OPAZ organizes its annual media briefing

The volume of investments stood at about 19 billion OMR by the end of 2023

The number of areas supervised by OPAZ stood at 14 existing areas and 8 under development in various governorates

An integrated infrastructure within the allocated land areas exceeding 2200 square kilometers capable of accommodating the requirements of various economic sectors.

The average Omanization rate hits 34%, of which more than 75,000 direct employment opportunities at various administrative and technical levels.

Muscat: The Public Authority for Special Economic Zones and Free Zones (OPAZ) recently held its annual media briefing, which was attended by His Excellency Dr. Ali bin Masoud Al-Sunaidi, OPZA Chairman, His Excellency Eng. Ahmed bin Hassan Al-Theeb, OPAZ Vice Chairman, CEOs of the Special, Free, Industrial and Economic Zones supervised by OPAZ. The briefing was attended as well by several high-ranking officials, CEOs of various economic zones, and representatives from the media. The purpose of the briefing was to highlight the achievements of OPAZ and the regions under its supervision in 2023, as well as to outline the targets and plans for 2024.

One of the key topics discussed during the briefing was the growth of investments in several vital sectors, including green, metal, pharmaceutical, and petrochemical industries. OPAZ emphasized its commitment to attracting environmentally friendly industries and achieving zero neutrality by 2050, in line with Oman Vision 2040. These efforts aim to enhance investment opportunities and create a favorable investment environment.

OPAZ oversees a total of 22 areas, which include 14 special economic zones such as the Special Economic Zone at Duqm and Khazaen Economic City, three free zones including the Sohar Free Zone, Salalah Free Zone, and Mazyona Free Zone, and nine industrial zones operated by the Public Establishment for Industrial Estates (Madayn). Additionally, there are eight other zones currently under development, two of which are 2 economic zones and the rest are free zones. Furthermore, there are five industrial zones spread across various governorates of Oman.

The average Omanization rate hits 34%, of which more than 75,000 direct employment opportunities at various administrative and technical levels.

Investment size

OPAZ announced during its annual media briefing that the cumulative committed investment in all regions until the end of December 2023 amounted to approximately OMR 19 billion. The Special Economic Zone at Duqm accounted for a total cumulative investment volume of around OMR 6 billion by December 2023. Additionally, the free zones recorded a cumulative investment volume of about OMR 5.3 billion, while the industrial zones reached a cumulative investment volume of OMR 7.3 billion. Khazaen Economic City witnessed an investment volume of OMR 429 million.

Accomplishments in 2023

Throughout the year, the total volume of committed investment increased by OMR 3.5 billion in all areas overseen by OPAZ. In the Special Economic Zone at Duqm alone, the amount of committed investment added in 2023 reached approximately OMR 2.3 billion. This substantial growth can be attributed to the successful completion of several major projects in the region. Moreover, the free zones experienced an increase of over OMR 800 million in committed investment during 2023, while the industrial zones saw an addition of more than OMR 203 million. Khazaen Economic City also witnessed a noteworthy increase in committed investment, amounting to about OMR 126 million for the year.

In terms of services, OPAZ facilitated the establishment of 2,187 new commercial registers in the areas under its supervision. Furthermore, it issued 2,183 public service licenses, 1,921 activity licenses, and 258 building permits. Additionally, OPAZ granted 3,351 licenses to work and investors, along with 465 environmental permits and licenses. These one-stop services provided by OPAZ demonstrate its commitment to supporting businesses and streamlining the regulatory processes.

92% satisfaction rate of beneficiaries of OPAZ services

During the annual media briefing, OPAZ unveiled the impressive results of its customer satisfaction indicators, showcasing a satisfaction rate of 92% by the end of December 2023, a noticeable increase from 86% in June 2023. These results encompassed the evaluation of various services provided by OPAZ in the supervised areas. Notably, the assessment included the Omap platform, a comprehensive digital mapping system that offers integrated geographical maps for special economic zones, free zones, and industrial cities. This platform empowers users to access services and detailed information through digital maps and tools, facilitating efficient navigation and utilization of the areas.

The evaluation results also encompassed the central compliance system “Eltizam,” the investor relations management system, the unified electronic cadastral drawing service, environmental permits, trademark registration, the central inspection system, electronic registration of small and medium enterprises, and other services. The high satisfaction rate reflects the effectiveness and quality of these services, demonstrating OPAZ’s commitment to briefing the needs and expectations of its customers.

Institutional Transformation Program

In pursuit of continuous improvement, OPAZ initiated the implementation of the Institutional Transformation Program, which underwent several stages, beginning with a comprehensive study and analysis of the current situation within OPAZ and the regions it oversees. This process resulted in a series of recommendations, projects, and initiatives aimed at supporting transformation and developing a strategy for OPAZ. The strategy encompasses six main pillars and 28 sub-objectives derived from the tasks and competencies of OPAZ.

Prominent objectives within this strategy include assessing the current situation, enhancing institutional performance and work mechanisms, fostering staff training and knowledge transfer, formulating and implementing marketing and promotion strategies, attracting local and foreign investments, identifying infrastructure requirements, services, and facilities, and reviewing regulations and policies to better serve investors. These efforts are dedicated to creating an attractive investment environment across all regions in the Sultanate of Oman.

As part of its commitment to environmental sustainability and digital transformation, OPAZ ceased the use of paper in both internal and external correspondence starting from July 1, 2023, except specific interactions with certain official bodies. This transition reflects OPAZ’s dedication to embracing innovative practices and reducing its ecological footprint while maintaining effective communication channels.

New areas overseen by OPAZ are under development

OPAZ is developing a number of new zones such as the Economic Zone at Al Dhahirah EZAD, which covers an area of 388 square kilometers, as well as the Economic Zone at Al Rawda with an area of 56 square kilometers, and the Muscat International Airport Free Zone with an area of 1.7 square kilometers, which will be operated by Asyad Group.  Work is also underway to develop a number of industrial zones supervised by The Public Establishment for Industrial Estates “Madayn”, such as Mahas Industrial City, Ibri Industrial City, Seih Al-Sarya Industrial City, Al-Mudhaibi Industrial City, and Thumrait Industrial City.

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