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Oman: Doing business and staying in touch
Doing Business in Oman
Men should wear suits and ties for business and formal occasions. English is usually spoken in business circles, but a few words or phrases of Arabic will be useful and welcome. Appointments are essential and punctuality is gradually becoming more important in business circles. Business cards are widely used.
Sun-Thurs 0800-1300 and 1430-1700. Government office hours are Sun-Thurs 0800-1400. All offices are closed on Fridays.
Natural gas accounts for nearly 80% of Oman's revenue and the government has invested heavily in liquefied natural gas facilities, which have spurred development mainly in the northern city of Sohar. Unlike its neighbours, Oman does not have bountiful supplies of oil, although the government is taking steps to increase its production. There are mineral deposits of copper, which is almost exhausted, chromite, gold, silver, marble, gypsum and limestone, manganese ore, zinc, cobalt and coal. Agriculture earns revenue from the cultivation of dates, limes, alfalfa and some livestock.
Revenues are used to develop the country's infrastructure and to boost industries such as tourism and construction, as outlined in Oman’s 25-year economic development programme, Vision 2020. Tourism has taken a key place in the master plan and is expected to account for 3% of GDP by 2020, with 80% of jobs in the sector being held by Omanis by the same year. According to figures from the Ministry of Tourism, it is estimated that tourism’s direct contribution to GDP stood at 2.9% in 2009 (US$1.3 million). Excluding oil and gas, the sector’s total contribution to the economy was 4.7% in 2009 and the number of employees in hotels stood at 7,546.
For the past decade, major parts of the economy have been privatised and foreign investment is being actively encouraged to develop the tourism infrastructure such as hotels, roads and airports. Annual growth in 2010 was a respectable 4.5%. However, with such a young population (55% are under 20 years old), unemployment among young Omanis remains high.
Oman is a member of various pan-Arab political and economic organisations - but not OPEC.
US$57.4 billion (2010).
Petroleum, liquiefied natural gas, fish, metals and textiles.
Machinery, transport equipment, manufactured goods, food and livestock.
Main trading partners
China (PR), United Arab Emirates, Japan, Korea (Rep) and Thailand.
Keeping in Touch in Oman
Public telephones use phonecards which are available from petrol stations, supermarkets and some smaller shops. They are available in denominations of 1.5, 3 and 5 Rials. It is cheaper to make outgoing international calls between 2100 and 0700.
Roaming agreements exist with international mobile phone companies. Coverage is variable.
There are a few internet cafés in Oman's main cities. All the luxury hotels have business centres with Wi-Fi.
The government operates Oman TV and Radio Oman. Private, Omani-owned radio and TV stations are now emerging however, such as Hala FM, a private, Arabic music station. The use of satellite dishes is permitted.
A press act allows the government to censor publications for political or cultural reasons. There are more than 20 publications, including dailies and weeklies. English-language newspapers include The Oman Daily Observer and The Times of Oman.
Airmail to Western Europe takes three to four days and to the USA takes three to five days.