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No 144 July 2012

EDITOR’SDESK

EDITORIAL Editor-in-chief HH Sayyid Tarik Bin Shabib Group Editor Mayank Singh

Scope for improvement

Deputy Editor Visvas Paul D Karra DESIGN Senior Art Director Sandesh S. Rangnekar Senior Designer M. Balagopalan Senior Photographer Rajesh Burman Photographer Basim Al Maharbi Cover concept Chanjeet Singh Production Manager Govindaraj Ramesh MARKETING Business Head Jacob George Advertising Manager Arif Abdul Bari CORPORATE Chief Executive Sandeep Sehgal Executive Vice President Alpana Roy Senior Business Support Executive Radha Kumar Distribution United Media Services LLC OER PRESENTATION

T

he CEO of a manufacturing company in Sohar pulled me aside at a recent event. He went on to share the problems that his company and a number of other firms in the industrial area were facing. While none of these issues are new or unheard of, it’s their scale and direction that is worrying. Small and medium enterprises have their own set of concerns.

Oman has a number of things going for it – a benign business environment, stability, friendly tax regime, vantage location, good infrastructure. On the flip side, there are bureaucratic hurdles to setting up new businesses; and finding skilled Omanis remains a big challenge. Though initiatives like ‘a single window’ have been taken by the Ministry of Commerce and Industry, probably more needs to be done to improve the ease of doing business. HR issues will take a while to be sorted out but as most companies are committed to developing the national workforce, it augurs well for the future. A new trend that companies are experiencing is ‘organised protest.’ While no one disputes the right of employees to protest, senior executives want employees to have a better understanding of their demands and its implications. OER’s cover story takes an in-depth look at the challenges facing business and what can be done to overcome them. OER felicitated environment crusaders at its annual Oman Green Awards function held on World Environment Day on June 5, 2012. An event report highlights the initiatives of the winners and how these are contributing towards a better future.

Published by United Press & Publishing LLC PO Box 3305, Ruwi, Postal Code - 112 Muscat, Sultanate of Oman Tel: (968) 24700896, Fax: (968) 24707939 Email: publish@umsoman.com Website: www.umsoman.com All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced without the written permission of the publisher. The publisher does not accept responsibility for any loss occasioned to any person or organisation acting or refraining as a result of material in this publication. OER accepts no responsibility for advertising content. Copyright © 2012 United Press & Publishing LLC Printed by Oman Printers Correspondence should be sent to: Oman Economic Review United Media Services PO Box 3305, Ruwi 112, Sultanate of Oman Fax: (968)24707939 Email: editor@oeronline.com Website: www.oeronline.com

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July 2012

To read, click on link at: www.oeronline.com


MAIL

EMPOWERING YOUTH

Y

our cover story “Rising Stars: Young executive to watch out for” (OER, June) brought an important area of national interest into sharp focus by highlighting the success of ten toppers in the NTI Bizpro Awards 2012. In a country which is suffering from the shortage of talented youngsters, these achievers who scaled new heights through hard work, determination and commitment to work show the way for others. NTI has done a commendable job by giving a helping hand to the young generation, uplift their morale to enable them carry on the process of nation building. A nation will add a feather to its cap and the process of its development will continue only if its ambitious, agile and strong youths are guided on the right direction. But it is usually seen that the youth are unable to yield desired results for want of proper guidance. Building national talent is the bedrock of any discussion about the future of nation as the process of nation building primarily hinges on effective human resource development policies. Ever since the Renaissance the focus on building national talent has been the raison d’être of Oman’s strategies for sustainable development, as exemplified by Oman’s educational axiom ‘We will teach our students even under the trees’. For the last one year the topic continued to figure prominently in almost all national forums because of its significance in all discussions on social and economic justice. The task of building national talent, equipping youngsters and enabling them to contribute to the nation building is a collective responsibility to be shouldered both by the private and public sectors. However, the private sector can play a bigger role by its active participation in training and professionally equip our university graduates to meet new requirements in the job market. Naila Al Balushi, Madinat Sultan Qaboos

QUALITY MATTERS Almost all young achievers you interviewed reiterated the importance of investing more on education and talent building. There is no denying the fact that the foundation of our education system is solid and our labour law is strong enough to create relevant job opportunities for Omanis. But now, we have to build on this good foundation in secondary education to develop a high-quality and professionally sound higher education system to meet the new requirements of various industries in our fast developing country. If we exclude the youth, the rest of the population of the country will comprise old people and children. They cannot be called the real manpower of the nation. So we may say that if the youth of the country are not enthused to devote their energies to the task of national reconstruction, the whole manpower of the nation is being wasted. The task of nation building is enormous and can be divided into many phases and compartments. It has some work for everybody. All the young people may

4

July 2012

be involved in this work. They may be assigned jobs according to their capacity and capability. First of all they should be made to understand a specific project and its importance to the society and also the part they are expected to play to make it a success. They are sure to work hard for its fulfilment. They have the resources, guts and imagination to explain it to the people in detail and make it a success; they will feel more than satisfied by the realisation that they have been assigned a role in the nation-building efforts. This realisation will encourage them to put their best into it. But, on the other hand, we need to be careful not to confuse empowering the youth with taking populist measures that will breed a dangerously complacent attitude among the youth, which will make them take everything in life for granted. Such measures will serve only to make them less competitive, dampening their sprit to work hard and scale new heights in life and profession. Our local youth

must demonstrate their competency and professional skills so that they can excel themselves and prove their mettle in the long run. We should also resist any pressure to tolerate lack of professionalism and cronyism which will make our youth less competent. Paul De Souza, Wadi Kabir

INFORMATIVE Your spotlight on Air Conditioners (OER, May) was timely as it came when the whole nation was gearing up for the sizzling temperature in the summer. I found your articles in this section very informative as they gave details of various AC brands available in the local market including the latest entrants. It will help the consumers understand the latest products and their attractive features. The tips and guidelines for selecting, using and maintaining air conditioners were also very helpful. Shaima Karim, Darsait Write to us with your comments/ feedback at: editor@oeronline.com


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INSIDE

30 TELECOM

OMANTEL LAUNCHES 4G LTE NETWORK The Sultan Qaboos University campus was among the first to enjoy 4G LTE services launched by Omantel

28 PERISCOPE

DOWNSIDE RISK FOR GLOBAL MARKETS GCC stock, bond and property markets cannot escape collateral damage from the European crisis and a Wall Street stock market crash

31 COVER STORY Doing business in Oman How real are the obstacles?

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July 2012

42 CASE STUDY

CHANGE THE GAME An innovative marketing approach, state-of-the-art products and right pricing have enabled Samsung to emerge as a market leader across segments

44 OMAN GREEN AWARDS

CREATING A GREEN UMBRELLA The third edition of Oman Green Awards honoured outstanding environmental vision, endeavours and achievements of corporates and individuals


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INSIDE

56 AUTO TALK

A FUTURE CLASSIC The manufacturers have pulled all the stops with the 2012 Chrysler 200 Sedan. Built for speed as well as comfort, it has managed to build the bridge across functionality and style

Editorial

10

Business Briefs

12

Executive Movements

20

In the News

22

Event

26

Economy

40

Autonews

58

Billboard

60

Market Watch

64

Gizmos

65

Browsing Corner

67

July 2012

68 BEYOND BOARDROOMS

BEYOND BLACK AND WHITE

AGAINST THE GRAIN

Stephen R Covey’s The 3rd Alternative, Solving Life’s Most Difficult Problems unveils a radical, creative new way of conflict resolution in organisations and societies – a third alternative that ‘moves beyond your way or my way to a higher and better way’

Rami Al Lawati and Huda Al Lawati stepped out of their comfort zone to start ProShots which in a short span of three years has become one of the leading digital media and creative production companies in Oman

GOLF UPDATE

A DOUBLE WHAMMY Tiger Woods’ miserably inconsistent performance in the final round of 2012 US Open was followed by his being slipped, for the first time since 2001, from top spot on the Forbes’ list of the 100 highest paid athletes

2

Economy Watch

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67 BROWSING CORNER

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ECONOMYWATCH

India's FDI prospects Despite the financial downturn aďŹ&#x201E;icting Europe, a strong increase in the number of foreign direct investment (FDI) projects in India is a clear indication that global investors view the country as an attractive investment destination.

4th

3rd

global destination in terms of FDI projects

global destination in terms of FDI value

73%

51%

of business leaders surveyed are keen to invest in India in the near future

of FDI projects come from US, Germany, UK and France

Top five recipient countries by number of projects Number of projects 2010

2011

Change 2011 vs 2010

United States

1,522

1,707

12%

57,275

2

China

1,344

1,409

5%

100,688

3

United Kingdom

941

1,014

8%

36,039

4

India

774

932

20%

58,261

5

Brazil

366

507

39%

63,018

Rank

Top five countries

1

FDI by value (US$ million) in India

Value (US$ million) 2011

Number of FDI projects in India

80,618

1024 932 57,171

54,152

2007

2008

2009

58,261 51,956

2010

2011

738

2007

2008

762

774

2009

2010

2011

Source: E&Y 2012 Attractiveness Survey - India

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July 2012


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BUSINESS BRIEFS

RENAISSANCE EGM APPROVES RO100MN BOND ISSUE Renaissance Services shareholders have approved the raising of RO100mn through a bond issue at the company’s Extraordinary General Meeting recently held at the meeting hall of the Capital Market Authority (CMA). The meeting was attended by the CMA delegate, in addition to the representative of the legal advisors and representatives of the statutory auditors of the company. The shareholders approved the issue of up to one billion bonds at an issue price of RO0.100 each. The bonds shall be issued through either rights issue or public issue during a period of five years from the EGM date, which may be issued in more than one issue. The prospectus of each issue will specify the terms and conditions of the issue in terms of whether the bonds are convertible to shares or unconvertible, whether the bonds are secured or unsecured and whether the bondholders are eligible to claim interests or not.

BANKMUSCAT WINS HAWKAMAH AWARD

QUICKLOOK

BankMuscat won the top 2012 Hawkamah bank corporate governance award. The prestigious award showcases banks that have gone the extra mile in improving their corporate governance practices, beyond the legal and regulatory requirements imposed by their respective jurisdictions. Ahmed Al Barami, AGM – chairman’s office, received the award at the ceremony in Dubai attended by senior bankers from the region. The award jury commended BankMuscat for introducing a unique approach to the areas of corporate governance and corporate social responsibility. The jury evaluated the various award criteria as well as interviewed a panel from the bank to decide the winner. Hawkamah is a regional initiative aiming at recognising, supporting and encouraging superior governance practices in the banking sector in the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) region.

Oman Air to launch Tehran service Oman Air will launch a new daily service between Muscat and Tehran from September 1, 2012. Flights will depart Muscat for Tehran at 2am (3 days per week) and 9:30am(4 days per week) and return from Tehran at 6:10am (3 days per week) and 12:40pm (4 days per week) all times local, offering good connections to onward destinations within Oman Air’s network. The new route will be operated using Oman Air’s new Embraer 175 regional jets.

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July 2012

Financial reporting training Public Establishment for Industrial Estates (PEIE), represented by Human Resources Development Centre, organised a four-day training programme on practical and scientific fundamentals in the preparation and presentation of financial reports. The event was held in Knowledge Oasis Muscat (KOM) as part of PEIE 2012 strategic plan to train, rehabilitate and advance its human resources. The programme was designed for financial management personnel.

ASSIGNIA SETS FOOT IN OMAN Assignia Infraestructuras, through its subsidiary Hispanica Al Shanfari, has been awarded two new contracts in Oman. The contracts consist of the construction of the headquarters and distribution center for one of the largest pharmaceutical companies in the Sultanate, Taiba Pharma and the construction of a commercial and residential building for the company Oman70 Holding, belonging to the pension fund of Royal Omani Police. The building which will house facilities for the pharmaceutical company will have a privileged location within the new industrial area of Rusayl in the governorate of Muscat and will comprise about 3,114 m2 of offices arranged over four floors and an equipped distribution and storage center of 2,200 m2 . The commercial and residential building will be located in Ghala in Muscat and will comprise 54 homes on nine floors with commercial areas on the ground floor.

Travel Point partners BankMuscat Travel Point has partnered with BankMuscat to offer special travel deals on the official ‘BankMuscat Souq’ website, recently launched by the cards and e-Payments department of the bank. The travel section of this site, will offer competitive rates on flight tickets, holiday packages, hotels and accommodation, car rentals, airport transfers and sightseeing in several countries across the globe.

Gartner ranks E&Y number one in MENA Gartner, Inc has ranked Ernst & Young as the Middle East & North Africa revenue and market share leader in consulting, based on revenues for the year 2011. Gartner, Inc is the world’s leading information technology research and advisory company. “We are pleased to receive recognition of our leadership position from Gartner,” said Abdulaziz Al Sowailim, chairman and CEO, Ernst & Young MENA.


BUSINESS BRIEFS

BANK NIZWA HOLDS TRAINING FOR EMPLOYEES

The first Islamic bank in the Sultanate, Bank Nizwa organised a training session for its first batch of employees at Grand Hyatt recently. As a pioneer of Shari’a-compliant banking in the Sultanate, the training was aimed at helping the employees to learn more about the principles, concepts and products of Islamic finance. An experienced team drawn from scholars in Islamic finance, Islamic banking practitioners and senior management of the bank trained the employees on the technical and soft skills essential to achieve high standards of proficiency. The trainers also shared their experience of working in Islamic banks regionally and across the globe as case-studies to help the new appointees at Bank Nizwa better understand the working of an Islamic Bank. “We are getting closer to launching the operations of the bank and the training was focused at creating a strong contingent of the first Islamic bankers of the country,”said Dr Jamil El Jaroudi, CEO, Bank Nizwa.

RECORD REVENUE FOR OMAN AIR IN H1 The net passenger revenue of Oman’s flagship carrier, Oman Air, registered a growth of 28 per cent in the first six months of 2012, compared to a full-year growth of 28 per cent in 2011. Oman Air carried 1,814,383 passengers between January and May 2012, compared to 1,529,272 last year. “Oman Air has generated greater revenues, carried more passengers and transported more cargo between January and May 2012 than at any equivalent time in the airline’s history,” said Wayne Pearce, CEO of Oman Air recently at his first interaction with the media. Cargo revenue, too, increased by 47 per cent in the first six months, compared to a full-year increase of 28 per cent in 2011. Similarly, cargo tonnage increased by 33 per cent, compared to a full-year increase of 13 per cent in 2011. “We fly to six destinations in Europe, two in Africa, three in Levant, 11 in GCC, three in Pakistan, 10 in India, one in Bangladesh, one in Nepal, one in Sri Lanka, one in Maldives, and one in South East Asia”, he added.

AMIANTIT INTRODUCES PRECAST CONCRETE PRODUCTS

QUICKLOOK

Amiantit Oman Concrete Products, a fully integrated engineered precast concrete product manufacturing facility, has added value with its engineered precast concrete box culverts and pipes recently in one of the well-known projects for the repair and maintenance of the roads damaged by cyclone in Sur. “These precast concrete products adhere to the highest international quality standard and are machine-made using

Sharakah workshop Sharakah held a workshop on ‘Entrepreneurship in a Changing Business Environment’ for the students at Gulf College. The workshop aimed at educating participants on how to develop and manage cash flow forecast for small to medium size businesses offered a better understanding on how to manage a business in an ever changing business environment.

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July 2012

Standard Cahrterd wins award Standard Chartered won the ‘Best Private Equity House in the Middle East for 2011’ award by emeafinance magazine. The awards will be presented at a charity dinner at Grand Connaught Rooms in London. In 2011, Standard Chartered Private Equity (SCPE) successfully closed two private equity deals in the Middle East region.

latest technologies,” said GL Banerjee, CEO Amiantit Oman Concrete Products. “These products offer immense value to contractors and clients by reducing the project execution timelines and costs”. Amiantit Oman’s plant is fully automated manufacturing facility of pre-cast products such as reinforced concrete pipes, pre-cast concrete manholes, reinforced concrete composite jacking pipes, box culverts, etc.

Connexions showroom opens at MCC The recently opened Connexions showroom at Muscat City Centre is the new centre of attraction with huge customer turnout. The sprawling new commercial space offers a wide variety of electronic products such as televisions, music systems, DVD/ Blu-Ray players, stereo systems from world-renowned brands such as Bose, JVC, AEG, Nakamachi and Sonos.

Muscat among lowest-risk cities Muscat is among the lowest risk cities in the region, with a rating that puts it ahead of international business hubs such as Barcelona, Milan, Lisbon, Kuala Lumpur and Beijing, according to the findings from the 2012 People Risk Index, created by Aon Hewitt, the global human resources business of Aon plc (NYSE: AON).


