Interview: Hilal bin Hamad Al Hasani
What is the PEIE’s strategy for addressing the growing demand for industrial land and infrastructure?
HILAL BIN HAMAD AL HASANI: The PEIE is continuing its growth and expansion operations, both on existing estates and on new ones. The Al Mudhaibi Industrial Estate is currently under construction and we are targeting other locations, such as those owned by Petroleum Development Oman in Marmul and Fahud and a new estate in Thumrait in the Dhofar governorate that will handle overflow demand from the Raysut Industrial Estate. We are also currently considering opportunities in the Al Wustah, Al Dhahira, Al Batinah and Al Buraimi governorates. From a strategic perspective, the new estates would do well to focus on specialised, dedicated activities and sectors of the economy.
We are happy to report that several projects under construction are scheduled for completion by 2017, including the 7.4m sq metres Samail Industrial Estate, which will provide around 5.2m sq metres of leasable and investable land for various industrial and service projects. In other good news, the first phase of development on 1.5m sq metres of the Al Mazunah Free Zone is also taking place, with the project expected to be completed by the end of 2014. Indeed, infrastructure has already been put in place and services for clients and investors are under way at the estate.
The expansion of the Rusayl Industrial Estate is also progressing well. The PEIE is working to develop key infrastructure at the site, such as roads, sewage, electricity and water, and is also upgrading basic services. It is crucial to undertake these upgrades now, as it has been more than 20 years since the estate was first built. To service growth and ensure sustainable services going forward, the PEIE’s redevelopment will include a 3.5m-sq-metre expansion of the estate, as well as an additional 500,000 sq metres for the corresponding logistics estate. Likewise, in order to meet rising investment requests for the Sohar Industrial Estate, the PEIE is planning to proceed with further development. We are set to begin providing services for phases six and seven of the project. This will cover an estimated area of 8m sq metres.
How is the country supporting the development of small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) with a view to creating more in-country value?
AL HASANI: The PEIE is one of the first organisations to pay attention to this matter, establishing the first governmental unit dedicated to SMEs – the National Business Centre (NBC) – in the Knowledge Oasis Muscat (KOM). Its launch was inspired by the outcome of the SMEs Symposium held in Seih Al Shamikhat and established in the hopes of building on the success of The Knowledge Mine, the business incubator programme established by the KOM in 2004.
The PEIE is taking steps to foster a good investment environment for all projects by providing support, infrastructure and superstructure, and value-added services. All of our estates act as incubators for SMEs, as these account for a large proportion of participating businesses. We provide an integrated package of facilities and services to meet the requirements of existing and future projects. Our facilities have basic services, competitive pricing and designated spaces for establishing projects. The PEIE also coordinates with other players to help provide services, build SME capacity, and develop the talent and capabilities of national cadres. Additionally, we started a national campaign to promote locally manufactured products, particularly those made by SMEs, both at home and abroad, by organising trade exhibitions.
In 2010 the PEIE and The Research Council established the Industrial Innovation Centre (IIC) in the Rusayl Industrial Estate to advance product development through the better use of modern manufacturing technologies. As a government organisation, the IIC is driven to provide an interface between industry and academia. To that end, IIC encourages local academic institutions to engage with various sectors through applied industrial research and development.
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