WORD ON THE STREET: ECONOMIC DIVERSIFICATION (Muscat Daily)

In the light of continued fall in oil prices, how can Oman diversify its economy away from oil?

Samikshya Satpathy, Private sector employee

Oil is Oman’s backbone but I think it has a lot of other resources that need to be explored. One is frankincense. The sultanate also has an excellent coastline and a variety of fish. It should also try and host sporting activities like cycling. Oman is already being promoted as a wedding destination and films are being shot here, too.

Leena Shah, Homemaker

Oman is blessed with a lot of resources other than oil. It can explore tourism. There are many countries which have diversified into tourism to boost their economies. Oman has excellent tourist spots like Salalah.

Usha Mani, Homemaker

Oman has a lot of resources that can be explored to boost revenues. Like other countries, Oman should host more sports activities. Its excellent terrain makes it an ideal place for adventure sports. Oman also has a lot of other natural resources that can be used to earn revenues. Dates are one such resource that need to be utilised.

Omar al Rashdi, Government employee

I think Oman should tap into its other natural resources. Its excellent locales can boost tourism revenues. I am sure people from around the world will like to holiday here despite the hot weather if infrastructure is developed.

Sahad Khalil, Private sector employee

Fall in oil prices should not affect our revenues as we have many areas that can be tapped into. Oman is already being preferred as a tourist destination but there are a lot of other natural resources too, that can be utilised to generate more revenue.

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Can measures like a tax on remittances and removal of FUEL, ELECTRICITY and Water subsidies work?

Saqlain Ahmed, Student

I don’t think taxing remittances will benefit the economy in the long run. The government should diversify into other sectors rather than just concentrating on oil as the main source of revenue.

Nashma Usman, Homemaker

No. I don’t think the government should levy tax on remittances or remove subsidies on oil. It should rely on other sources to boost the economy. More attention should be paid on setting up local manufacturing units.

Rahul Gadkari, Engineer

No. The government should search for better alternatives like encouraging the local manufacturing industry than removing subsidies and taxing remittances.

Jaffar al Lawati, Government employee

No. The money collected by taxing remittances will not be really helpful in boosting Oman’s economy. If the government wants to levy tax, it should work out a proper plan, weighing all pros and cons.

Syed Kamran, Financial consultant

I don’t think these measures will boost the economy as the government will not be able to collect a significant amount through them. Taxing remittances would only hurt the finances of expats. However, removal of subsidies is a much broader issue which will have profound consequences in the long run.

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How can tourism create more revenue for Oman?

Jasim al Hooti, Banker

I feel the government should encourage more small and medium enterprises to jump onto the tourism bandwagon as it is one of the most promising sectors. Although the government is making all the right noises, it should not succumb to external pressure like the current economic situation, and should continue to invest in this sector.

Vijay Handa, Manager

We need a flexible visa policy for tourists. We have world-class infrastructure like roads, but we also need development of allied infrastructure like better and affordable hotels in the interiors. Rest areas along highways are also the need of the hour.

Meer Yasin, Student

The best option is to concentrate on Oman’s countryside. It is time the sultanate shifted its focus from Muscat to lesser developed areas that are blessed with natural beauty. Salalah is now being promoted as a round-the-year destination and more facilities are coming up in Dhofar. But the region still lacks good restaurants and amusement centres.

S M Aleem, Private sector employee

Adventure tourism is a good option. Oman could be the next top destination for adventure lovers as the country is blessed with some amazing terrain. Proper infrastructure and awareness could help this sector. I think more citizens should be roped in to encourage and manage small establishments in the sector.

Isidro Nallos, Private sector employee

Oman has always concentrated on niche tourism which has been appreciated as it protects the country from many negatives that come with mass tourism. However, the strategy needs a revamp as the tourism industry needs to flourish and that can happen only by increasing the numbers.

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Which sectors can the country focus on for economic diversification?

Nawaf Darwish Hashel al Fazari, Student

I think Oman should focus its energies on tourism as it has mountains, deserts, seas, plains and green areas. To promote khareef season in Salalah, the government should either improve the road network or establish a rail network between Nizwa and Salalah. In Dhofar, cable cars can be introduced to attract more tourists.

Hilal Mohammed al Amrani, Teacher

Tourism is one option, but for that the government should develop related infrastructure. This will help attract more tourists to the country. Agriculture is another sector that Oman can look at. I think the government should also conduct studies to find out about more sectors which can help it generate revenues.

Mohammed Bakhit Mobarak al Badi, Engineer

I think the government should encourage interest in the business sector. Oman should also encourage businessmen not only from Oman but also from the Gulf, Arab and other countries to invest in various projects.

Hassan Mubarak al Balushi, Public sector employee

Some of the sectors that Oman can look at for diversification are tourism, fisheries, mining, maritime and heavy industries. Diversification of the economy is very important to generate more revenues.

Emad Ahmed al Rashdi, Lecturer

There are a lot of options. I think each ministry should take interest and develop its respective sector. For example, the Ministry of Agriculture and Fisheries can work on fishery development projects. The Ministry of Heritage and Culture should charge a fee from tourists visiting heritage sites, castles and forts in the sultanate.