INDIAN INDUSTRY DELEGATION VISITS OMAN A 10-member Indian Industrial delegation coordinated by the Confederation of Indian Industries (CII) and led by KKM Kutty, former chairman, CII (SR) and CEO & managing director, South West Group of Companies, visited Oman recently. The delegation held a business seminar and business-to-business (B2B) meet with Omani businessmen at Oman Chamber of Commerce and Industry (OCCI). The delegation comprised representatives of leading Indian Industries such as agri-equipment/tractors; financial and consultancy; automobile, industrial, marine and oil field applications; infrastructure; infrastructure development ; engineering and projects; chemicals and fertilisers; electrical control system – power management system, generator synchronisation, automation and battery charges for industries like petro chemical, oil and gas, substations, desalination plants; oil and gas, construction and allied activities and IT and enables services (ITES).

real watches for real people

MINISTRY APPROVES MERGER OF HSBC, OIB The Ministry of Commerce and Industry has formally approved the merger of Oman International Bank and the Oman operations of HSBC Bank Middle East Limited (HSBC Oman). The merger is now complete and the combined entity, in which HSBC owns 51 per cent, is named HSBC Bank Oman. The new entity has one of the largest branch networks in the country, serving the needs of retail, corporate and institutional customers. Simon Cooper, deputy chairman and chief executive officer of HSBC Middle East & North Africa, has been appointed as chairman of HSBC Bank Oman’s seven-member board of directors. Ewan Stirling has been appointed CEO of the combined entity. The successful completion of the deal means that OIB and HSBC branches will be re-branded HSBC Bank Oman and will feature the HSBC red hexagon logo.

CLUTTONS ANNOUNCES LAUNCH OF BAHWAN PLAZA Cluttons announced the launch of Saud Bahwan’s ‘Bahwan Plaza’ which consists of premium residential apartments in the heart of Muscat. Bahwan Plaza offers a car-free environment, but has a dedicated parking facility conveniently located nearby. The elegant and spacious apartment units offer the best amenities in the form of on-site gardens, a jogging track, gymnasium, spa, a basketball and badminton court, along with upmarket coffee shops, restaurants, and mini marts. Furthermore, the residential spaces also include a central satellite dish, 24-hour security and audio door phone entry. Each apartment comes with a fully-equipped kitchen and a dry yard area. “We are very pleased to have been chosen to represent Bahwan Plaza, and will strive to offer our usual high standard of service while managing this premium development,” said Philip Paul, head of Cluttons Oman.

Oris Artix Complication www.oris.ch


BUSINESS BRIEFS

KHIMJI OPENS LUFTHANSA CITY CENTRE Khimji’s House of Travel has recently been appointed as a franchisee office of Lufthansa City Centre International. The Khimji’s House of Travel Lufthansa City Centre Office was ianugrated by HE Angelika StorzChakarji, German Ambassador to the Sultanate, at Ruwi Street. With a network of more than 610 offices in over 80 countries, Lufthansa City Centre International travel agency franchise co-operation is one of the largest of its kind in the world. Set up in 1991, Lufthansa City Centre has been experiencing a constant growth and today consolidates an overall turnover of around € 5.03bn. Khimji’s House of Travel, together with Lufthansa City Centre, will provide a recognised and preferred network, offering a uniform, top-quality services around the globe. “We are proud to partner with one of the leading global travel networks in the world,” said MC Jose, CEO – projects and logistics of the Khimji Ramdas Group.

MURIYA SOFT-OPENS JUWEIRA BOUTIQUE HOTEL With Dhofar’s khareef weather weaving its subtropical magic upon Salalah, a new chic boutique property is set to open its doors on the eve of this delightful summer holiday season in the south of Oman. Juweira Boutique Hotel, a premium five star property, is the first of five leading international hotel brands that will anchor the luxurious Salalah Beach lifestyle destination overlooking the Arabian Sea. Everything about Juweira – from its striking waterfront setting and distinctive design through to its sophisticated dining options and refined standard of service – is exceptionally boutique. Indeed, its launch is set to redefine the resort experience for guests and visitors to Salalah, as well as enhance Dhofar’s international cachet as a tourism and leisure destination in its own right. Designed by celebrated Egyptian architect Adel Mokhtar, this trendy property with its charming Oriental theme offers 64 guestrooms including 21 superbly appointed suites.

OMRAN, DSEZA SIGN USUFRUCT AGREEMENT

QUICKLOOK

Omran has signed an Usufruct Agreement with Duqm Special Economic Zone Authority (DSEZA) to utilise a 17,700sqmt land to develop a hotel facility. Oman’s first-ever prefabricated three-star hotel that has been developed by Omran will cater for the influx of economic activity in the area as a result of the construction of the Duqm Port and Dry Dock. The agreement, signed by HE Yahya Al Jabri, chairman of DSEZA and HE Nasser bin Khamis Al Jashmi, chairman of Omran, signifies the commitment of both organisations to position Duqm as the

Monalisa at Grand Mall Monalisa, a premium clothing retail outlet, has been added to the growing list of retail outlets in Muscat Grand Mall. Monalisa, which specialises in retailing ready to wear garments, footwear and accessories and fashion merchandise for the whole family is part of the well-known Mustafa Hardware Store group (MHS). It has been looking at new retail hotspots and decided to relocate it retail experience to Muscat Grand Mall.

16

July 2012

Virgin partners FRiENDi Virgin Group and FRiENDi GROUP have signed a strategic partnership agreement for the Middle East and Africa. Virgin is the majority shareholder in Virgin Mobile South Africa while FRiENDi GROUP is the leading Mobile Virtual Network Operator (MVNO) group in the Middle East. The two groups will merge their regional telecom operations to create a combined entity, ‘Virgin Mobile Middle East & Africa’ (VMMEA).

largest logistical hub in the Middle East. “Duqm is a burgeoning area and we will require at least 600 rooms within this period,” said HE Al Jabri. “In order to absorb this growth, we have joined forces with Omran to assist us in developing hospitality venues of quality standards in record time.” HE Nasser bin Khamis Al Jashmi commented, “Our partnership with Duqm Special Economic Zone Authority emphasises the importance of building key infrastructure projects outside the capital area.

Cluttons holds strategy day Cluttons recently held a regional strategy day at its Oman offices. Regional director, Ian Gladwin, presented a top-level brand update, followed by each of the professional and agency teams sharing their individual business plans and strategies. The Cluttons network has continued to expand throughout the Middle East recently with the addition of a dedicated Abu Dhabi office, a strategic alliance with VPC Asia and an expansion of service lines.

Ajmal Perfumes teams up with 3i Infotech 3i Infotech has recently entered into a contract to install and implement the ORION Enterprise 10.6 ERP system for Ajmal Perfumes. The implementation of the ORION Enterprise ERP solutions package will benefit the perfume connoisseurs significantly by bringing their business operations from across the globe into a single unified system.


BUSINESS BRIEFS

VALE PARTNERS OUTWARD BOUND OMAN Vale has teamed up with Outward Bound Oman to tailor-make an experience-based outdoor programme entitled ‘Discover Yourself’, to develop students’ employability and leadership skills in Al Batinah governorate. Over the next three years, 216 youth from schools in Liwa and Sohar will take part in three-day expeditions that are designed to build character, instill responsibility and reconnect with oneself and culture. “Outward Bound Oman aims to unlock the potential of Oman’s youth, providing them with the necessary skill-sets for a lifetime of professional growth,” said HH Sayyid Faisal bin Turki Al Said, Patron of Outward Bound Oman during the partnership agreement signing ceremony. “The Omani culture has forever embraced the outdoors and our beautiful terrains provide us with a variety of adventurous landscapes that allow students the opportunity to learn beyond what is taught in the classroom.”

PALESTINIAN DELEGATION VISITS OMAN A high-profile business delegation from Palestine visited Knowledge Oasis Muscat (KOM), the technical arm of the Public Establishment for Industrial Estates, recently to explore ways of cooperation between the Sultanate and Palestine in various fields. A group of members representing Palestinian Businessmen Association hailed the Sultanate’s efforts for promoting excellent investment environment. The Palestinian delegates represent major institutions and companies operating in various areas in Palestine.

WIPRO OPENS OFFICE IN OMAN Wipro, the global IT services major, opened its new office in the Sultanate, at the Knowledge Oasis IT hub, to support the expanding business in the country. Wipro is working with Petroleum Development Oman (PDO) for the deployment of Collaborative Work Environments (CWE). A custom-designed facility to support improved field management through the integration of people, process, and technology, CWE enhances organisational efficiency and effectiveness and is a common solution within the accepted portfolio of digital oilfield solutions.

CONFERENCE ON INDIAN INVESTMENT OPPORTUNITIES

QUICKLOOK

The Embassy of India, Muscat, and Qurum Business Group in partnership with Geogit BNP Pariba has organised a conference titled ‘India: The Incredible Investment Destination’ under the auspices of HH Sayyid Taimour bin Assad al Said recently at Grand Hyatt Muscat. A high level delegation from the Indian ministry of finance, led by Dr Thomas Mathew, joint secretary, capital markets, participated in the conference which also had senior representatives from the Securities and Exchange Board of India (SEBI), Reserve Bank of India (RBI), Department of Revenue (tax authorities) and Department of Disinvestments as part of the delegation. Senior officials from the government and financial sector regulators addressed the questions and clarified doubts of potential investors.

Nawras demonstrates power of investor relations Nawras recently showcased its ability to establish a robust investor relations function at the Middle East Investor Relations Society Qatar Conference in Doha. The conference examined ways to raise the profile of investor relations amongst companies in the Middle East and its role in the marketing communications while addressing the challenges facing listed companies.

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KHIMJI’S WATCHES sponsors Sudoko Event Khimji’s Watches and Brand Oris were key sponsors for the Black and White Sudoko Event which took place recently at the Al Bustan Palace. The event, which is in its third year, was coordinated by the Black and White magazine to raise awareness about Autism in Oman and to act as a stepping stone for the establishment of a much needed centre for Autism.

Oman Oil launches Takatuf Scholars Programme Oman Oil Company has launched Takatuf Scholars Programme for young Omanis encouraging them to work together for the future of Oman by combining knowledge and practical skills. Each year, the Takatuf Scholars Programme will identify 60 of Oman’s brightest and most engaged students in Grade 11 through a rigorous selection process.

Anti-littering campaign in Jabal Al Akhdar Omran recently concluded the second phase of its anti-littering campaign ‘Working Together for a Better Environment and Beautiful Nation’ in Jabal Al Akhdar. The campaign was aimed to foster environmentally conscious behaviour amongst society and tourists. The activities included a clean-up of Wadi Bani Habib and planting of indigenous olive trees in five public parks.


EXECUTIVE MOVEMENTS

Oman Air has appointed Janab Al Sayyid Captain Manin bin Khalifa bin Said Al-Said as general manager, quality and safety. The role, which includes responsibility for emergency response planning, was previously included within the duties of chief officer, flight operations. Captain Al-Said began his career in aviation in 1970 and was commissioned into the Sultan of Oman’s Air Force in 1974. He joined Gulf Air in 1979, initially as a pilot, and subsequently

rose to the position of head of flight safety and quality assurance. His most recent role prior to joining Oman Air included being an IOSA qualified auditor/consultant with aviation quality services in Frankfurt, carrying out IOSA and company audits on a range of airlines. Furthermore, Captain Al-Said was the co-founder and first chairman, from 2005 to 2007, of the Gulf Flight Safety Committee, which now has more than 100 aviation industry, corporate and airline members. Welcoming Captain Al-Said to Oman Air, the airline’s CEO, Wayne Pearce, said, “I am extremely pleased that we have been able to appoint Captain Manin to the role of general manager, quality and safety and everyone at Oman Air offers him a warm welcome. He brings with him a wealth of experience gained over many years within the aviation industry.”

Steffen Schubert

John Blanthorne

SHUAA Capital has appointed Steffen Schubert and John Blanthorne to the board of directors of its wholly owned lending business, Gulf Finance Corporation PSJC (GFC). Schubert is a chartered director of the Institute of Directors (IOD) in the UK and serves as a non-executive director on multiple boards throughout

Europe and the Middle East. Previously, he was CEO of the Dubai International Financial Exchange. John Blanthorne is an experienced international financial services expert, having completed 35 years with HSBC Bank throughout Europe, the Middle East, Asia and the Pacific region. He is currently a director of two banks in East Africa.

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Jijo N David has been appointed as the head – ERP practices at Al Kay’s International. Jijo is a business application/ERP consultant

with 20+ years of expertise in the areas of business application development and implementation starting from product evaluation to project sign-off and support, out of which 10 years of experience in Microsoft dynamics ERP implementation, support and project management. And he has successfully completed 30+ Microsoft dynamics ERP implementation in the Middle East/India/US/UK region. He has prepared RFP/ RFQ and ERP evaluation for business houses.

DHL has appointed Turgay Sarikaya as the country manager for DHL Express in Oman, overseeing the strategic development. Sarikaya has over twenty years of experience in express logistics, joining DHL Express Turkey in 1991. He has held various positions in Turkey, spearheaded the opening of various DHL Express offices, held the position of regional customer manager at DHL Express for Global Multi National Customers (GMNC) in Dubai from 2006 to 2008 and was country manager at DHL

Express Jordan in 2010 and 2011. Sarikaya graduated from the Istanbul University with a Master’s in European Community and Turkey Affairs, and a degree in International Politics.

Gulf Custody Company (GCC) has appointed Ali Hamed AlShidhani as its Oman branch deputy and acting general manager. Al -Shidhani will head a team that is responsible for the market development

of the custodianship business to meet the needs of the large investors in the Omani market for a specialised, independent, trusted service provider who will add value to their investment function. Al -Shidhani, who is an MBA holder from Cleveland State University brings over 13 years of experience in the financial sector to the role. He had started his career with US Bank in Cleveland Ohio. The last position he held before his recent appointment was financial and organisation client management consultant.


INTHENEWS

Nawras has teamed up with Huawei to turbocharge its network and rev up the customer experience

Unlocking new vistas of communication

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awras has signed an agreement with Huawei to turbocharge the Nawras Radio Access Network (RAN) by upgrading all sites to enhanced 3G+ and increasing coverage, in-building penetration, capacity and speed of the entire network. At the same time Nawras will be launching the highly anticipated 4G LTE technology, introducing one of the world’s most advanced wireless communication technologies to provide high-speed mobile data with an exciting new level of customer experience. The signing ceremony took place at Muscat Grand Mall and was attended by Nawras executive committee members, Huawei management, officials from the Telecommunications Regulatory Authority (TRA), and Nawras family members. An energetic and colourful display bridged the two rich and vibrant cultures as a band of Omani drummers and Chinese lion dancers performed in tribute to the heritage and dynamism of the two companies. Live demonstrations of the new technology showed the incredible speed and capabilities that customers will soon be enjoying for superfast file downloading, seamless streaming of films and videos and a

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myriad of multimedia opportunities. “We are delighted to be joining forces with Huawei who have a wealth of experience and undisputed track record after building many of the world’s most advanced LTE networks,” said Ross Cormack, CEO of Nawras. “4G LTE will essentially revolutionise the way we communicate with superfast, highquality broadband internet service, unlocking a world of communication opportunities beyond imagination. With this cutting edge technology, we will introduce exciting services to give a seamless, smooth multimedia experience, whether it’s watching HD television or reading an interactive online news story with animation, audio and video feeds. We will be making communication even more exciting and even more rewarding.” He added, “We would like to thank the TRA for their tremendous support and for making it possible for us to launch LTE FDD in the 1800 spectrum, which is one of the industry’s de facto standards, providing access to a very high number of devices for customers. Together with this decision and the TRA’s release of two more 3G+ frequencies, we will at least triple our mobile broadband capacity to serve

our broadband hungry customers. As we turbocharge our network by increasing and enhancing 3G+ sites and introducing 4G LTE, we will continue to update customers at every step.” Fast Services Around 30 per cent of sites will be turbocharged before the end of December 2012 and customers will immediately notice the difference as they start to receive fast 3G+ and 4G services. The 4G LTE network will cover all major areas of Muscat governorate by the end of 2012. All major cities will enjoy LTE coverage by June 2013. “Huawei and Nawras share a mutual commitment to developing customercentric telecom networks in Oman, and we are proud to see this latest agreement build on a long and fruitful history of collaboration,” noted Xiao Ning, president of Qtel key account, Huawei. “Within the region, 4G technologies such as LTE are on the verge of becoming an essential part of people’s everyday lives.” In addition to the launch of 4G LTE, 3G+ population coverage will rise dramatically from 53 per cent to 97 per cent over the next three years including greater coverage in remote areas across the Sultanate. 


