Q and A with Oman Logistics Centre’s executive director, Al Kattab Al Maani
Talk us through Oman Logistics Centre and your goals in the regional market?
Oman Logistics Centre (OLC) is at the heart of the Sultanate’s ambition to become a global industry leader. We deploy the latest technologies, drive operational efficiencies and develop the Sultanate’s skills base in line with international best practice across the public and private logistics sectors, dramatically improving the ease of doing business and encouraging economic growth. Our end goal is to pioneer a uniquely integrated logistics business environment in the Sultanate – benchmarked against the world’s top ten economies.
We see the world from the perspective of the end users - freight forwarders, customs brokers, traders and all logistics service providers. It is our mission to facilitate their business, developing Oman’s logistics sector in the process.
What is the 2040 logistics strategy and OLC’s role in it?
Launched in 2015, the Sultanate of Oman Logistics Strategy 2014 (SOLS 2040) leverages the Sultanate’s world-class logistics infrastructure and strategic location on the main East-West shipping route, confirming Oman’s status as a global logistics hub. OLC is SOLS 2040’s delivery unit.
Our goal by 2040 is to position Oman among the top ten in the World Bank’s Logistics Performance Index (LPI), create 300,000 new jobs in logistics services and have an annual sector contribution of USD 35 billion to the Sultanate’s GDP.
What has OLC achieved thus far in terms of implementing the strategy?
Our efforts are having a tangible impact. According to the World Bank’s Doing Business 2020 report Oman ranks first in the GCC in terms of trading across borders, a result which helped to raise our ease of doing business ranking by ten positions. Additionally, the World Bank’s LPI 2018 report saw the Sultanate’s rank improve by five positions.
Working in partnership with logistics stakeholders across the public and private sectors, we’ve already helped to deliver initiatives that are rapidly benefitting the entire value chain.
Whilst Oman already offers one of the lowest global inspection rates at 2.5%, over the last three months the Sultanate’s Directorate General of Customs has launched a new preauthorization programme for imports and exports across all ports of entry – further cutting costs and reducing clearance times.
Import shipments can be customs cleared and released well before goods arrive, and administrative dwell times for Government clearances and inspections have been reduced to the minimum. A one-stop 24/7 electronic service provides paperless clearances and one-stop-shops at borders.
As a further practical demonstration of our work, the number of chemical products requiring physical inspection by customs has been reduced from 650 to only 30 and a new streamlined process for testing cosmetic products, which groups separate tests into one single batch, will be in place at the start of next year.
What are the ultimate implications of SOLS 2040 for the wider Omani logistics industry?
All of our efforts aim to continuously build the business case for logistics and manufacturing companies to locate their operations in Oman. Looking to the future, we envisage the Sultanate providing seamless GCC access and serving as the central gateway to the swiftly expanding regional markets of Africa, the Indian Subcontinent and the Middle East. In short, with the introduction of this comprehensive blueprint, our logistics services will be as competitive as our geographic location.