of establishments as a fundamental axis of the modern state's achievements. His Majesty the Sultan laid the foundations of the modern state to cope with the age of science and knowledge and maintain its authenticity and originality.

The basic Law of the State is representing the legal frame for the society and the basic foundation of the work, role and governor of State’s institutions.

The establishment of the Council of Oman (the State council and the Majilis A’Shura “Consultative Council”) was a remarkable sign for developing the Omani consultative system. The Council of Oman consists of the State council, which H.M. appoints its members among the best Omani experiences and the A’Shura Council, which the Omani people elect their representatives from all the (Wilayat) provinces. The Council received a range of legislative and regulatory powers.

The Modern Omani Judiciary enjoyed a complete independence. This is reflecting the interest of the H.M. to achieve the interests of the country and the citizen as well. The amendments of the Basic Law of the State responded to the aspirations of the Omani citizen by participating in the national development efforts and strengthen the parliament’s legislatives that contributed to achievements of the development and the prosperity.

In addition, His Majesty Sultan Qaboos, since the outset of the renaissance, has always been keen on holding direct meetings with citizens in their areas of residence in the governorates.

The Royal meet-the-people tours, are not only a prominent landmark in the leader’s contact with his people, but also a method of following up development projects.

These tours have become a means of reinforcing citizens’ political participation in decision-making, to bring the economic and social development projects closer to the daily needs of citizens, while at the same time highlighting priorities at a national level.

Industrial and economic zones:
The industry sector constitutes one of the main components of the national economy’s diversification aimed at diminishing dependence on oil. This sector’s importance stems from its ability to cover a great volume of society’s need for commodity items, particularly construction materials, in addition to its ability to provide employment opportunities.

The Sultanate seeks to increase the contribution of the converting industries sector to the Gross Domestic Product (GDP) by 15% by 2020

Specialized economic and industrial zones and free zones contribute to enriching business activity, attracting foreign investments and opening up export markets before products of converting industries. These are also considered as efficient means of achieving economic goals of transfer of technical expertise and the diversification of sources of income, besides increasing employment opportunities.

Oman adopts a policy of distribution of industrial estates and free zones into the governorates. The Public Establishment for Industrial Estates undertakes the management and operation of 7 industrial estates, namely in Al Rusayl, Sohar, Raysut, Nizwa, Sur, Al Buraimi and Samayil,in addition to Knowledge Oasis Muscat (which focuses on information technology) and Al Mazyouna Free Zone, which attract projects dealing with commercial and industrial exchange between the Sultanate and Yemen. Work is also under way to establish two new industrial zones

The setting up of the Special Economic Zone at Duqm on October 26, 2011 is considered a new addition to the national economy. The projects that the Special Economic Zone houses include the Port of Duqm, Al Duqm Dry Dock and a number of tourist and logistic areas. The Sultanate plans to carry out a number of major industrial projects at this zone to attract investments worth $15 billion over the next 10 years.
Free zones provide a packa

ge of investment incentives and privileges like exemptions from taxes, streaming of licensing and clearance procedures, import of all goods permissible in the country, exemption from the “lowest limit of investment” condition, free use of currencies, exemption of profits from the income tax and other incentives.

Omani Ports and Railway:
The network of main Omani ports includes Port Sultan Qaboos, established in 1974 as an import and export terminal that witnessed continuous development over the years of the Sultanate’s modern renaissance. In July 2011, the government decided to transform Port Sultan Qaboos into a full-fledged tourism port. The decision provides for the transfer of all import and export activities to Sohar Industrial Port.

The Port of Salalah is accorded great importance due to its vicinity to international maritime routes.

As for Sohar Port, which overlooks the Sea of Oman, its importance is expected to pick up after the start of implementation of the government’s decision to transfer all commercial activities of Port Sultan Qaboos. Sohar Industrial Port will become Oman’s main commercial hub.

Al Duqm Port will revolutionize the Sultanate’s maritime experience. Situated in the Governorate of Al Wusta, the Port of Duqm is considered one of the Sultanate’s most modern ports. The first phase of goods handling operations at the Port of Duqm began in March 2013.

The Port of Duqm is also distinguished for its strategic location in the vicinity of international maritime trade routes, which offers great chances for attraction of regional and international business, besides activating transport and tourism activity within other Omani ports because this port is located halfway between Qaboos Port in Muscat and the Port of Salalah in Dhofar.

A key facility in Duqm is a project to set up a comprehensive city to serve as a centre for attraction of maritime transport activity, besides serving the planned industrial city which will include a refinery, petrochemical industries and workshops for the repair of ships and tug boats. The facilities also include fisheries-based industries, logistic complexes and big stores. The area is expected to be the Sultanate’s main industrial centre attracting both domestic and foreign investments and, thereby, expanding the country’s economic production platform. The volume of investments at the Port of Duqm is expected to touch RO 1.7 billion after the completion of the rest of infrastructure stages.