INTHENEWS

In what can be termed as two crucial strides in telecom indsutry, Omantel entered into an agreement with Etisalat to expand Global MPLS connectivity, and teamed up with Batelco to launch MPLS IP VPN interconnectivity between Oman and Bahrain

Expanding MPLS connectivity

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tisalat and Omantel signed an agreement which will allow both operators to expand their Global IP VPN footprint. The agreement which was inked recently at Omantel headquarters in Muscat will enhance the connectivity options for corporate customers between the UAE and Oman. The two leading telecom service providers joined forces to commence the installation of Etisalat’s Global MPLS (Multi Protocol Label Switching) node in Oman. The project once completed will enable Etisalat’s customers to connect their offices on Etisalat’s backbone between UAE and Oman networks. The agreement with Omantel will enable both companies to deliver greater coverage, seamless user experience and reliable technology to their respective customers. “Etisalat is delighted to announce the collaboration with Omantel in expanding our footprint of Global MPLS services,” said Abdulla Al Ahmed, senior vice president – business at Etisalat. “This will also help us capitalise on the strong and growing economic ties between Oman and the UAE to offer end-to-end connectivity solutions to corporate customers in both countries. Businesses can now rely on our mutual partnership

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to support their mission-critical applications through a seamless network for enhanced convenience and high quality of service standards.” “We are pleased to take our longstanding partnership with Etisalat to new heights by the signing of this new agreement,”said Sohail Qadir, vice president - Omantel wholesale business. “The agreement will enable our growing number of MPLS state-ofthe-art service customers to connect with their offices in both countries benefitting from the strong and reliable fiber connectivity that links both countries and the international reach of both respective operators.”

VPN interconnectivity with Bahrain In another development, Omantel and Bahrain’s Batelco launched MPLS IP VPN interconnectivity between Oman and Bahrain. The partnership agreement was signed on the sidelines of the International Telecoms Week (ITW) held in Chicago, US, by Omantel’s senior manager of capacity and submarine at wholesale business unit, Johannes Boersma and Batelco’s general manger of enterprise division and government, Adel Daylami. Building on existing agreements, this partnership will allow bi-lateral Data IP Services to be sold between Oman

and Bahrain, as well as providing onestop-shop transit services to Omantel’s and Batelco’s carrier partners, enabling both parties to extend corporate VPN solutions between their respective markets. This agreement will provide state-of-the-art, end-to-end MPLS VPN services to Oman and Bahrain-based businesses that wish to establish secure inter-office connectivity between both locations. Through this agreement, Omantel and Batelco will further strengthen its offering to carrier and corporate customers in all GCC countries, Middle East as well as anywhere around the globe. “Omantel provides a comprehensive range of managed services to companies and carriers, and this new agreement with Batelco enables Omantel to increase the depth of its MPLS VPN portfolio, adding additional regional capabilities,” said Johannes Boersma. “The company is proud to work with Batelco, which is a long-term partner of Omantel.” “This strategic bi-lateral understanding is an important addition to Batelco’s portfolio of OSS agreements,” said Daylami. “Links for Batelco’s international customers and partners can now be extended to all GCC countries through Batelco’s Global IP VPN reliable, state-of-the-art network.” 


EVENT

CELEBRATION OF SUCCESS AIWA Awards for Best Performing Companies felicitated the top ranked companies listed on Muscat Securities Market

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n a red carpet gala function at Shangri La Barr Al Jissah on June 10, AIWA Awards For Best Performing Companies recognised and celebrated the success of top achievers of corporate Oman in 2011. HE Dr Rasheed bin Al Safi Al Huraibi, chairman of the Tender Board, was the chief guest for the award function. The event was held under the auspices of HH Sayyid Tarik bin Shabib. AIWA Awards for Best Performing Companies are instituted by Alam al-Iktisaad Wal A’mal (AIWA), Oman’s leading Arabic monthly business magazine, published by United Media Services (UMS).

Performing Companies. In the large cap segment, AhliBank topped the list of winners for the second successive year in a row. It was followed by four other winners including National Bank of Oman, BankSohar, BankMuscat and Omantel.In the mid cap segment, Oman Refreshment emerged on top. The other winners in the segment included United Finance, Taageer Finance, Oman Chlorine and Al Omaniya Financial Services. In the small cap category, Oman Fiber Optics was ranked number one. It was followed by other winners including Muscat National Holding, Sahara Hospitality, Oman Orix Leasing and National Gas.

“A roaring success, AIWA Awards for Best Performing Companies has emerged as a benchmark for measuring excellence in corporate performance in Oman,” commented Alpana Roy, executive vice president, United Media Services (UMS). The banks and non-banking finance companies (NBFCs) swept the AIWA Awards For Best

His Excellency Mohammad al Zubair, the founder of Zubair Group and advisor to His Majesty was honoured with the AIWA Lifetime Achievement Award. His son Husam Al Zubair, who is the vice chairman of Zubair Automotive Group, received the trophy on behalf of HE Mohammad al Zubair. Petroleum Development Oman

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(PDO) won the AIWA Award for Excellence in Corporate Leadership. Noted businessman Hussain Salman Al Lawati, vice chairman and managing director of Oman Cables Industry and chairman of Oman Aluminium Processing Industries, walked away with the AIWA Global Omani of the Year Award. Leading brands in the Sultanate had joined hands with Alam al-Iktisaad Wal A’mal, the leading business publication from United Media Services, in bringing the AIWA Awards for Best Performing Companies to life. Bank Sohar and Genesis Prada (the luxury car series from Hyundai) were the Strategic Partners. Mouawad, Muscat Pharmacy and The Wave, Muscat were the support partners. Gulf Baader Capital Markets (GBCM) was the knowledge partner whereas KPMG was the validation partner for the ranking process used for the awards. Times of Oman and Al Shabiba were the media partners.


AIWA AWARDS FOR BEST PERFORMING COMPANIES

WINNERS LARGE CAP SEGMENT • AhliBank • National Bank of Oman • Bank Sohar • BankMuscat • Oman Telecommunications Company (Omantel) MID CAP SEGMENT • Oman Refreshment Company • United Finance Company • Taageer Finance Company • Oman Chlorine • Al Omaniya Financial Services SMALL CAP SEGMENT • Oman Fiber Optic Company • Muscat National Holding Company • Sahara Hospitality Co. • Oman Orix Leasing Company • National Gas Company

AIWA LIFETIME ACHIEVEMENT AWARD HE Mohammad Al Zubair

Strategic Partners

AIWA AWARD FOR EXCELLENCE IN CORPORATE LEADERSHIP Petroleum Development Oman (PDO)

Support Partners

AIWA GLOBAL OMANI OF THE YEAR AWARD Hussain Salman Al-Lawati

Media Partners


PERISCOPE

By Matein Khalid

Downside risk for global markets GCC stock, bond and property markets cannot escape collateral damage from the European crisis and a Wall Street stock market crash

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ear markets, like Count Tolstoy’s unhappy families, are all different. The summer of 2012 is unlike the post Lehman swan dive of 2008, the technology bubble bust of 2000-1 or the Asian currency meltdown of 1998. However, like its predecessors, the European debt crisis can well escalate into global financial contagion and a worldwide banking credit crunch. It is impossible to estimate the value of the S&P500 index in such an uncertain scenario but American equities could well fall 25 per cent below their April highs before the summer is over. One, the softness in the last two monthly nonfarm payroll numbers demonstrates that recession risk in America is all too real, despite the improvement in home sales/price indices and the steep fall in oil/gasoline prices on the eve of the driving season. The Bernanke Fed could yet expand its balance sheet, even implement QE3, though the dramatic fall in US Treasury bond yields eases the pressure for additional monetary policy stimulus. The 20 per cent drop in both West Texas and Brent crude oil prices is a steroid shot for the US consumer. Net-net, the US could muddle through 2012, albeit with mediocre 2 per cent GDP growth.

The author is a renowned investment banker based in Dubai

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Two, the collapse in oil and copper signals a hard landing in the Middle Kingdom, the world’s great gas guzzling sweatshop economic colossus. PMI, industrial production, bank loan growth, import, exports have all plummeted and there is every reason

now to doubt if Premier Wen’s 7.5 per cent GDP growth target is realistic. This is the reason the Chinese Politburo has swiftly responded with three PBOC successive reserve ratio cuts and a lending rate cut since November. China will do everything possible to ensure that economic growth does not collapse as the Communist Party anoints a new generation of leaders at the Party Congress to succeed Hu Jintao and Wen Jiabao.

Endgame of European crisis Yet the real bogeyman for the financial markets is neither the US nor China but the endgame of the sovereign debt crisis in Europe. Spain, with its crippled banking system, a Madrid government that has lost credibility with its fiscal flip flops and inability to control spending by regional governments in Catalonia and Andalusia (the post Franco political devolution settlement in Spain makes the 17 regional capitals autonomous in their budget processes), its 24 per cent unemployment rate, its two trillion Euro public debt, is a systemic threat, despite the recent EU bank lifeline. What will be the impact on Spain if contagion spreads from a Greek EMU exit across the banking systems of Club Med? This is Europe’s ‘Lehman risk’ since Hellenic contagion guarantees a severe European recession and systemic shocks across the international banking system and credit crises. At that fateful moment, the Fed, the ECB, the PBOC, the Bank of Japan and the Bank of England could be forced to engineer the mother of all “shock and awe” monetary reflation.


However, the German diktat on austerity and refusal to sanction ECB firefalls for European banks means the risk of Drachmageddon and Lehman Part Two in the credit markets is almost certain if Alexis Tspiras of the radical left Syriza party wins the Greek elections. If Tspiras repudiates the Berlin/IMF bailout terms, all bets are off. Greek banks lose their ECB lifeline, the Athens government runs out of cash, its citizens could well run out of food, fuel and medicine. The Athens government would fall, new elections or a military takeover would be the endgame of the economic shock (Greece was ruled by a military junta in 1967-73). The lamps will flicker and die across the Old World, exactly as they did in August 1914.

Brink of catastrophic destruction Europe is now in deep crisis and the European Commission will lean on the Germans to accede to a “lender of the last resort” role for the ECB, a common deposit insurance scheme and the issue of Eurobonds. After all, even Chancellor Merkel has now conceded that “there are no taboos” in her quest for mehr Europe (more integration). As Bretton Woods, the Plaza/Louvre Accords, the post Lehman credit crunch in 2008 remind us, the world’s

European debt crisis can well escalate into global financial contagion and a worldwide banking credit crunch most powerful governments and central banks will not hesitate to act to prevent a catastrophic destruction of the international monetary system. The EMU will not unravel, even if Greece exits amid short term monetary shocks. The S&P 500 index has closed below its 200 day moving average in June and West Texas is below its $89 one year Fibonacci retracement level, so I believe the trend in global equities and commodities is still lower. A bear market is in full swing in bellwether emerging markets such as India, Russia, China and Brazil, whose currencies and stock markets are in free fall. However, brief market panics (2006, 1998, 1987) are a different animal than protracted bear markets accompanied by economic recessions (2001, 2008-9).

What is the downside risk for American equities if a Greek exit escalates into contagion, a banking crisis in Europe, a hard landing in China and recession in the US. S&P500 index earnings could then easily fall by 10 per cent. The stock market valuation metrics will derate as EPS growth estimates are revised lower and volatility rises (VIX in 40-45 range at the peak of crisis, as in 2011). The markets would then expect $90 index earnings and derate to a multiple of 10. So downside risk on American equities could then be catastrophic, a fall in the S&P500 index to 900. There is no way GCC stock, bond and property markets can escape collateral damage from the European crisis and a Wall Street stock market crash. Brent crude oil has fallen by $25 but, if Europe and China growth plunges in unison, Brent could fall to $60-70, exactly as happened in 2008. The GCC currency pegs mean the global safe haven surge in the dollar imports deflation risk in the regional stock and property markets, where additional corrections are possible. Remember JP Morgan’s fateful warning: “Liquidity is like a cab in New York on a rainy night. It disappears just when you need it the most”. 


TELECOM

Omantel launches 4G LTE network The Sultan Qaboos University campus was among the first to enjoy 4G LTE services launched by Omantel

enhance our existing offerings for our customers to benefit from. With the awarding of the 4G LTE network contracts last month by Tender Board, we have now reached a stage where our customers can soon start enjoying 4G LTE services through affordable modems and as the technology is developing we will see more devices and handsets with even lower prices.” Haitham Al Kharusi further explained.

Haitham Abdullah Al Kharusi VP Consumer Unit at Omantel

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mantel is paving the way for the future of telecom in the country and marking a historical milestone with the launch of its state-of-the-art 4G LTE network that is centered on providing unparalleled fast broadband speeds in the coming few days. The launch of Oman’s first 4G LTE network shows the company’s leadership and commitment in providing the most advanced broadband services. Long Term Evolution 4G will be the prevailing future mobile broadband technology and is capable of delivering speeds upto 100 Mbps. This technology will provide customers the opportunity to stream, download,

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Prof Amer Ali Al Rawas Deputy Vice Chancellor for Post-graduate & Research at SQU

upload data and play online games faster than ever before. “When developing our 4G LTE proposition, we have focused on real customer broadband needs which were all about speed, reliability and quality. The new low-latency network will offer superior speeds which we expect will have a strong appeal to individual and corporate customers alike making them the perfect fit for almost every customer’s needs,” Haitham Abdullah Al Kharusi, vice president of Omantel’s consumer business unit said. “We have been investing in adopting new technologies focusing always on the matured technologies that will

“As we strive to make our customers the first in the Sultanate to experience this state-of-the-art network, we are proud to announce that we will launch the Sultanate’s first 4G LTE network soon in different areas where SQU Campus will be one of the first areas allowing thousands of students, academic faculty and employees as well as general public to subscribe and truly enjoy 4G LTE services for the first time.” Al Kharusi added. Commenting on Omantel’s decision to launch 4G LTE services, Prof Amer Ali Al Rawas, deputy vice-chancellor for postgraduate studies and research at Sultan Qaboos University, said “We are delighted that SQU campus has been selected as one of the first areas in the Sultanate to witness the launch of first truly 4G LTE network. Our faculty, employees and students will be able from the first day of launch to enjoy the internet at unprecedented speeds which we believe will support SQU efforts in enhancing the learning and knowledge acquiring initiatives and will offer them more options to get connected to the internet”. 


COVERSTORY


COVERSTORY

Obstacles: Perception vs reality There are few countries which can match the strides taken by Oman on social and economic indicators. This has propelled the Sultanate into a high income country in a short span. But the World Bank’s “Doing Business index” which tracks the ease of doing business across 183 economies ranks Oman below the GCC average. OER speaks to a cross section of industry leaders to delve into the obstacles facing businesses in Oman. Visvas Paul D Karra reports with Mayank Singh

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n an “EESE” (enabling environment for sustainable enterprises) Assessment for the Sultanate of Oman, the International Labour Office (ILO) has found that 70 per cent of firms believe that Oman’s regulatory environment makes it difficult for small businesses to compete with large businesses. This discovery was made during a survey conducted by the ILO among 150 respondents from a cross section of the industry including company owners, CEOs, directors and general managers of private sector firms. The survey focused on policy areas such as entrepreneurship; culture; competition; enabling legal and regulatory environment; good governance; information and communications technology; education, training and lifelong learning/skills and education; adequate social dialogue/social protection and work force relations. One of the important themes which also emerged in this ILO survey is that young Omanis do not start a business precisely because of the difficulty in doing business in Oman. So clearly there are a number of issues and challenges being faced by businesses in the country.

Qais Al Khonji, Director, Al Khonji Group

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One of the most obvious challenges is the lack of clear information. For example, most Omani investors or entrepreneurs are not aware of the classification of what could constitute


a small business. No doubt, statistics are available in the Directorate General of SME Development about Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs). For the record’s sake, there are around 121,000 SMEs operating in Oman constituting more than 90 per cent of the economic activity and around 20 per cent of the GDP. Mainly, the projects of these enterprises are in the wholesale, retail and foodstuffs sectors which represent 41 per cent of the total projects, while the industrial and contracting projects represent 17 per cent and 31 per cent respectively. “From a policy perspective, while the importance of private sector development and entrepreneurship (read SME development) are acknowledged in the eighth five-year plan (2011-2015), there is no separate policy framework drawn up for promoting entrepreneurship culture or SMEs in Oman. Action on this should be a priority,” says the ILO in its EESE Assessment.

