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Oman Vision 2040: Sohar Port and Free Zone being the key enabler of growth by luring in foreign direct investments and serving as the location for major projects

Home/Blog/Oman Vision 2040: Sohar Port and Free Zone being the key enabler of growth by luring in foreign direct investments and serving as the location for major projects
Oman Vision 2040: Sohar Port and Free Zone being the key enabler of growth by luring in foreign direct investments and serving as the location for major projects

The Sohar Port and Free Zone in Oman have emerged as one of the pillars of the country’s economic diversification. The Oman Vision 2040 is a long-term plan towards making Oman a stronger economy through collaborative efforts, the planned execution of mega-projects, and expediting the growth of crucial sectors including energy, tourism, mining, logistics, etc. Amongst all these sectors, the logistics industry has shown the most promise in helping the country go the distance in realizing its vision. The shipping companies in Oman and logistics companies in Oman have upped their ante when it comes to increasing their operational capabilities and taking part in boosting cross-border and international trade. One of the biggest contributors, however, has been Sohar Port and Free Zone. Oman envisioned a long-term dream of converting this port into a logistics hub by heavily investing in its development, and has, so far, succeeded in making it a reality. Established 18 years ago, the Sohar Port has become the strategic hub for the maritime and logistics industry, all set to position Oman as the global leader in this sector.

Its strategic geographical location has further helped the country in making things happen. Acting as a gateway to some of the main shipping routes between East and West, it makes transportation of goods easy and quick to emerging and established markets like Africa, Asia, and the Middle East. Equipped with natural deep-water jetties, it can easily handle the world’s largest cargo ships. The road network that Oman has subsequently developed around the port further enhances its trade capabilities connecting neighboring countries, including the UAE, Saudi Arabia, and other GCC countries. Its proximity to the Strait of Hormuz further enhances its importance in the overall scheme of things. While Sohar Port has immensely contributed to the growth of Oman due to these factors and being a preferred location for several major projects, another aspect that makes its existence and development even more important is the luring of foreign direct investment. Oman heavily relies on FDI and Sohar attracts a lot of it.

Sohar and FDI – A Match Made in Heaven

Sohar Port’s recent performance is a clear indication of how much it has contributed to the overall growth of Oman. Despite the global downturn, economic slowdown, and disruption in the supply chain, Sohar Port showed record growth in the number of containers handled and business generated. The numbers skyrocketed in 2022 after the global logistics company and the economy stabilized a little. If the 2022 numbers are to be observed, the Port throughput (export & import) reported an increase of 32%, with the dry bulk volume growing by 38% and liquid bulk volume by 28%. The number of contained handled grew by 4% in the same period, while the ship-to-ship cargo saw a growth of robust 60%.

And now the government is looking to further maximize its performance riding on a stable-looking 2023. Oman’s collaboration with the Port of Rotterdam and the Netherlands is likely to bring a lot more to the table in terms of participating in the global logistics map and increasing investment in the realm of green hydrogen. These two are huge facets of how growth can be envisioned from now on. These facets have also brought about huge amounts of FDI to Oman, something that the country can utilize in powering its future.

Oman now plans to reach out to more foreign investors by highlighting Sohar’s performance in the last three years. Sohar has definitely established its capability of handling the logistics needs of the region and this is a big victory for Oman (it has already attracted USD 27 billion), which can now position itself as a considerable power in the global logistics sector for attracting more FDI.

The Hub of Mega-Projects

The Sohar Port and Free Zone have been at the centre of major activities happening in Oman. Several MoUs are being signed to kickstart numerous mega-projects and different foreign companies are entering agreements with the government to expand the storage and operational capabilities of the port to enhance trade and business. Oman recently collaborated with the UAE government for a mega railway project that will connect Oman to different markets in Saudi Arabia. In another MoU, 6 million square meters of land have been allocated for the development of renewable energy. Apart, there are several other mega projects that are being planned and will be implemented very soon. This is sure to put the Sohar Port on the global map as one of the fastest-growing ports in the world.

Oman’s progress toward diversification has been a story of grit and dedication, smart strategy development, and excellent implementation. And developing the Sohar Port and Free Zone turned out to be its biggest achievement. Not only has Sohar opened the gates towards newer trade routes and bigger shipments, but it is also attracting foreign direct investments in huge numbers, something that Oman always desired. With international companies setting eyes on this region, Oman is sure to tide high on the path to progress.

 

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