Does Oman have what it takes to be competitive enough?

Published November 27th, 2013 - 03:55 GMT
Business and education will drive Oman's competitive edge, but the public sector has a critical role to play, too.
Business and education will drive Oman's competitive edge, but the public sector has a critical role to play, too.

The world is changing rapidly and what is emerging is the need for countries like Oman to become more competitive. The nature of competitiveness is changing too - it is no longer based on low costs facilitating the manufacture and export of goods; in response to this shift, the Public Authority for Investment Promotion and Export Development (PAIPED) is organising the 1st Oman Competitiveness Forum from 1st to 4 December 2013 at the Al Bustan Palace Hotel.

"Oman's national competitiveness, will be based on our ability to source and apply knowledge, skilled talent, build sustainable and high-quality infrastructure and transport services, develop an education system that responds to the needs of the twenty-first century, create a regulatory framework led by informed and entrepreneurial-minded civil servants and a range of public services that support the growth of the Sultanate's business community," remarked His Highness Sayyid Faisal Al Said, Co-Chair of PAIPED's OCF2013 Organizing Committee.

He added, "We're determined to respond to the changes around us and ensure Oman's offer is second to none; our competitive edge will guarantee our place on the global stage - and driving this is central to PAIPED's agenda. Indeed, it's in this regard that we've created OCF2013 - a three-day initiative designed to discuss the critical importance of national identity and vision, enterprise, education, growth, sustainability and smart communities in creating a stronger and more competitive Oman."

In addition to personnel from the World Economic Forum, OCF2013 has attracted over 20 international experts who will examine the core elements that make Oman competitive. It will also highlight actions that can help the Sultanate improve its performance and ultimately enhance its national competitiveness.

"As people become more mobile and companies more selective about where they locate, competitive nations as well as cities are becoming magnets for talent and investment. Businesses, students and tourists increasingly have the freedom to choose where in the world they make their mark. And if Oman isn't on their radar, then we're losing out. These are the very issues we'll focus on at OCF2013," commented PAIPED's Director General of Research and IT Services, Azzan Al Busaidi.

"National profiles are becoming ever more important," suggests Sayyid Faisal. Countries have to differentiate themselves from the competition. Today, standing for something is essential. "It's apparent," argues Sayyid Faisal, "that we live in a world where many countries are the same in terms of infrastructure and quality of life. However, national objectives, including an agenda to promote trade, investment, good governance, smart, connected and attractive communities, life-long learning and tourism, are best achieved through differentiation. In simple terms, we need to take a critical look and ask ourselves: Why should companies invest here or tourists visit, rather than go to other places for investment and tourism? It all boils down to how competitive our national offer is."

Economic research supports Sayyid Faisal in that a comprehensive approach to building national competitiveness promotes investment, creates jobs and boosts exports. But to achieve this, Government and the business community will have to collaborate to ensure Oman's strong and agile infrastructure is continuously renewed; that a well-educated workforce is equipped with flexible job skills; that start-ups are funded and incubated; and that investments in key sectors help Oman maximize its economic strengths.

Business and education will drive Oman's competitive edge, but the public sector has a critical role to play, too. "Sound policies must provide the enabling legal framework, regulatory regime and infrastructure to help Omani businesses compete. Most of all, this approach will require a continuing dialogue between business and policymakers. OCF2013 is all about helping facilitate that process," concluded PAIPED's Al Busaidi.

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