Hassan Mohammed Juma, MD and founder of Mohammed Juma Sultan Co

SNAPSHOTS OF OBSTACLES Marketing is the biggest challenge many small businesses face Lack of support from family and friends to buy new products and spread the news Big companies dominating market and smaller businesses not getting share of projects Administrative issues like bureaucratic delays in registrations etc. Oman is small market and poses tough challenge to sell products and services People are more of savers and spend only on necessities and buy few luxury products Labour regulations and lack of clarity in Omanisation policy Multi-tasking not allowed in manufacturing units Lack of proper awareness and education about entrepreneurship Factory workers not mature enough to use the power of collective bargaining in legal manner With the current salary levels and Omanisation percentages, operating costs are going up Work stoppages in various companies could have ramifications on new investments

The same sentiment has been echoed by a well known consultancy firm which prepared an executive summary for the directorate general for the development of small and medium enterprises, Ministry of Commerce and Industry (MoCI). The report summarises that there is a lack of an SME policy framework and national strategy which is coupled with the fact that the existing policy framework is not conducive to SMEs. Due to this, there is minimal coordination and alignment of SME programmes leading to a stunted growth of this vital cog of the economy.

Ground realities According to Qais Al Khonji, director, Al Khonji Group, SMEs are the backbone of any economy and contribute a lion’s share of the revenues generated, but in Oman there are quite a few obstacles which are hampering SMEs from performing at an optimal level. And even though the government has been trying its level best to minimise the obstacles and help SMEs to flourish, Qais believes that more can be done.

Qais points out one challenge which SMEs in general face is marketing of new products. Any SME company which starts operations needs help in creating awareness about its products or services. But this is not easy especially in a market like Oman. “Marketing is the biggest challenge that any small businesses face and we require more marketing support for a better kick off,” says Qais. And this support can come from any quarter. It could be as simple as family and friends promoting your product. For example, friends and family members could buy an SME product or make use of a service and spread the news around through the word of mouth. The other notable obstacle and a macro-economic factor which works against SME growth and development is the prevailing market conditions in the Sultanate, underlines Qais. Since Oman is a very small market it is a tough challenge to garner the requisite numbers in terms of buyers. Further, most Omani people are more inclined towards saving money and


COVERSTORY

spend only where necessary. In such a situation, buying luxury products or services is very minimal. So it is really tough for upcoming SMEs or fledgling companies to penetrate the market without hand-holding by the government or any other competent body. Hassan Mohammed Juma, managing director and founder of Mohammed Juma Sultan Co, says when you begin a business many people look at you with skepticism and little respect. Today the situation may be better but seven years ago, the concept of entrepreneurship was not flourishing. Being an entrepreneur at that time meant that you could catch hold of an expatriate and give him your license and take RO500 from him as returns at the end of every month. That was how you ran a business, says Hassan.

Starting problems According to the ILO assessment, poorly designed regulations and unnecessary bureaucratic burdens on business put limitations on enterprise start-ups and can lead to informality. In some areas, Oman has progressively improved the business environment through greater liberalisation and measures aimed at reducing regulatory burdens. It has primarily focused on reducing costs and time required for starting a business and on simplifying tax procedures. But it seems these measures are not enough. “There are many challenges that face SMEs and one of the main challenges or obstacles would be to start the business itself,” says Khaula Hamoud Al Harthy, executive director, Lima Contracting and Trading. Citing her own example, Khaula says, “If I were to take myself as an example, although I have been working in our company which is a small and medium enterprise (a family business) and have been involved in it for the past 8 years, I would still face many challenges if I had to start a new business of my own. Some of those are lack of experience, guidance from the right authorities, and lack of enough skilled manpower in the chosen field of business. So most

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Khaula Hamoud Al Harthy, Executive Director, Lima Contracting and Trading

of the challenges come up when you want to start a business. Adds Khaula, “Since many people don’t know how to start a business, to compound the complications, we don’t have a properly activated one-stop-shop which would help us to start a business. I think there is a communication problem between the citizen’s expectations and the government initiatives, which unfortunately has discouraged a number of people from setting up new businesses. I do believe that things would change for the better in the coming future since the government has realised the importance of SMEs and their impact on our national economy, therefore their plan would be to support existing SMEs and encourage new ones to come up.”

Regulatory lacunae Hassan says that that one of the big challenges for SMEs in some cases is the non-compliance with the system, be it by the people or the government staff. Everyone follows their own judgments, creates hurdles for

business. For example, a government employee may be giving clearance for certain imported products with his own understanding of the regulation. But the next person who comes after him refuses to give a clearance for the same product. We try to object but then we later realise that the earlier person was actually at fault for not following the system and using only his judgment. “Another obstacle is the lack of accountability among the service providers, be it in the private sector or government. I believe that all large service providers should have KPIs for their employees. If an employee receives 100 applications for processing per day, and if he or she complains of being overloaded, then what is the benchmark for this overload? Are you overloaded because last night you were watching a football match and today morning you don’t feel like working or is there any other reason?”, adds Hassan. The subject of Omanisation continues to be the pinprick and pet grievance for


COVERSTORY

most of the organisations, but another regulatory problem boils down to understanding the requirements of a business for the right manpower and in the required numbers. If someone is running a B2B business, they can have a small premises as a representative office and don’t need as much space as that of a bank because most of the staff are out in the market doing business. A number of times such an organisation is refused to be given the required number of labour clearances because it has a small premises. The regulators should understand the nature of the business and how much staff they require, Hassan adds. Basically, the whole SME sector is still in a nascent stage although it is supposed to be the backbone of the economy. Both the Oman Chamber of Commerce and Industry (OCCI) as well as MoCI are involved in developing the SME sector, says Khaula who is a member of the SME department of the OCCI which has just been founded. “Right now we are working on some kind of a definition for the SMEs which would help us to move forward. The committee’s main

ILO SURVEY ON ENABLING ENVIRONMENT FOR SUSTAINABLE ENTERPRISES ASSESSMENT ILO survey on enabling environment for sustainable enterprises assessment Peace and political stability: 15 per cent of survey respondents said that political instability/ uncertainty was affecting their business a lot while 48 per cent said the instability was affecting their business to some extent Good governance: Most firms believe that corruption and bribery hinders the performance of Omani firms while female-owned or female-run firms felt corruption and bribery had a very negative impact on firms’ performance. Social dialogue: The current situation in terms of workplace relations and the related legislative frameworks in Oman is fluid. Recent legislative changes have enabled the freedom to establish labour unions in all firms and the right to bargain collectively, but it appears that these legislative changes have led to some confusion Enabling legal and regulatory environment: 70 per cent of firms believe that Oman’s regulatory environment makes it difficult for small businesses to compete with large businesses Nearly 40 per cent of firms felt that business required dealings with the Government can be too bureaucratic and could be improved Fair competition: Competition policy remains a concern for the business community. Nearly 1 in 2 firms describe competition policy and legislation in Oman as not efficient or only sometimes efficient in preventing unfair competition. Firms in the manufacturing sector in particular are concerned about fair competition Entrepreneurship culture: The survey results suggest that there is a positive view of entrepreneurship from young people (41 per cent sharing this view). However, a large sample of enterprises surveyed (43 per cent) believe that only a small minority of young people have the right skills to successfully run a business NOTE: This primary data collection consisted of 150 face to face interviews with a cross section of firms, of varying sizes and sectoral activities from across the country. The survey was conducted by Arabian Research Bureau, under the aegis of the ILO.

Salah bin Hilal Al Maawali, Director General, SME Department, Ministry of Commerce and Industry

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goals are to help out SMEs in getting the financial support, get the government to support the SMEs through simplifying the process of setting up a business, to raise awareness of the importance of SMEs within our society, and to encourage the setting up of more SMEs,” Khaula adds.

Education and entrepreneurship One of the areas in which the government should focus their energies is educating the youth of the country to become entrepreneurs. This move, while seemingly aimed at the grassroots will provide the much needed impetus for bringing about a shift of culture from being ‘sleeping partners’ in expatriate-driven SMEs to active contributors to the economy of the country. Qais suggests that the government represented by both the Ministry of Education and the Ministry of Higher Education has to take an initiative to introduce entrepreneurship courses in grades 11 and 12. He further feels that the ministry of higher education should adopt a new concept of establishing an entrepreneurship academy to foster and inculcate the values of becoming an entrepreneur. Oman has a wide range of separate initiatives to provide entrepreneurs with necessary skills and help them with financing, yet these often seem supply-driven and lack cohesion, says the ILO survey which suggests that there is a positive view of entrepreneurship from young people (41 per cent sharing this view). However, a large sample of enterprises surveyed (43 per cent) believe that only a small minority of young people have the right skills to successfully run a business. Education is where the whole culture shift has to spring from. On this front, MoCI has taken a number of steps to stir up entrepreneurial traits in Omani youth by promoting entrepreneurial clubs in schools and colleges. Says Salah bin Hilal Al Maawali, Director General, SME Department at MoCI, “we have been working with many stakeholders concerned with SMEs to

Dr Bhaskar Dutta, CEO, Jazeera Steel Products Company

develop a strategy for SME sector. Presently, the DG of SME department, set up in 2007, has been providing training support to the existing and potential entrepreneurs of SMEs through structured programmes. The directorategeneral conducted around 76 training programmes covering a wide range of topics including marketing, finance and general management. Many entrepreneurs and academicians participated in these training programmes.” In order to bring awareness about the support services available for the SMEs, the directorate-general has prepared a compendium called, “Directory of Services for SMEs in Oman”. This provides detailed information of the various programmes and services offered by different government and private sector agencies in the Sultanate including the funding options available from the major financial institutions.

Government perspective From the government’s point of view, it has identified two main obstacles for the growth of SMEs. The first obstacle is the expatriate entrepreneurs who are running a large number of small

and medium enterprises. Salah has disclosed that in a study conducted by the ministry, it has been found out that 60 per cent of the 1.3 million expatriates in Oman are owners of businesses under the sleeping partner tactic. These are the people who don’t implement new technology or new systems and don’t provide proper services or employment to local talent since they are too expensive by way of salaries. On the other hand, you have Omani graduates from schools, colleges and universities in the age bracket of 1826, who would like to start their own business. But they don’t have patience, or an understanding of the nature of business, and they don’t have the knowledge of technology and still want to make money as fast as possible. In order to overcome these impediments, the ministry through the DG of SME department, has created incentive packages for Omanis to implement technology, train and give them a better environment for starting their own businesses. “As part of our hand-holding gestures, we have several initiatives like doing


COVERSTORY

absent a day after the holidays. They come back and fill up an emergency or sick leave application. Further, there are no procedures that are being followed, either by the workers or the junior officials in the Ministry of Manpower (MoM) for solving matters. “If some workers go and make a random compliant to the MoM, then the junior officials of the MoM start harassing us based on those complaints. We have certain grievance procedures in our company and if people are not happy, they have to follow this process, but this is not happening. When we raise constructive issues like work culture, tackling absenteeism the MoM officials brush them aside saying that in such instances you need to follow the law. With this indulgence, the workers think that they can do whatever they want,” says Dutta.

Ramesh Mani, CEO, Majan Glass Company

Higher operating costs business from home, loan bank guarantee, a PEIE business centre and a business diagnostic centre to help entrepreneurs start their own ventures. This diagnostic centre will help them to identify the business, develop the business plan and identify the right kind of financing,” Salah says. The scheme for starting a business from home is the simplest and most effective, Salah discloses. Anyone who wants to start a business can register themselves with MoCI by paying three rials for three years and begin their business. After three years, the SME is required to do a formal registration with the OCCI as well the MOCI. It cannot get any better or simpler than this, says Salah. The ministry is also working closely with the Tender Board for a mechanism to give benefits to SMEs through Article 36 which mentions that Omani products have to be taken even if they are priced at 10 per cent higher rate. This way local products, goods and services will be given preference and revenues generated for the smaller companies. Apart from manufacturing sector, the

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services sector has been identified as one of the key thrust areas in which SME development will be encouraged by MOCI.

Work stoppages Talking about difficulties facing businesses in Oman, large companies in manufacturing and the oil and gas sector have been facing real time problems like labour unrest, high turnover of employees etc. There have been instances of work stoppages in various companies in Sohar and Muscat recently. If such problems continue then the ramifications would be very bad as new investments will be impacted and old investors will try and withdraw. There is a loss of productivity and this has to be made up by other workers. Dr Bhaskar Dutta, CEO, Jazeera Steel Products Company, says, the problem is that people only want benefits, bonus, increments etc and they are not interested in work. Almost every company in Sohar is facing similar issues. Absenteeism is galore. During the recent three day holidays of Al Isra’ wal Miraj (June 14 to 16), 40 people were absent a day before the holidays and probably another 40 were

When production levels are affected due to such work stoppages, the results can be disastrous. With the current salary levels and Omanisation percentages, the operating costs of businesses in Oman are somewhere between the Asian and European countries. Our costs are 15-16 per cent higher than Asian countries and 5 per cent less than European countries. Any further increase in costs which is not compensated by an increase in productivity can be disastrous for the industry.” Says Alok Bhargava, CEO, Voltamp Energy, “We are competing against MNCs and Asian countries and if there are further cost increases we will not be able to compete. In fact, any further increase in manpower costs, which is not compensated through government policies, can be disastrous for the manufacturing industry and FDI will be impacted. But I am confident that things will settle down quickly.” Continuing further, Bhargava says, “We increased salaries last year, but now workers are asking for RO350. Our minimum salary is RO255, we have an insurance cover for all our workers and Voltamp has implemented


a five-day week. We have been under pressure from MoM sometimes to hire more Omanis. For a high tech factory like ours at Sohar, it takes at least three years before an untrained person can really add to productivity. Though we have taken 36 per cent Omanis and want to increase it to 40 per cent, the company will need to invest in them for three years, before they reach acceptable levels of productivity. Therefore, initially our costs will be high and need to be compensated in some way by the government.”

Manpower issues Ramesh Mani, CEO, Majan Glass Company, says that getting Omanis has become difficult since February 2011 and he wants the MOM to be a bit more flexible. When the government announced 50,000 jobs a lot of people went away to the army and the government. The day the government announced that it will provide a RO150 unemployment allowance, a number of workers from Majan Glass wanted to resign and avail of those benefits.

Alok Bhargava, CEO, Voltamp Energy

So it was difficult to fill up the 35 per cent Omanisation level and without fulfilling this mandatory criteria, the company was not being given labour clearances, so it was a dual edged sword. Says Mani, “Being a continuous process industry, we could not shut down our plant as the plant produces two million bottles a day. We should have been treated leniently but it did not happen. The choice was either to run the plant or to shut it down. We interviewed 120 Omanis and offered jobs to them, but out of them only five or six stayed back. We went in for contracted labourers to run the plant, but we had people from the MOM coming and conducting raids in the industrial estate and finding faults. For example, the MoM officials came and fined us for people who were multitasking. We have bottles being made and if an Omani worker does not turn up, we need someone to pack the bottles and if an expat worker with a different designation substitutes for an Omani worker, we get fined.”

Two of Majan Glass workers were fined RO1000 each and the MoM officials took away their labour cards for 15 days. This left a bad taste in the mouth. Then the chairman of Majan Glass took up the issue strongly, and Mani too met the DG of the MoM and finally the company start getting labour clearances. It was a situation that could have been handled more intelligently.

Excerising rights unfairly Ensuring labour rights is pre requisite for any country to ensure an equitable growth. However the pace of reforms in Oman have been too quick to sink in. Collective bargaining is a standard practice in any industrialised country but workers in many factories in Oman are not mature enough to use it in legal manner. They have become emboldened and they think they can demand anything and would get it, says Sundeep Mudgal, general manager, Taghleef Industries Oman. Actually, it is unfair to expect that workers would use their new found rights in a mature manner so quickly. It is the government and confederation of industries who need to show a more balanced approach in these matters. They need to caution workers to respect law and find a way to work with company managements. It has been seen many times that they have given one-sided support to workers’ demands. “Our company was on the brink of a strike earlier in this year, thankfully we resolved it by a long negotiation with workers’ union,” adds Mudgal. Promoting an entrepreneurial culture is about making people – especially young people – aware of the potential of setting up and running a business as an alternative to employment in government and the private sector. Even though there are challenges, overall, there are a number of initiatives to promote entrepreneurial culture and, together with broader government initiatives to foster private sector development, there should be no shortage of opportunities for budding entrepreneurs. It is upto the younger generation to rise up to the challenge and contribute to the country. 


ECONOMY

By Oliver Cornock

Diversifying national revenues Sultanate’s historic potential as a regional hub has never been more achievable

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n addition to its sizeable reserves of oil and gas, Oman enjoys another geographical advantage. It is central to the region, and its position at the mouth of the Persian Gulf makes it an obvious location for the trans-shipment of goods. As the Sultanate looks to reduce its dependence on hydrocarbons, a wealth of ambitious road, rail and air projects is now in the pipeline to develop the country’s huge potential as a ‘gateway’ to the region. In April, Oman United Engineering Services (OUES) and Portugal’s Sociedade de Construções Soares da Costa – who are ranked among the world’s 100 biggest contractors – won a contract to build road infrastructure linking the new Muscat International Airport with the Muscat Expressway. Valued at around $62m, the OmaniPortuguese partnership saw off several contenders for the bid.