The Sultanate’s main ports network also includes the Port of Khasab, Other ports in the Sultanate include Shinas

The railway project is considered a complementing part of the land transport network in the Sultanate and a new facility which will enhance the national economy and support the sustainable development process. The railway will also reinforce transport networks between the Sultanate and the United Arab Emirates. It will enable the ports of Sohar, Duqm and Salalah to become the main gateways of import and export for GCC states, thereby keeping the Sultanate on the helm of the maritime transport industry.

The railway project extends for 1687 kilometres. The project of detailed designs and construction is expected to be floated for specialized international companies by the first half of 2014.

Other projects are the medical city and Education city beside other new airport and expansion of existing airports. In addition, projects in energy, petrochemical sector and construction. In that we invite Korean companies to participate in these projects.

Investment opportunities:
Oman has worked to attract the investment over the past years by finding a suitable climate to attract foreign investments and stimulate domestic businessmen. It improves the economic environment and creates encouraging incentives

Oman enjoys many investment features, which has enabled it to attract domestic and foreign investment, including security, political stability, and the application of a free economic system. It allows foreigners to own projects by up to 100% without any restrictions on the transfer of funds to the outside, and there is no tax on the income of individuals. Also, it unifies the tax treatment to all companies, both Omani and foreign institutions to be 12% annually.

There are many investment opportunities and major ongoing projects and many to come such as the railroad project, the medical city, the education city, ports, airports, tourism projects, petrochemical projects, and many other construction projects. In that, we invite the Korean companies to take the opportunity to participate on these projects. The embassy is keen in providing support and cooperation to the Korean companies.

Culture and Tourism
Oman enjoys an unspoiled culture and traditional lifestyle in almost every aspect of life which is derived from Islamic religion. The Omanis are committed society to kindness, friendship, hospitality and the value of the family as the solid foundation for a lifestyle. Arabic is the official language; English is considered a second language and widely used in business sector. Oman has rich cultural values, Art, handicraft and Folkloric performances. There are number of UNESCO-classified World Heritage in Oman. The Royal Orchestra Of Oman is considered one of the best worldwide and the recently Royal opera house has been opened as an example of appreciation of Art.

Oman is a beautiful country with many appealing sites and destinations. The popularity of Oman is mainly due to its Geological structure, beautiful landscapes, mountains, deserts and Wadis, with green oases of palm trees, heritage, etc. Oman also has some exotic beaches with crystal clear and sparkling water and luxurious resorts and hotels, restaurants, etc. Some of the interesting attractions of Oman places include Muscat, Nizwa, Sohar, Salalah, Sur, etc. Oman is rich in nature, culture, heritage, as well as interesting activities such as scuba diving, boating, climbing, trekking, camping, playing golf, shopping, watching whales, dolphins, turtles, and birds. In addition, tourists can enjoy camel and horse racing and the souks and villages of Oman, Beduion tents in desert and camel riding,

▲Ambassador Mohamed Salim Alharthy of the Sultanate of Oman in Seoul

Oman-Korea relations:
Oman-Korea relations go back to more than thousand years, when Omani merchants met their Korean counterparts on their way to China. In modern times, they established diplomatic relations in 1974. Since then, Oman-Korea relations witnessed a remarkable development in various fields.
Korea is regarded as a major trading partner of Oman, and in the presence both countries engage in numerous economical exchange and cooperation. Oman provides large quantities of Oil and LNG to Korea: on the other hand, Korea exports many industrial products, including automobiles, vessels, hi-tech electronics and electrics to Oman.

Moreover, many Korean companies such as GS, Dawoo, Hyundai, Doosan, Hanjin and others are contributing to the development of Omani infrastructure and other major projects.

The Oman-Korea Joint Committee is playing a very pivotal role in promoting and developing the cooperation between the two countries. During the third round of the meetings which was held in Seoul Nov.12 - during which many topics of mutual interests where discussed such as trade, investment, information security, health, renewable energy, electricity and water, railways, vocational education, maritime transport etc..

To reflect the strong ties, an exchange visit from both sides has taken place. Lately, minister of Oil and Gas and Minister of Health Of Oman have visited Korea. Minister of Health have discussed mutual cooperation in health care and MOU in health care services was signed between Oman and Korea.

Also Oman has participated in many international events and conferences which have taken place in Korea such as the world energy congress, the Seoul Cyberspace conference, the e-government conference and others.

To promote cultural exchange, the Embassy of the Sultanate of Oman in the Rep. of Korea participated in various events such as Hi-Seoul, the Arab Cultural Festival. In addition, it organized some cultural events including the open house program which invites Korean guests to visit the embassy and take a look at the culture, heritage and history of Oman. Likewise, the Korean embassy in Oman is playing major role in promoting the Korean culture. These cultural exchange programs promote understanding among people which in turn contribute in enhancing relation and cooperation between Oman and Korea.

In conclusion, I would like to invite the Korean people to visit Oman, explore the culture, tourism land marks, adventure and also invite the Korean companies to participate in the investment opportunities of various projects. I’m confident that our relations and cooperation in the coming days will witness further enhancement and development. Ultimately, my heartfelt wishes to Korean people and government to further success and progress and for the Oman-Korea relation further development and prosperity. k

이경식 기자  edt@koreapost.com

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