Oman’s rapidly expanding retail sector could generate up to 54,000 jobs for the next generations of professionals, says a top retail advisor in the Sultanate.
Maimunah Shebani, the founder and Managing Director of the Retail Agency, which looks to raise awareness of the advantages of the retail sector in Oman, in collaboration with government agencies, says the upcoming major retail projects in Oman could absorb large number of jobseekers and fresh graduates.
“The total retail space in Oman is going to increase by 780,000 square metres because of all the new projects coming up,” she said, in an exclusive interview with Times of Oman. “There are many industries in Oman that are capital intensive, but the retail industry is one that can absorb large numbers of people, because it is a labour-intensive sector, and this bodes well for the job seekers and young people who are going to be looking for jobs in future.”
Citing a report by global investment and management company Jones Lang LaSalle (JLL), Shebani added that this could create 54,000 job opportunities by 2020.
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“Prime retail space is going to increase by 63 per cent by 2020, and that increase is estimated to create more than 54,000 full-time jobs by then,” she added.
“Across the world, no other sector offers more employment opportunities than the retail sector and I believe Oman can really benefit from this. At present, the Omanisation level in the retail sector is only around 13 per cent, but with targets for Omanisation of the work force as high as 60 per cent, the growth of the retail sector makes it an ideal career for the young people of Oman to embrace.”
While the new Mall of Oman project in Boushar is built on a plot of 137,000 square metres, Al Araimi Boulevard is another 147,000 square metres, and the Mall of Muscat is about 132,000 square metres, in addition to other projects such as the Al Araimi Walk, the Shatti Waterfront, Ghubrah Boulevard and Liwan Al Safinah.
“All of these malls are under construction,” added Shebani, who is also a board member and Oman representative of the Middle East Council of Shopping Centres. “Some of these are going to open in 2018, some will open next year and two are scheduled to open in 2020. And this is only in Muscat, the malls coming up in Sur and Sohar and other areas in Oman haven’t been included in this statistic of prime retail space.”
Shebani is currently in talks with various government entities and educational institutions to raise awareness of the retail sector in Oman, something she says is sorely lacking.
“The pressing issue now is that people are not aware of the opportunities afforded by the retail sector in the Sultanate,” she explained. “I always compare the current state of the retail sector in Oman to the state of the logistics sector 10 years ago. At that time, people thought to themselves, ‘oh, I do not want to be a truck driver’ but today, the logistics sector is actively recruiting people and there are now specialised courses in universities for jobs in this field.
“If you look at the Omanis who work in this sector, most of them are in entry-level jobs and they don’t know that if you stick it out in retail for just two years, you will move up the ladder and become managers, supervisors and even more,” added Shebani. “Retail companies are always looking out for talented people, so if you have some talent and show some discipline, hard work and perseverance, you could go far in this field. The best thing is that anyone can enter the retail sector and do well.”
© Muscat Media Group