Focus on infrastructure

The author is Regional Editor, Oxford Business Group

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This is the result of increasing infrastructure prioritisation within Oman, which means that realising the Sultanate’s historic potential as a regional hub has never been more achievable. The latest five-year plan (2011-2015) allocates some $78bn toward infrastructure spending, representing a 113 per cent increase on the last five-year plan. This government investment is planned for a range of large-scale projects, including over $25bn on building construction, $15bn investment

in Salalah Free Zone, investment of $1bn on developing a medical city (also in Salalah). Last year, a report by Business Monitor International described Oman’s construction and infrastructure sectors as “fragile”, citing the Oman Cement Company’s 77 per cent drop in 4Q profits for 2010 as evidence of a weak sector, which would struggle to recover. Yet, less than a year later, the situation has been transformed. If Omani infrastructure was ever considered “weak” in the past, it must surely now be recognised as one of the most promising sectors going forward. The results of the marked rise in sector spending speak for themselves; since the implementation of the latest Five-Year Plan, the non-hydrocarbon sector has exhibited rapid increases in their GDP contributions, including manufacturing (with 17.5 per cent growth), electricity and water (9.5 per cent) and construction (5.8 per cent).

Diversifying economy Of course, oil and gas continue to play a significant role in Oman’s economic performance, contributing just under half of GDP in 2011. Indeed, the government is continuing with its plans to diversify, modernise and “Omanise” the economy to the extent that oil will only contribute 9 per cent of GDP by 2020, according to Vision 2020, Oman’s diversification policy. As part of these plans, infrastructure


upgrades play a key part in supporting non-hydrocarbon growth. Specifically, it’s the transport sector that is set to be the big winner from this increased funding. The current Five-Year Plan sets aside around $20bn for transport infrastructure projects up to 2015. This includes a new terminal at Muscat International Airport, which will be completed by 2014, with the capacity to handle 12mn passengers annually. Furthermore, Oman’s connection with the inter-GCC railway network will be a significant development, bringing enhanced freight and passenger access to the entire region. The government’s strategy is to provide a solid platform for economic diversification. Infrastructure upgrades will create a positive cycle of improved connectivity and transport linkages, which in turn will make Oman more attractive to business and foreign investment. The positive spin-offs that investment in infrastructure will bring to the Sultanate’s diversification drive are clear. The expansion of the airport and passenger handling capacity, for example, will support growth plans for Oman’s travel and tourism industry, which Vision 2020 forecasts will contribute 6 per cent of the country’s total GDP by 2021. Additionally, although specific details have not yet been announced, Oman intends to build or expand six airports, including Salalah airport. To further facilitate the growth of tourism, the government has already approved the spending of around $8bn on tourism-related property developments across the country, with the aim to attract around 12 million visitors a year by 2020. With regard to overland transport, Oman’s challenging topography has traditionally posed difficulties with the development of transport links in

Oman’s interior, yet the increase in funding, together with technological improvements mean that long-awaited projects can at last go ahead. Indeed, the idea of a GCC-wide railway has been talked about since 1981, but the region is closer than ever to achieving this. According to the Ministry of Transport and Communications, when operational the Oman-GCC railway will be 2000 km long (with 1000 km of track in Oman), running from Kuwait’s border with Iraq, down to Salalah in the southern tip of Oman. The expected total cost of the regional project is estimated at $25bn. This will allow Oman to tap into regional trade (and vice-versa), stimulating commerce by facilitating the movement of goods. The Port of Salalah, for example, is strategically located on the major shipping lanes between Europe and East Asia, and greater access by rail will increase its competitiveness with other Gulf ports. Given that the difference between docking at Salalah and Dubai is three days’ journey, Salalah has a

The current FiveYear Plan sets aside around $20bn for transport infrastructure projects up to 2015. This includes a new terminal at Muscat International Airport, which will be completed by 2014, with the capacity to handle 12mn passengers annually

huge amount to gain from enhanced rail linkages. The projects are bold and ambitious, but the Omani government is in no way passive or complacent about drawing in foreign developers; rather, with construction projects picking up momentum, Oman is actively courting international participation. In April, Malaysia’s minister for International Trade and Industry was welcomed to Oman as part of a broader invitation to Malaysian companies to take part in infrastructure deals in the Sultanate. Although to date no Malaysian firms have ventured into Oman, companies are now showing interest in the Sultanate’s construction, retail and IT sectors, as well as the halal meat segment. Furthermore, October will see Oman host an international exhibition for infrastructure and industrial projects – “InfraOman” – for the second time. Last year’s InfraOman expo, the first of its kind to be held in Oman and the GCC region, was attended by a host of international firms, generating a great deal of interest in Omani construction projects spread across a range of sectors, including power, water and renewable energy technology. Whereas last year the attention was mainly on heavy industry and equipment, InfraOman 2012 will also have a special focus on affordable housing, interior design and building materials, areas which the Sultanate wants to focus on in order to improve housing availability and quality. Taking into account Oman’s geographical advantages, and renewed spending drive on transport connectivity and network upgrades, infrastructure investments in the Sultanate are set to become increasingly attractive to foreign investors. Oman’s huge potential as a gateway to the region is set to become a reality. 


CASESTUDY

Change the game

An innovative marketing approach, state-of-the-art products and right pricing have enabled Samsung to emerge as a market leader across segments. Mayank Singh and Visvas Paul D Karra report

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jay Ganti, CEO, SARCO has a problem on his hands. Surprisingly, while he is working overtime to resolve the issue he also seems to be quite pleased with the situation. As we settle down for the interview, Ganti shares his predicament – the response to the recently launched Samsung Galaxy S III mobile phone has been so overwhelming that the distributor is running out of stocks to satisfy the market’s insatiable demand. So while he requests Samsung to ship additional supplies, he is rationing the available stocks amongst retailers and corporate clients. This is not the first time that SARCO, the official distributor of Samsung audio visual, mobile phones and home appliance products in the Sultanate

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has stuck with a problem of plenty. The company has been on a roll for the last four-five years and the numbers speak for themselves. Samsung is arguably the market leader in televisions, home appliances and mobile phones. It enjoys 38 per cent marketshare in televisions, 40 per cent in smart phones, 30 per cent in mobile phones market and above 40 per cent share in certain home appliance categories. SARCO is also a franchisee of other leading brands like Citizen, Casio, American Breeze, Q&Q and Severin. The company’s success has not gone unnoticed. Microsoft announced a distribution pact covering its Original Equipment Manufacturer (OEM) and commercial business for Oman with SARCO in May 2012. Under the terms

of this partnership, SARCO will be responsible for steering the reseller business, increasing Microsoft OEM product revenue and supporting the development of the local channel.

The turnaround SARCO’s success though has not been achieved by sudden flight. When Ganti joined the company in 2006, Samsung was not even amongst the top five brands in either the audio visual (AV) or home appliances (HA) categories. The brief given to him was simple – reinvigorate the company. Amongst the first decisions that Ganti took was to get out of the furniture business, as he did not see it synergise with AV and HA business. Says Ganti, “Office furniture used to share showroom space with AV and HA products. We had good


products and LCDs were catching up and as Samsung was the world leader in LCDs we could see the potential in the market.”

SAMSUNG – MARKETSHARE Televisions: 38%

big breakthrough came in 2008 when it got a bulk order for supplying 1000 window ACs, and since then there has been no looking back.

Smart phones: 40% Then SARCO used to grow at a leisurely rate of 5-10 per cent per annum; but in an effort to scale up the business, Ganti set a 50 per cent growth target in the very first year. While this came as a shock to most of his colleagues, they gradually started to believ in his vision. “It was important to scale up the topline, as one can always manage the bottomline with better efficiencies.” To back this vision and to increase visibility SARCO allocated an aggressive advertising budget in 2007. The company took up an annual advertising contract with leading publications like Oman Economic Review, Times of Oman and Thursday magazines for the whole year. The other priority was to strengthen its distribution channels. Though Samsung was retailing at stores like LuLu, Carrefour and other outlets, there was a feeling that big format retailers were doing Samsung a favour by displaying its wares. “We convinced our retailers that we will add value and increase the overall size of the market,” says Ganti. The company did a market mapping to figure out prime and peripheral areas, its strengths and the scope of growth. “It was all about getting the four P’s -- price, product, promotion, and place right.”

Bulls eye The 32 inch LCD TV was identified as a flagship product and the company worked on a calibrated strategy to increase its visibility and presence. In LuLu, SARCO identified unused areas like aisles and convinced the retailer to lease them out to it for product display. “The aisles were active areas and when people walked through them they noticed our products, and these unused areas in turn became a source of rent for LuLu.” The company also used the Samsung branding on the stairs between the two escalators connecting the ground and first floors at LuLu. In another significant move, it started

Mobile phones: 30% Home appliances: over 40%

using a cluster display for Samsung products as it helped customers to make an informed choice. In addition the company wanted its products to be displayed at the eye level. This was a mould breaker as TVs used to be sold stacked on shelves from the ground to the ceiling. Says Ganti, “As most people use their TVs at the eye level, it helps customers to get a more realistic feel about how the product would look at home.” SARCO employed dedicated sales staff on the shop floor who gave an informed demonstration of the product. The stress was on highlighting the strengths of Samsung products while not de-selling other brands. In 2006, AV products in Oman were priced at around 10 per cent higher than the regional market (to compensate for lower volumes). SARCO did away with this disparity by pricing its products at the same level as the other markets. Thus customers got to buy products at never before prices. The efforts paid off in a big way. “From 2008 onwards we became the No 1 in the LCD market and our share has never dropped below 50 per cent. Though our competitors have become aggressive in the last two years, our value share of the market has actually gone up,” says Ganti.

Gap analysis The company identified gaps in various other product categories to consolidate its presence. For example, in the HA market, SARCO realised that it was weak in the air conditioners, which accounted for 50 per cent of the HA market. It’s Korean rival LG accounted for almost 50 per cent of the market. SARCO started consolidating its presence in the B2B market by tying up with contractors. A

In a price sensitive category like refrigerators, where a five to ten rial difference could sway a customer, SARCO found that most of the competition was in the 300 litre segment and it started focussing on the 200-300 litre segment. Secondly, while its competitors were focussed on Carrefour, Samsung started concentrating on LuLu, KM Trading and Safeer hypermarket to diversify its presence. Similarly, in the mobile phone market, which was dominated by Nokia owing to its low-value products (with an average sale price of $50), Samsung started focusing on the mid to the smart phone end of the business, which was priced at RO40 ($100) and above. It also took up exclusive mobile kiosks at LuLu and the phones were priced at as close to the grey market as possible. The company today has 25 standalone mobile kiosks and is planning to increase this to 50 by the end of this year. The company has invested RO100,000 in a 1,100 square metre state-of-theart service centre in Ghala. SARCO has opened a service centre in Sohar and its facility in Salalah is being upgraded. All Samsung products come with a five-year warranty and the company is working on providing the best in class after sales service. The company has also invested in training and developing its Omani workforce over the last two years. Says Ganti, “We have more Omanis than expatriates in our sales force.” SARCO has also rode the wave of Samsung’s global success. Moving ahead the company wants to strengthen its retail presence across the country, decrease its volume dependence, enhance its value share of the market and be a one stop shop for consumer needs in the AV and HA business. If the past success of SARCO is anything to go by, one can rest assured that it will surely deliver on this promise. 


OMAN GREEN AWARS

Creating a green umbrella The third edition of Oman Green Awards honoured outstanding environmental vision, endeavours and achievements of corporates and individuals

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man Green Awards (OGA) 2012 has once again proved that creating a green economy is the need of the hour as environmental issues and economic development increasingly intersect and complement each other. Nineteen finalists, including two joint winners, won awards in nine different categories of OGA at a function held at Al Bustan Palace Ritz Carlton Hotel, under the auspices of HE Mohammed Said Al Toobi, Minister of Environment and Climate Affairs. In a specially created perfect green ambience at the Majan Ballroom, a discerning audience of more than 200 guests, comprising top representatives of Oman’s corporate houses, schools and other nongovernmental institutions, applauded in acknowledgement of the fact that OGA is a ideal green platform to stir up people’s interest and awaken positive

activism for environmental goals and greater action in the long term, both at community and decision-making levels. Coinciding with the World Environment Day on June 5, OGA has been conceptualised by OER and United Media Services (UMS) and is being held in association with the Ministry of Environment and Climate Affairs, Muscat Municipality and the Ministry of Health.

The event received massive support from corporate houses and individuals who have made green mission a priority. Oman Oil Marketing Company, Octal and Muriya Tourism joined as Green Oman partners to keep the green torch burning bright in the country. The media partners of the event were Times of Oman and Al Shabiba while the support partners were Sadolin, Green Cover, Infoline and Oman Printers and Stationers.

In her welcome address, Alpana Roy, executive vice president, UMS said that Oman Green Awards, over the past three years, had recognised exemplary efforts made by companies and individuals in promoting environment preservation and sustainable development in the Sultanate. “OGA has raised awareness about going green and the necessity of saving the natural beauty of this pristine country,” she added.

As part of the function, young Omani scientist Mustafa Barami gave a presentation of his path-breaking invention which can recycle a kilo of palm leaves into 80 sheets of A4sized paper. His invention showcases how innovation and environment conservation can go hand-in-hand, by making use of the cellulose found in the palm leaves which would otherwise be burned as waste by date-palm farmers.

THE TH E LI L ST OF WINN NNER ERS ER S IN N EAC A H CA CATE TEGO TE GORY GO RY Green Campaign Of The Year Winner: Caledonian College Of Engineering Special Commendation: Radisson Blu Hotel Muscat Green Champion Award Winner: Graduates from SQU Special Commendation: Architectural Wall Systems Green Education Award Winner: British School Muscat Special Commendation: Indian School Muscat

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Green Footprint Award Winner: OCTAL Special Commendation: Al Hassan Group of Companies

The Green Innovation Award Joint-winners: Petroleum Development Oman & Bauer Nimr Special Commendation: Berger Paints

Green Guardian Award Winner: Information Technology Authority Special Commendation: Oman Drydock Company

Green Landscape Award Winner: Green Cover Special Commendation: Muscat Hills Golf Course

The Green Habitat Award Winner: Port of Salalah Special Commendation: W S Atkins

Green Research Award Winner: Sultan Qaboos University (Jatropha Plant) Special Commendation: Ray International


GREEN CAMPAIGN AWARD

Towards cultivating green consciousness Caledonian College of Engineering won the Green Campaign Award for various outstanding initiatives in 2012 to generate green awareness

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s part of its Green Campaign 2012, Caledonian College of Engineering has undertaken various initiatives for environmental protection and awareness such as organising International Workshop on Waste to Energy (IWWE) at the campus, initiating several research projects and publications by staff and students on renewable energy applications, tree plantation within campus, and implementing PV based solar power generation within campus. The IWWE, hosted by the college at its Al Hail campus on March 12 and 13, 2012, explored issues concerning solid waste management, waste treatment, waste disposal and the future of anaerobic digestion. The workshop was facilitated by seven keynote speakers of international standing, who delivered keynote speeches to an audience of guests, local experts, engineering faculty from a number of key institutions

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hink Planet’ launched by Radisson Blue Hotel in January 2012 is an ambitious energy saving programme aimed at reducing energy consumption by 25 per cent over the next five years. The hotel reads consumption metre on a daily basis to record and monitor the consumption and prepares monthly reports; and sets a benchmark by a third party to measure the consumption. The hotel has installed energy saving bulbs, temperature control systems and magnetic switches in all its rooms and corridors and as part of its water saving programmes, the re-use of towels and linen is suggested in every room to every guest. All televisions in the rooms are equipped with infra-red sensors which would automatically switch off the TV if the room is not in use and all its windows are double glazed to reduce the loss of temperature. All the flush tanks in bathrooms are eco-friendly, using only 7 litres of water per flush.

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in Oman and CCE’s own staff and students. Furthermore, 13 technical papers were presented over the course of the two days, allowing for discussion of the research findings in the area related to sustainable solid waste management, waste management policies and strategies, advanced waste treatment technologies and waste disposal, together with advances in waste-to-energy initiatives. The workshop was attended by more than 150 delegates from industries, government organisation and educational institutions. In addition, the college is the leading sponsor of Zeena Al Towayya, the first Omani woman to set foot on Antarctica as part of the International Antarctic Expedition (IAE) 2041. A Caledonian Honours graduate in Computer Engineering in 2008, Al Towayya was selected to be part of the expedition team.

Think and act green The special commendation in Green Campaign Award went to Radisson Blue Hotel Muscat which embarked on an ambitious programme seeking to reduce energy consumption by 25 per cent over the next five years ‘Think Planet’ is more than just an energy cost-cutting exercise. It is about contributing to a sustainable society. As part of its plan to cut energy consumption five per cent in 2012, the hotel has prepared an Energy Action Plan pack which serves as a toolbox to achieve the 2012 target and even go beyond. The Energy Action Plan is the guideline for the general manager, chief engineer and heads of department to achieve the 2012 target of five per cent energy saving. The document describes: Think Planet habits- a wide range of good operational and maintenance practices; Think Planet tools-energy saving tools with a return on investment (ROI) of maximum two years. Considering training the staff on smart Think Planet habits a key part of reducing energy consumption in the hotel, he hotel created three training movies under the motto ‘a picture says more than a 1000 words’.


GREEN CHAMPION AWARD

Conserving soil A group of graduates from Sultan Qaboos University won the Green Champion Award for their documentary movie portraying the importance of soil conservation

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he soil that we use is integral to our livelihood. More and more people are beginning to use eco-friendly products and live an environmentally conscious life, however only a few realise that the protection and conservation of soil is equally important. While many people invest valuable time and effort in keeping the air and water clean, widespread awareness of soil conservation is still lacking. An innovative stride towards bridging this gap was taken by a group of fresh graduates from Sultan Qaboos University (SQU) who did a documentary movie portraying the importance of soil conservation. Jointly directed by Abdullah Al-Rawahi, Mousa Al-Subeihi, Suleiman Al-Sumri and Marwa Al-Siyabi, the documentary seeks to educate society and students to conserve soil and explore how to test the quality of soil in fields and laboratories. Soil conservation comprises all the procedures and methods that involve protecting the soil from natural as well as manmade destructions. There are many natural ways in which soil could get eroded or blown away. In the same

Sustainable architecture Architectural Wall Systems which introduced sustainable and environmentally friendly architectural systems secured the special commendation in Green Champion Award

way, soil could also get contaminated or chemically altered owing to acidification or salinisation, or destruction from machinery. Soil conservation is as important as any other form of conservation that attempts to safeguard the environment and improve the quality of life of all living beings. The documentary was selected as an outstanding project by Soils, Water and Agriculture Engineering Department at SQU in 2011 and bagged the students creativity award in the University. These youngsters are looking to show the documentary on National Geographic, BBC, Al Jazeera and other channels.

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rchitectural Wall Systems has pioneered various architectural, engineering, product and educational green initiatives in the Sultanate. During the last three years, the company has tried to ensure an element of green in every one of its projects either through materials specified, systems adopted or technology used. It could also create an awareness of green products that can be utilisd in various construction projects in the Sultanate. Architectural Wall Systems has customised its services and products to suit the climatic condition and market demand of the Sultanate and rationalised the information available to convey an adaptable message to public for promoting green concept in Oman. It could also simplify the green process to suit clients’ budget and spatial requirements. The company received positive feedback and enquiries about the process involved. This feedback has strengthened its conviction that there is some impact on the society and a small niche has been established for green initiatives. The positive feedback from the clients to its architectural & engineering green initiatives, consumer response to its green product initiatives and public response to its green education and green campaigning initiatives testify to the success and acceptability of the system. Some of the projects where the system was successfully applied include Caledonian College of Engineering‘s Campus III at Airport Heights in Bausher, Campus I & II at Al Hail, Moosa Abdul Rahman Hassan Company’s office and service centre in Ghubra etc.


GREEN EDUCATION AWARD

Sustainable curriculum British School Muscat, the winner of Green Education Award, has integrated sustainability in the curriculum of all students from Nursery to Year 13

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ritish School Muscat (BSM) has conducted a primary geography conference on sustainability to raise the importance of sustainability within primary schools and to offer case studies, ideas and practical activities, which can be used in schools. Held at the school on February 23 and 24, 2012, the conference was attended by 40 delegates, which included teachers from international schools across Oman, primary and senior school students from BSM, representatives from various organisations. In addition, the school has been working with Environment Society of Oman (ESO) to bring Foundation for Environmental Education (FFE) accreditation to Oman, in order that schools can apply to become Green Flag Schools. A network of teachers, with an interest in sustainability, has been set up by the school with the aim to cascade information and develop projects to include as many

Catching them young A slew of measures to raise the green consciousness of the students enabled Indian School Muscat’s Eco Club to walk away with special commendation in Green Education Award

schools and students as possible in the future. The school has active environmental teams which run from Year 1 to Year 6: Green Team, Recycling Team and Eco Warriors. The Primary Green Team comprises two children from each class from Year 1 to Year 6. Eco – Warriors is an after school activity. A team of children from Years 3 to 6 meet once a week. Their projects have included planting vegetables; visiting the Oman Botanic Gardens to learn about native species and following this up by planning 15 desert roses and placing them around the school; creating a pot pond and bird bath with the help of Anne Love – author of Gardening in Oman and the UAE; looking at bird life in the school environment etc.

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oung students are the pillars for the future and therefore teaching them about sustainability and conservation and making them actively involved in green initiatives will be quite effective in the long run. Indian School Muscat’s Eco Club strives to inculcate strong environmental values among the students through various green initiatives in and around the campus. The school has incorporated environmental education into the curriculum and provides a vast array of knowledge about conservation and energy consumption to the students during the health/ education periods. By placing the responsibility on the students, the school enables them to come out with innovative, original ideas, and eco-friendly methods. The club actively engages the students in a number of awareness generation activities on environment, energy, climate change, education and communication. It encourages the students to transform thoughts into action by participating in environmental friendly activities in the school, and organise competitions to extract creative ideas from young minds. Students actively take part in making their immediate surroundings clean, green and healthy and they also motivate their friends and family to do the same. Club members have secured the support of the administration and implemented eco-friendly ideas not only in the classrooms but also in the rooms of the principal, vice principal and other faculties by maintaining indoor plants and displaying eco-friendly tips on the display boards .

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GREEN FOOTPRINT AWARD

Offsetting carbon footprint OCTAL, the winner of Green Footprint Award, has demonstrated its technical leadership and steadfast commitment to reducing environmental impact and carbon footprint since its inception

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CTAL has successfully eliminated five energy-intensive stages of the conventional PET sheet production process, reducing 67 per cent of energy consumption. With the entire energy requirements derived from clean combustion natural gas, the specially adapted burners consume up to 20 per cent less gas. As a result, the company’s PET sheet, DPET™, boasts a 25 per cent lower carbon footprint than conventional APET.

which translates to flying a full plane of 320 passengers around the world approximately 39 times, was reduced.

In a recent study of the annual energy consumption using MTR technology, it has been verified that OCTAL consumes 63.3 per cent less grid electricity and 22.7 per cent less heat energy for the production of PET resin when compared to conventional bottle grade resin. A total of 51.08 million kg of CO2 equivalent,

Hundred per cent of the water used by OCTAL is derived from urban waste water and 80 per cent of the production water is recovered and recycled in the manufacturing system or used to irrigate the green belt of predominately native plants around the facility.

A concerted effort

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Al Hassan Group of Companies which won the special commendation in Green Footprint Award effectively implemented the principles of ‘Reduce, Reuse and Recycle’ in its daily business processes

Additionally, due to the extreme precision and consistency of the OCTAL’s DPET sheet, OCTAL’s customers that shape and mould DPET into packaging products can use up to 6 to 12 per cent less material by weight than competing products, leading to further reductions across the production chain.

l Hassan Group of Companies was able not only to improve the surrounding environment but also to simultaneously streamline the company’s business processes and translate them into significant savings. To implement the green initiatives, a special energy conservation group was formed by volunteers from various group companies and project sites consisting of top, middle and junior management which met on a regular basis every two months. All 5000 employees of Al Hassan Group are involved in the Safety week celebration from February 25 to 29, 2012 which included energy, water and environment conservation initiatives. By creating awareness across various departments, the group was able to achieve reduction in electricity charges, savings in water bills and fleet fuel charges as well as vehicle repair and maintenance charges. The landmark achievement is the reduction in carbon footprint to the tune of 2555 metric tonnes on an annual basis. As part of its tree plantation efforts, more than 3200 plants/trees are being nourished for plantation at A’Seeb STP project to give an environment friendly sewage treatment plant. Some of the carbon footprint and carbon emissions reducing steps included pumping of water instead of trucking through water tanks. This reduced carbon footprint by 752 metric tonnes. A reduction in carbon emission was seen owing to virtualisation initiative taken by Data Centre which is equivalent to planting of 197 trees.


GREEN GUARDIAN AWARD

Green IT strategy Information Technology Authority has won the Green Guardian Award for its Green Initiative under the vision of responsible computing towards a sustainable environment

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he Green Initiative of the Information Technology Authority aims to promote Green IT by adopting industry’s best practices to create a sustainable green IT ecosystem within the government and the community. This will help to decrease pollution, encourage recycling and build an environmentally friendly computing society and working space. A green IT strategic plan was established to identify and stamp ITA’s projects ‘Green’ after evaluating their green practices and recognising them in public. Two projects were certified Green2012 during Comex 2012. The organisation also procured environmentally safe products and equipment like energysaving devices and also encouraged recycling and adoption of responsible IT practices which used less paper. Some of the initiatives were exchange of electronic documents instead of printed copies and raising employee requests to Admin and

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man Drydock Company (ODC) is the first ship repair yard in Oman and has a large number of ships docking for repairs in which a number of toxic chemicals are used and left as waste. Through the environmental facilities, the main goal of the establishment of these facilities was to treat the waste resulted from the company’s activities in a way by which the harm to environment is eliminated or reduced to its minimum. For example, NIX is a form of copper slag used extensively to remove the old paint and rust from the hull of the ships during the repairs. During this time, large amounts of waste NIX is generated and this requires exceptional

Human Resource office and settling them electronically. ITA was able to incorporate best practices of Green IT industry into the health, safety and environment policy of the ITA and closely monitors its implementation. The organisation encouraged the use of environmentally safe products and equipment like energy-saving devices and eco-friendly products and lighting and replaced plastic disposables with eco-friendly items. ITA was able to recycle 400 kgs of waste paper. Other bests practices included procuring energy-efficient products; creating awareness and motivating clients to implement ‘virtualisation’ techniques to optimise the use of server resources and energymanagement system for the ITA Data Centre operations..

Warding off eco hazards Oman Drydock Company (ODC), winner of the special commendation in Green Guardian Award, established unique environmental facilities like NIX recycling plant, an incinerator and slop and sludge facility treatment and disposal methods to prevent any harm to the environment. By installing the NIX recycling plant, incinerator and slop and sludge facility, the NIX is reused. Also, the oil treated from the slop and sludge facility is reused. While in terms of the incinerator, the garbage which might end up in the landfill is combusted and the heat generated is reutilised. The success could be easily measured by the reduction of the waste which could end up totally stored (or disposed of, depending on the waste properties) without treatment. In terms of NIX recycling plant, the treated amount of NIX is reused. Also, the oil treated from the slop and sludge facility is reused. While in terms of the incinerator, the garbage which might end up in the landfill is combusted and the heat generated is utilised.

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GREEN HABITAT AWARD

Saving ecosystem The Marine Emergency Response Services of the Port of Salalah, which walked away with the Green Habitat Award, has been doing the important job of regulating leaking containers and dangerous cargo that have harmful consequence on the immediate ecosystems, sea, land and air

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he Port of Salalah, which was among the winners of Oman Green Awards in 2011 for its initiative to switch off machinery during breaks, has once again come up with another innovative measure to prevent environmental catastrophes during port operations. Known as the Marine Emergency Response Services, this initiative is meant to regulate leaking containers and dangerous cargo that have harmful consequence on the immediate ecosystems which include sea, land and air. The goal of Marine Emergency Response Services is to protect land, sea and air ecosystems at the port and quicken the response procedure for hazardous material spills and leaks from the large vessels that dock at the Port of Salalah. This initiative has come about in reaction to an incident which happened in January 2010 and served as a

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real wake-up call to the employees and customers of the Port of Salalah. On that day, 22 tonnes of fuel leaked from a ship, onto the sideway of a busy terminal berth and consequently into the sea. Consequently, it resulted in a five-month cleanup of the sea and sideways. One of the major action taken by the Marine Emergency Response Services was the construction of a tank large enough to transport a 20-foot container if it leaks with hazardous material. The tank was 100 per cent designed and built at Port of Salalah by the port’s engineers and safety specialists to handle dangerous material. The port also successfully achieved in 2011 a “no spills and no damage” year thanks to improvements in the reporting and response time required to safely handle dangerous cargo.

ith a unique project titled RACE, an acronym for Raising Awareness Cutting Energy, the Oman office of W S Atkins has demonstrated that awareness can be raised in any office environment.

Committed to energy conservation

The idea was to encourage Atkins staff to be conscious of the amount of energy they are using and reduce it wherever possible, helping to ensure they maintained their competitive edge in the new low-carbon economy. The programme provided the ‘how’ to both senior management and employees to bring about a behavioural change in themselves. W S Atkin’s office located in Hatat house block B second floor joined the global Atkins competition to reduce power consumption by a simple method of pasting RACE stickers –

W S Atkins won the special commendation in Green Habitat Award for its innovative methods and strategies to bring about a behavioural changes among the employees Save energy: Switch of lights – in all relevant places. Because this was a competition, all users were actively involved in reducing energy consumption. And last year the Oman office won a gold medal. The company employees were able to come up with innovative methods and strategies used to implement the Raising Awareness Cutting Energy process. Employees also saw the importance of turning the computer monitors off during lunch break and at the end of the day while also learning the need to unplug mobile phone/laptop chargers when not in use. Another significant achievement was that by turning the airconditioning control up by 1° C and increasing room temperature by 1°C, the organisation could reduce power bills by up to 10 per cent.


GREEN INNOVATION AWARD

A novel solution Petroleum Development Oman and BAUER Nimr were the joint winners of Green Innovation Award for the Nimr Water Treatment plant

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DO’s Nimr Water treatment plant is a sustainable project providing an environmentally friendly, energy-efficient and innovative solution to the produced water disposal challenge facing the oil industry. The use of reed beds in a harsh desert environment has proved to be ground-breaking. Several years of pilot trials were needed before the project could finally come on stream. The plantation concept has specially adapted waterlogged plants with the ability to use atmospheric oxygen in order to create both aerobic and anaerobic conditions in their roots. The source of food for these waterlogged plants is normally pollutants which include a wide range of organic compounds like hydrocarbons through a process of bio-degradation and filtration.

Produced water from the NIMR Production Station (NRPS) with an average salinity of about 5,000 parts per million (ppm) and average oil of 150 ppm in water is treated and the resulting

A technology export Berger Paints which developed the first low VOC lead free paint walked away with special commendation in Green Innovation Award

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erger Paints Oman set its sights on using in-house technology to develop a true next generation Ecofriendly paint for the Omani market, thereby creating awareness about eco-friendly paints in Oman. The objectives was to develop a product by removing volatile organic compounds, hazardous air pollutants, alkylphenyl ethoxylates(APEO)as per GS 11 and to make it LEED-

effluent water concentration at the evaporation pond is less than two ppm oil in water and about 15,000–20,000 ppm salt concentration. The planting of reeds has turned green a desert area of 2.4 million m2. This visible example can inspire local, regional and international players to adopt or refine similar solutions to their own water challenges. The initiative has also promoted additional research to see how the reeds can be used for biofuel and additional water treatment for irrigation purposes. PDO is supporting a joint team of Omani and Dutch scholars from Sultan Qaboos University and Utrecht Universities who are currently studying technologies to distil the saline water for greenhouse irrigation use.

compliant. The paint needed to be free from genetic poison and heavy metals like chromium, arsenic, lead, mercury. Finally, the R&D department had to remove crystalline silica from the paint, as the long term exposure to silica increases chances of silicosis. The product named Royale Matt Emulsion, which was developed over a three year period was successfully launched last year and has captured almost 15 per cent marketshare. It has got an external VOC compliance certification and the audit of suppliers has proven that the formulation is compliant with stated development goals. The product has been adopted by sister units in other countries all over the MENA region and Berger Paints-Oman created a technology export from Oman. Construction firms looking for LEED-compliant products in Oman can now rely on a local supplier with the technology to provide them with cost-effective solutions. The paint will lead to a reduction in health and environmental pollutants within the construction sector in Oman. Royale Matt Emulsion has generated a self sustaining trend towards eco-friendly paints in Oman. Today, almost all players are looking for similar products by either using imported technology or home-grown solutions. As a follow up, Berger Paints is itself reformulating the entire architectural range along these lines. The company is also planning a much larger R&D centre in its upcoming plant in Sohar.

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GREEN LANDSCAPE AWARD

Play on Green Cover which won the Green Landscape Award has brought natural infill football courses to Oman

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reen Cover has fixed a FIFA standard football course with artificial grass and natural infill at the Al Mazra Sports Club in Barka. The eco-friendly field is made up using 100 per cent natural organic material instead of using chemical infill. The company used FIFA approved technology and eco friendly materials for laying the course. Natural infill has been recommended by FIFA as a standard court material. The natural infill is environmentally friendly and scores over other infills such as recycled black tyre materials. The advantage of natural infill is that there are no gas emissions and it does not have the smell of tires which comes from chemical infill. It reduces surface temperature by 25 per cent and is recyclable. Such courses are lead-free and are made up of non-hazardous material. They are also less abrasive and this reduces the chances of injury to players. Courses dilled with natural infills drain quickly and are highly permeable. They resist heat absorption but retain humidity,

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manâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s first 18-hole Green Golf course strives to reduce the consumption of energy by using alternative sources of energy like solar lights and using electricity to run its golf carts. The watering of the course is done only with desalinated and sewage water. The course is planning to start drilling a new well to find natural water. A key objective of Muscat Golf Course is to work closely with experts who advise it on environment impact and to find a balance to preserve course conditioning throughout the year. The course is constantly devising new methods and practices to meet

enabling the field to stay cooler, reducing surface temperature compared to other infills, allowing maximum athletic performance with superior player stability. Courses filled with natural infills are sustainable over a long period as they have an overall life span of 15 to 20 years. The company provides a full warranty for this period ensuring good maintenance.

Constant innovation Commitment to conservation enabled Muscat Golf Course Project to win special commendation in Green Landscape Award the harsh dry conditions especially through the hot summer months without affecting the surrounding natural topography of the golf course. The success of the first green golf course in Oman is inspiring other companies to build green golf courses. Muscat Hills is a unique integrated resort, comprising an 18-hole PGA-certified green golf course and a high quality residential development on the outskirts of Muscat. The course strives to develop the game of golf in the Sultanate and the youth of tomorrow through junior programmes. The second phase of the project is expected to begin in 2012. This will include the construction of a five-star hotel managed by the InterContinental Group of Hotels, a permanent clubhouse and new onsite properties. The second phase is expected to be completed in about two yearsâ&#x20AC;&#x2122; time. Muscat Hills Golf and Country Club currently has 240 members. The 215 residential units have been sold out and Muscat Hills has emerged as a preferred place to live.


GREEN RESEARCH AWARD

A productive solution Sultan Qaboos University’s Jatropha Plant, winner of Green Research Award, can produce bio fuels and revive the agricultural prospects of unproductive areas

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s a part of the research, a rocky and saline wasteland was selected and Jatropha plants were planted and irrigated with saline and treated wastewater. The quality of soil improved as a result of the experiment and the land could be used for the same or other crops. The main objective of the whole project was to improve the productivity of waste lands (unsuitable for agriculture) and to maximise the usage of treated wastewater. Apart from this the effort was to grow economical (bio-fuel) plants, reduce the usage of chemical fertilisers and to improve soil quality by using natural resources. The project was also a preliminary research to assess the possibilities of Jatropha as a provider of bio-fuel. This technique offers numerous advantages like turning barren soils into green lands. As the Jatropha plant is not eaten by animals, it can work as a good fence for protecting domestic plants. Farmers can harvest the seed of the plant

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ay International’s oil sludge treatment plant at Qarn Alam processes a hazardous waste known as oil sludge. Oil sludge is a by-product of the petroleum industry that is continuously generated during operations, causing environmental problems. The project effectively treats the sludge contained in the pits of Petroleum Development Oman (PDO). The company has cleaned more than 20,000 barrels of sludge. It has also recovered oil and cleaned the soil and water by using a new technology.

and get bio-fuel from it. The husk of the seeds can be used as a fertiliser for edible crops and the plant absorbs high amounts of carbon dioxide helping the environment. In the long run rapidly disappearing saline lands with almost seawater quality irrigation water can be revived by using this research. Apart from this, changed land use that is resulting in the appearance of residential and commercial buildings on the agricultural lands can be stopped. Thus, a great loss to the natural land resources of the country can be at least be minimised if not stopped totally. These lands can be brought under agriculture again but with newly changed economically attractive plants. As a result farmers/owners of such lands can be re-employed on their original lands once again. Since this plant can be grown in Omani conditions, it can also be grown in other Gulf countries.

Profiting from waste RAY International won special commendation in Green Research Awards for introducing the first of its kind technology to trun waste into harmless by-product The aim of the oil sludge treatment initiative is to treat hazardous waste and change it into a harmless by-products. The company’s goal is to process all the eight sludge pits in the hazardous waste area of Qarn Alam (more than 80,000 barrels of hazardous waste). This is a new technology that has been successfully implemented commercially only in the Sultanate. The initiative has received the Governor’s Award for 2011 project of the year (third place) and has proven to remove a great environmental liability for the operator. This is the first time that a project like this has been implemented around the world. Ray International has recovered valuable crude oil for PDO and returned clean water and sand to the environment. Emboldened by this success the project is now being implemented in other collection sites of PDO like Mukhaizna and Fahoud. It has also been presented to other companies like OXY and Daleel for their respective sites.

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AUTOTALK

A Future

CLASSIC T

he 2012 Chrysler 200 stands a class apart. With a sophisticated design, high-quality craftsmanship, and technology that keeps passengers entertained and connected, it is an exciting alternative for customers that want style and substance, all at a surprising value.

The sedan is offered with the proven 2.4-litre world gas engine mated to a six-speed automatic transmission for an exceptionally fun and fuel-efficient driving experience. The 2.4-litre I-4 engine produces 173 horsepower (129 kW) and 166 lb.-ft. (225 N-m) of torque and has an EPA estimated fuel economy rating of 20 mpg city and 31 mpg highway. The available 3.6-litre Pentastar V6 engine, one of Ward’s “10 best engines”, provides an even more exhilarating driving experience that offers customers the best of both worlds - exceptional V6 horsepower and fuel economy. The new 3.6-litre Pentastar V6 engine is mated to the 62TE six-speed automatic transmission and produces 283 horsepower (211 kW) and 260 lb-ft

(353 N-m) of torque. The result? A smooth and effortless drive. You’ll have to drive it to believe it. The car’s exterior design highlights a sculpted front fascia, clean surfaces and sleek lines. Distinctive features like the Chrysler brand grille with the signature Chrysler winged badge, LED accent light pipe above the headlamps, projector fog lamps and LED tail lamps round out the vehicle resulting in a design that’s elegant and refined. The interior design is sleek and sophisticated and the overall look is quite upscale. Comfortable seating, “soft touch” armrests and instrument panel and premium interior finishes for touch points are not only pleasing to the touch, but also to the eye and a closer look reveals some pretty impressive options. Expect to enjoy a quieter ride thanks to the acousticlaminated windshield and front-door glass and sound absorbing treatments throughout the cabin and instrument panel which provide sound dampening

and reduced noise and vibration levels. An eight-way power driver’s seat allows tailored positioning and further raises the comfort and convenience amenities. UConnect is the in-car infotainment setup that helps you manage all your media with multiple ways to access audio and responsibly answer calls while on the move. The Voice Command feature, now a standard in most car models, simplifies driving by letting you keep your eyes on the road and your hands on the wheel. When you drive the Chrysler 200, you not only drive in style but also in a cocoon of safety. The safety systems are next to none, guaranteeing one of the safest driving experiences. Dual front, side and curtain airbags are standard on all 2012 Chrysler 200 models, as are anti-lock brakes, traction and stability control, and active headrests. At the end of the day the Chrysler 200 is a better-realised car and a good match for a style-conscious, comfort-oriented buyer. 

The manufacturers have pulled all the stops with the 2012 Chrysler 200 Sedan. Built for speed as well as comfort, it has managed to build the bridge across functionality and style, writes Sushmita Sarkhel from Dubai 56

July 2012


AUTO NEWS

JAGUAR TOPS IN JD POWER SURVEY Jaguar has been announced as the number one manufacturer in the JD Power and Associates/ What Car? 2012 UK Vehicle Ownership Satisfaction Study (VOSS). The study was based

on the evaluations of nearly 18,000 individuals in the United Kingdom after an average of two years ownership. Every aspect of vehicle ownership was rated from performance, design and comfort to quality, reliability, cost of ownership, economy and dealer service satisfaction. The resulting data allowed the study to be the most comprehensive of its kind. When split into model line-ups, the Jaguar XF finished second overall, a rise of 15 places within just 12-months. The 2012 result marks the culmination of a steady rise in owner satisfaction, Jaguar having finished third in the 2011 survey.

BMW DEBUTS FOUR-DOOR COUPÉ

The customer launch of the all-new BMW 6 Series Gran Coupé – the first four-door Coupé in the history of the BMW brand – took place at the Grand Hyatt Hotel in Muscat. Over 130 VIP customers and guests attended the invitationonly event hosted by Al Jenaibi International Automobiles to unveil the third model in the BMW 6 Series line-up. The BMW 6 Series Gran Coupé follows the successful debut of the next generation Convertible and Coupé models launched last year. The aim in the design process of the BMW 6 Series Gran Coupé was to achieve a synergy between the aesthetics and dynamics

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typical of a BMW Coupé and functional versatility of a four-door sedan. The result is a unique car with a distinctive character but unmistakably a BMW. The exterior sets new standards in terms of aesthetic design for four-door vehicles as seen in its low height and the flat roofline that smoothly flows into the rear end.

COMES NEW GENERATION i40 The new generation i40 has now arrived in the Middle East. Consolidating Hyundai’s Modern Premium philosophy, the new generation i40 offers consumers a stylish, sporty-looking car, which is both practical and fuel efficient. “The i40 sets classleading standards in its market segment, offering a sporty and luxurious drive, but without losing on practicality that any family needs in its estate wagon,” said CEO of Hyundai Middle East, Tom Lee. “Benefiting from the dynamic

thinking that characterises modern Hyundais, the i40 has truly differentiated itself from its competitors, making it the perfect choice for any family.” The i40 continues Hyundai’s ‘fluidic sculpture’ design language, and is designed to represent the perfect harmony of nature, man and machine. The hexagonal front grille has become a signature in all new generation Hyundai cars, while other neat added touches include LED side repeater mirrors that radiate strength and charisma.

RECORD SALES FOR GREAT WALL MOTORS Al Rumaila Motors, authorised distributor of China’s Great Wall Motors products in the Sultanate, has recorded sterling sales performance. Month-on-month May sales have jumped from a total 68 units in 2011 to total 218 units by close of May 2012. Sales in the capital have more than tripled year-on-year while in other regions it has doubled. “Although we started business with Great Wall on a conservative note, business has picked up as

more and more customers are looking at true value packages,” said Mohammed Hubais, general manager of Al Rumaila Motors. “GWM pick-ups in particular have proven to be especially popular in the interior regions of Oman where durable and rugged capabilities in a pick-up truck are top priority for operators such as farmers.”


VIBRANT INFINITI G SERIES The Infiniti G range, comprising Infiniti G Sedan, Infiniti G Coupe and Infiniti G Convertible models, spices up the driving experience of every type of driving enthusiast. While the Infiniti G37 Sedan combines superior handling with room for the family, the Coupe provides posh sports car performance. The Infiniti G Convertible offers the ultimate in open-air motoring and the G25 sedan appeals to the cost-

conscious enthusiast. All three varieties of Infiniti come powered by Infiniti’s superb 3.7L V6 VVEL engine, which in the sedan and convertible produces 328 hp and in the coupe 330 hp. A 7-speed automatic with adaptive shift control is standard and so is the downshift rev matching, which makes the manual downshifts smooth and keeps the driver in the powerband when pulling out on a two lane road.

ZTC BEGINS ‘SEGMENT TWO’ CAMPAIGN Zawawi Trading Company (ZTC) has extended its special aftersales service in the older vehicles segment to cover Mercedes-Benz models as far back to 1998. The new ‘segment two’ campaign by ZTC offers after-sales service to old models of Mercedes-Benz cars, including the S-Class of year models 1998-2005, E-Class from 2002-2009 and C-Class of year model 2000-2007. The service packages in the ‘segment

two’ campaign will be available exclusively at ZTC service centres in Muscat and Salalah, and cover service A (2.5 hour service) and service B (one day service), in addition to oil and filter change, replacing coolant, brake fluid, brake pads and brake discs. Other services on offer include disinfection of A/C systems, complimentary exterior and interior car wash and customer drop off.

30TH ANNIVERSARY OF PAJERO SUV Mitsubishi Oman has introduced a commemorative edition of the Mitsubishi Pajero SUV to coincide with the model’s 30th anniversary. In a special event held at the distributor’s Athaiba showroom, the anniversary edition shared the podium with all the generations of its legendary predecessors. The specially prepared 30th anniversary edition is based on the Pajero 3.5-litre MIVEC V6 with INVECS II 4-speed automatic transmission in GLS trim. “We are

extremely proud of the Pajero’s legendary success in Oman where the first vehicles arrived in 1985,” said Mark Tomlinson, general manager of Mitsubishi Oman. “Successive generations of the Pajero were launched worldwide in 1991, 1996 and 2003 respectively. The transformation of a hardworking, rugged and reliable utility vehicle into a lifestyle, luxury lifestyle model without losing its core identity is simply amazing in this class of vehicle.”

PEUGEOT BAGS ENGINE OSCAR Peugeot’s co-developed turbocharged 1.6-litre engine has impressed 76 automotive journalists from 35 countries, to be selected among the best of best at the prestigious 2012 International Engine of the Year Awards, also known as the engine Oscars. The awards ceremony was held at the Engine Expo in Stuttgart, Germany where Peugeot comfortably walked away with a prize for its small, turbocharged engine which has various applications in the PeugeotCitroen line-up including models like Peugeot 207, 207cc, 208, 308, 308cc, 3008, 508, 5008, 308 GTI, RCZ, Citroën DS3, C4 Picasso/Grand Picasso, C5, DS5,

DS5, DS3 Racing, DS4, DS4 Racing). “The International Engine of the Year judging panel consider drivability, performance, economy, refinement and the successful application of advanced engine technology,” said Bob Seshadri, general manager of European Motors.” 


BILLBOARD

OCTAL launches pet recycling

OCTAL recently kicked-off the first-of-its-kind PET water bottle recycling programme at the British School Salalah. PET bottles are collected at designated sites on the school campus and delivered to OCTAL’s PET complex in the Salalah Free Zone for recycling. As part of the programme launch, the school children were educated on environmental issues, the importance and benefits of recycling in addition to practical ways they can contribute to preserving the environment. “Children have a powerful influence over recycling habits of households and they have the perfect combination of wonder and imagination to mould eco-friendly lifelong habits that will result in reducing post-consumer PET waste,” said Neil Skeffington, process development manager at OCTAL. “We have always placed environmental sustainability at the forefront of our operations as a standard business practice. By championing PET recycling in the Sultanate, our ultimate aim is to establish a recycling culture in Oman, first beginning with the communities where we operate.”

BankDhofar to open new branch in MGM

Khimji brings Aurobindo Pharma to Oman Khimji Pharmacy announced its partnership with Aurobindo Pharma, a billion-dollar pharma major with strong presence in US and Europe. This tie up will bring Aurobindo Pharma Medicines (Anti-Hypertensive Medicines) and many such therapies at an affordable price, to the people of Oman. The launch ceremony held in Crowne Plaza Muscat was inaugurated by HE JS Mukul, Indian Ambassador to Sultanate. “We are pleased to partner with Khimji Ramdas Group which is one of the largest and most respected business conglomerates in the Middle East since 1870,” said Madan Mohan Reddy, director of Aurobindo Pharma. “After carving out a niche in stringent and regulated markets like US and Europe, we have now entered the GCC market, choosing Oman to be our first launch pad and Khimji Pharmacy as our preferred partner.”

NDC launches ultra premium soaps National Detergent Company (NDC) launched ultra premium soap D’zire in five exotic fragrances of ultra milk, cream and nuts, pearl, lavender and anti-bacterial. Available in stores across Oman and Middle East, these soaps contain extra moisturizers, which keep the skin glowing even in the searing summer heat. The ultra milk soap has extra moisturizer and goodness of milk which gives the skin an everlasting radiance upon daily use, while cream & nuts variant has the goodness of almonds that provides skin with a fresh glow. The ultra pearl soap nourishes and takes care of skin with its gentle fragrance and cleansing properties, whereas Lavender soap’s essential ingredients bring a visible glow to skin.

INS Viraat calls at Port Sultan Qaboos

BankDhofar has signed an exclusive contract with Muscat Grand Mall (MGM) management to provide world class banking services by opening a new flagship branch at Muscat’s newest shopping venue. The bank’s newest branch will be the prototype for the new design and fit which will soon be rolled out across all other branches as part of BankDhofar’s next five-year strategy. The MGM branch will offer a range of services to its customers and will be a hub for financial and banking activity in the shopping mall. “We are confident that the newest BankDhofar branch will add to the number of visitors to the mall, allowing our customers easier access to their banking facilities while enjoying their browsing and shopping at this excellent mall,” said Anthony Mahoney, CEO, BankDhofar.

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Aircraft carrier INS Viraat, the pride of Indian navy, was in Muscat on its first maiden call at the Port Sultan Qaboos on a three-day friendly visit to Oman in June. INS Viraat was accompanied by the stealth frigate INS Talwar and indigenously built guided missile frigate INS Ganga on its historic visit to the Sultanate. Captain AB Singh, VSM, commanding officer of the aircraft carrier INS Viraat and the officer in tactical command for this carrier task group, said the historic visit engendered deep pride and honour in the roughly 1,000-strong complement of officers and sailors on board the Indian Navy’s flagship and Asia’s only aircraft carrier. “It is with a deep sense of honour and privilege that we have come here to Muscat and our visit attests the strategic nature of relations between the two countries,” said caption Singh.


BILLBOARD

SanDisk partners Souq Technology

Samsung launches Galaxy SIII

Souq Technology International will be the authorised distributor of SanDisk products in Oman. Announcing its expansion into Oman through a partnership with Souq Technology International, Tareq Husseini, SanDisk’s Middle East and Africa sales director, said, “Our partnership with Souq Technology International reinforces our objective to expand our product reach in Oman. The entire range of SanDisk storage products will now be available to a wider market through the expertise and established distribution network of our approved partner. While some of our products were being sold in the country, Souq Technology International is the first authorised distributor.” Souq Technology International has been operating in the Middle East for almost a decade and is active in 16 countries.

Samsung Electronics Co launched the third generation GALAXY S, the GALAXY S III in Oman. Designed for humans and inspired by nature, the GALAXY S III is a smartphone that recognises your voice, understands your intention, and lets you share a moment instantly and easily. This sleek and innovative smartphone has the enhanced intelligence to make everyday life easier. With Samsung GALAXY S III, you can view the content like never before on the device’s 4.8 inch HD Super AMOLED display. An 8MP camera and a 1.9MP front camera offer users a variety of intelligent camera features and face recognition related options that ensure all moments are captured easily and instantly. Samsung GALAXY S III is powered by Android™ 4.0, Ice Cream Sandwich.

Country Club organises summer camp In order to help children make the best use of their holidays, Country Club Oman is organised a Summer Camp at Ruwi Hotel from June 26 to July 2, 2012. The weeklong camp helped children with learning, grooming, making new friends and having loads of fun as well. Children attending the camp had the chance to learn swimming, art and craft and yoga and involved in many more fun filled activities guided by professionals in the field. “Summer Camp 2012 is organised by Country Club Oman to ensure entertainment and involvement for not only adult members but also member children,” said Reddy, chairman and managing director, Country Club India. “I’m sure every child attending the camp will make the best use of the Summer Vacation.”

OAB sponsors MoE event Oman Arab Bank (OAB) has recently sponsored an event to felicitate outstanding employees of the Ministry of Education (MoE). As many as 207 male and female employees were felicitated under the patronage of HE Dr Madiha bint Ahmed al Shaibaniya, Minister of Education, in Al Bustan Palace Hotel. HE Undersecretary, administration and finance, Mustafa bin Ali bin Abdul Lateef welcomed the gathering. He highlighted the importance of human resources development in building civilisations and explaining Ministry of Education’s interest in developing efficiency of its affiliates. Director, educational assessment department of education directorate in Ad-Dakhiliyah governorate, delivered a speech on behalf of the employees. HE Al Shaibaniya felicitated the outstanding employees.

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Omanoil’s awareness campaign for youth An award ceremony presided over by His Highness Sayyid Faisal bin Turki Al Said marked the end of a three-month long nationwide awareness campaign entitled ‘Your Friends Make You Who You Are’ conducted by Rekaaz and Oman Oil Marketing Company (omanoil). Advocating against peer pressure and inspiring confidence among Oman’s youth, the campaign was a direct response to issues facing young people today. Omanoil’s collaboration with Rekaaz is aimed at engaging the local community and investing in the future of the Omani people by leaving behind a positive legacy of responsible and ethical social behaviour. 


MARKET WATCH

Eco-friendly ACs from Samsung Samsung Electronics Co has launched a new range of innovative eco-friendly air conditioners. Samsung’s Crystal air conditioner range offers consumers a breath of fresh air to beat summer time heat and diseases by eradicating up to at least 90 per cent of air pollutants, while the Max air conditioner range cools any living space with up to 31 per cent less energy consumption than conventional air conditioners. Samsung’s Crystal air conditioners feature the innovative Virus Doctor using the S-plasma ion technology that eliminates 99.6 per cent of virus causing germs, a unique feature that is not found in conventional air conditioners. “If a person has allergies or asthma, breathing clean air becomes very important to that person’s well-being,” said Robin Kadyan, general manager of home appliances, Samsung Gulf Electronics. “Our new Crystal Range combines the latest technology of air conditioners and air purifiers to dramatically improve indoor air quality

Camera with interchangeable lens Sony’s new NEX-F3 with interchangeable lenses that provide high quality

Reflecting elegance, sophistication

imaging offers DSLR-style results with less to carry. The pocket-sized

Damas has recently been appointed by

NEX-F3 features the same space-saving mirror-less design as other cameras in the E-mount family. Relatively larger than sensors found in point-and-shoot compacts, the 16.1 effective megapixel Exmor™ APS HD CMOS sensor captures more light for flawless, low-noise stills and crisply detailed Full HD video (50i/25p). Similar to traditional DSLR cameras, the NEX-F3 helps create aesthetic de-focus effects with the subject focused sharply against a smoothly blurred background. The NEX-F3 also helps inexperienced photographers craft top-quality portraits with the least effort. Auto Portrait Framing

luxury watch brand Talos as its exclusive retailer across the GCC region. Inspired by the Greek myth of Talos the protector, Talos timepieces are renowned for their unique designs and affordable luxury concept, with the brand already popular in Europe, Asia and the United States.

identifies the subject’s

A number of different Talos

position, trimming the

watch collections, including its

scene to create beautifully

well-known ‘Volute’ collection, are

composed, high

now available at selected Damas

resolution portrait shots.

outlets across the region. Talos

The 180° LCD screen

luxury watches for men and women are

is an important factor

meticulously crafted using Swiss movements and convey

for the self-portrait enthusiast.

a modern statement of luxury for a unique personal style. The watches are professionally-designed, hand-crafted timepieces of elegance and most collections within the brand incorporate diamonds. All Talos watches are sold with diamond certificates, and the back of each watch is engraved with details about the diamonds used in each particular watch. 

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GIZMOS

Convertible Ultrabook ASUS announced the arrival of two exciting new Ultrabook™ concepts that embody its ‘Happiness 2.0’ commitment to delivering the best end-user experience – the ASUS TAICHI and ASUS Transformer Book. The ASUS TAICHI is a slim and stylish ultraportable and is available in 11.6” and 13.3” models with a brilliant double-sided LED-backlit IPS/FHD display. The ASUS Transformer Book is the world’s first convertible Ultrabook™ which allows users to switch between an ultrabook and a tablet by simply detaching the screen. It is for users who prefer the portability of a multi-touch tablet computer for leisure, but still want access to a more traditional Windows-based ultrabook for productivity use..

One S HTC tends to get as much use as possible out of its names – just look at its eight variants of the Desire if you need proof – so it’s no surprise to see more phones arriving with the One moniker attached after the barnstorming debut of the One X. The phone in question sits just beneath the One X in the HTC range, and it’s dubbed the One S. The most obvious difference between the two models is the physical design: while the One X’s chassis is milled from a single block of polycarbonate, the One S is assembled from a variety of aluminium parts. While this makes the One S less innovative and striking, we can’t fault the build quality. This is still a very sturdy phone that feels strong in the hand, and it looks like a smart bit of kit.

New Cedar trail The netbook fad may have died down, but Toshiba is one of several manufacturers keen to prove there’s life in the form-factor yet. Its little NB510 looks strikingly similar to last year’s model from the outside, but it’s the first to sport Intel’s Cedar Trail update to the Atom platform. Cedar Trail isn’t a huge update, but it does bring some improvements. It brings a die-shrink to a 32nm fabrication process, a change that promises lower power consumption and less heat output. It now has support for faster DDR3-800 and DDR3-1066 RAM (the previous models topped out at DDR3-667), and although the CPU architecture remains relatively unchanged from the previous Pineview platform, the integrated GPU gets a big boost. Cedar Trail waves goodbye to the old GMA 3150 and ushers in the all-new GMA 3600 and 3650 cores – tweaked versions of PowerVR’s SGX 545 chipset. 


GOLFUPDATE

A double whammy Tiger Woods’ miserably inconsistent performance in the final round of 2012 US Open was followed by his being slipped, for the first time since 2001, from top spot on the Forbes’ list of the 100 highest paid athletes

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fter an 11-year reign, Tiger Woods has been deposed as sport’s highest earner. No longer golf’s world No1, Woods has slipped to third in the world’s 100 highest-paid athletes list conducted by Forbes – behind two boxers, Floyd Mayweather and Manny Pacquiao. The once golden golfer took in over $59mn in earnings and endorsements over the past 12 months. But that’s just half of what he earned in his peak year of 2009 – the annus horribilis that saw a sex scandal start to eat away at his advertising portfolio and once dominant game. Mayweather, the undefeated US fighter, collected a total of $85mn for his two fights with Victor Ortiz and Miguel Cotto over the survey period. That brought him out on top of fellow boxer Manny Pacquiao. The Filipino fighter collected some $62mn in earnings and endorsements. “There’s a reason they call boxer Floyd Mayweather ‘Money’,” said Forbes’ senior editor Kurt Badenhausen. “He fought twice during the past 12 months, spent less than one hour in the ring to dispatch his two foes – his combined payday for the bouts: $85mn. Miami Heat star LeBron James came in fourth in the magazine’s rankings with $53mn, the most of any of the 13 basketball players making the cut.

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Swiss tennis star Roger Federer was fifth at $52.7mn followed by NBA star Kobe Bryant at $52.3mn, US golfer Phil Mickelson at $47.8mn, English soccer star David Beckham of the Los Angeles Galaxy at $46mn and Portuguese soccer star Cristiano Ronaldo at $42.5mn. Golf’s current world No1 Luke Donald is at 48th position.

Inconsistent performance The last month also saw Webb Simpson emerge as the golf’s 2012 US Open champion at the Olympic Club, surging past the seven players in front of him on the last day, shooting a 2-under 68 and claiming a one-stroke victory. Woods’s early good work at the Olympic Club that was to signal a glorious return turned to dust on the final day. “I’m definitely still in the ball game. I’m only five back and that’s certainly do-able on this golf course for sure,” the world No4 said after signing for a five-over-par 75. That dropped him out of the lead, leaving him five shots adrift of the overnight leaders, Graeme McDowell and Jim Furyk. “It’s all about patience,” said Woods. “It’s just a few birdies here and there. It’s not like where you have to go out there and shoot 62 or 63. This is a US Open. You just need to hang around. First you need to get off to a good start. Get through the first six.

Because anything can happen at the last three holes.” That week was meant to mark the great man’s return to centre stage, a renewal of his assault on Jack Nicklaus’s record of 18 major championships. Instead, it served only to give succour to those who believe Woods will never climb to the top of that particular mountain. Tiger limped home with closing rounds of 75 and 73 to finish T-21, a far cry from the lofty expectations he had created after winning the Memorial Tournament just two weeks prior. Woods has not won a major since the US Open at Torrey Pines in 2008. 


BROWSINGCORNER

Beyond black and white Stephen R Covey’s The 3rd Alternative, Solving Life’s Most Difficult Problems unveils a radical, creative new way of conflict resolution in organisations and societies – a third alternative that ‘moves beyond your way or my way to a higher and better way’. An OER Review

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Written by the multimillion-copy bestselling author of The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People – Stephen R Covey – the book introduces a breakthrough approach to conflict resolution and creative problem solving. The 3rd Alternative is about more than just an armistice – it’s about creating a new and improved reality. A departure from the usual approaches to conflict resolution, negotiation, and innovation, this book reveals a new way of thinking that will be embraced not only by the many fans who have flocked to Covey’s prior books, but also by anyone who is seeking solutions

in their h i professional f i l or personall lives. li To a world of escalating strife and contention, 3rd Alternative thinkers like those Covey profiles here bring creative solutions, peace, and healing. Through key examples and stories from his work as a consultant, Covey demonstrates the power of 3rd Alternative thinking. His wide-ranging examples include: a Canadian metropolitan police force that transformed a crime-plagued community by abandoning their ‘them vs. us’ mentality and changing the whole definition of police work; a father who rescued his troubled daughter from years of despair and near suicide in one surprising evening; a judge who brought a quick, peaceful end to one of the biggest environmental lawsuits in American history without setting foot in a courtroom; the principal of a high school for the children of migrant workers who raised their graduation rate from a dismal 30 per cent to 90 per cent and tripled their basic skill levels; a handful of little-known people who are quietly finding new ways to bring peace to the Middle East; and many others. These various groups and individuals offer living examples of how to create new and better results instead of escalating conflict, as well as how to build strong relationships with diverse people based on an attitude of winning together. 

The destination for books, gifts and novelties. Stores at Muscat International Airport – Arrival, Departure Landside, Airside Departure, Jawharat A’Shati and The Wave.

f the 20th century was an age of impersonal wars, the 21st seems like an age of personal malice. The rage thermometer is way up. Families quarrel, co-workers contend, cyber bullies terrorise, courts are jammed, and fanatics murder the innocent. In any conflict, the first alternative is my way and the second alternative is your way. The fight usually boils down to a question of whose way is better. There are many methods of “conflict resolution,” but most involve compromise, a low-level accommodation that stops the fight without breaking through to amazing new results. The book under review, The 3rd Alternative, Solving Life’s Most Difficult Problems, presents a new and practical, but incredibly effective and eye-opening, way to reach resolution through using the ‘third alternative’. The third alternative moves beyond your way or my way to a higher and better way – one that allows both parties to emerge from debate or even heated conflict in a far better place than either had envisioned. With the third alternative, nobody has to give up anything, and everyone wins.


BEYONDBOARDROOMS

Against the grain Rami Al Lawati and Huda Al Lawati stepped out of their comfort zone to start ProShots which in a short span of three years has become one of the leading digital media and creative production companies in Oman. Reports Muhammed Nafie

time, more knowledge and more planning than being an employee for someone.” He says it has been a successful, albeit challenging, journey. “We started as a photography studio but could expand our wing to production, design, print media etc. and emerge as one of the leading companies in Oman both in production and photography. I am looking for more competition in the market so that things will become easier for us.”

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t requires tremendous amount of self-confidence and determination to leave the comfort zone of a rewarding and respectable profession to venture into an own enterprise, especially if it means starting upon a less trodeen path. Only dedicated and passionate self-starters can brace themselves for the vagaries of uncharted territories they step into. For Rami Al Lawati and his wife Huda Al Lawati, it was their entrepreneurial zeal and passion for professional photography and creative designing that prompted them to start Proshots Digital Media and Art Centre, in February 2009. While Rami gave up his job as an accountant with Omantel, Huda joined him forsaking her career as a lecture at Higher College of Technology. Within a short span of three years, the couple managed to expand their venture from a studio to a multifaceted digital media and arts centre with focus on photography, videography, digital production, special effects, 3D animation design, framing etc.

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Rami who firmly believes in the adage ‘nothing ventured, nothing gained’, describes his decision to switch over to photography, his lifelong passion, as the most difficult but one of the best choices he has ever taken. “When I decided what I had to do, I proceeded in that direction. I did my Master’s from UK in business administration and completed various short courses and workshops in design, 3D animation, videography to equip myself for it.” Powered by a Master’s in 3D animation and special effects and a Bachelor’s in IT, Huda had already made up her mind for the transition. “I am more into creative and design, while he is more business oriented. I learned a lot from the university of life through him. The shift from being an employee to become your own boss and to do things that you like is a big challenge.” Rami adds, “To start and own a business requires more energy, more

ProShots offers a wide range of retail and corporate services such as photography and videography for weddings and birthdays and album making to media coverage, awareness messages, commercial advertisement, documentaries, framing etc. Its fast growing clientele includes various ministries and some of the largest corporates and banks in the country.

Change of perception ProShots accords more importance to impeccable professionalism and high-quality services. Huda says though there are commercially very few players in the market people are getting more serious about video production. “Unlike ten years ago when people hardly bothered about the quality of the production and looked for cheaper options, now they have understood the value of quality products. They came to realise that quality matters.” While Huda attributes the success of their venture to the ability to think out of box and apply more innovative and artistic ideas, Rami highlights the significance of doing researches to understand the requirements and the latest trends of the market. 


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