Call for reforms
But the report did carry a warning for Oman. “Overall, the country can rely on strong institutions and infrastructure, however, it needs to continue efforts to upgrade education and training systems and fundamentally reform the labour markets,” it added.
The mainly positive report has been welcomed by economic analysts and experts in the country.
“Oman is also considered to be among the top 10 fastest growing destinations between 2016 and 2026 for leisure travel spending,” said Dr. Anchan CK, an investment advisor based in Oman. “This is because it has been ranked one of the safest countries in the world.”
“International reserves remain relatively comfortable, and private sector credit growth is healthy, aiding consumption and investment,” he added.
“While hydrocarbon production will be increased by the Khazzan-Makarem gas field, which could come online, there will be expansion of 1.1 per cent for 2017 and 2.5 per cent for 2018.
“The score improves across the pillars of institutions, infrastructure, microeconomic environment, health and primary education, reflecting recent public investments in these areas,” said Anchan.
Oman’s Chamber of Commerce and Industry (OCCI) was also eager to shed light on the country’s global ranking.
“It is very good to see the World Economic Forum ranking us high in things like investment, though we have to still improve a lot in this,” said Ahmed Al Hooti, a member of OCCI. “Our regulations for labour laws, such as increased fees for expat employees need to improve. We hope to have this done so we can be a more attractive destination for investments.” “We have to be aware of running and doing business and have more regulations so it does not hurt or discourage investment in the country,” he explained.
“There are countries in this region competing to open their economies to investment and if we are to increase our taxation or fee for things like expat workers, they will be more attractive than us. We can’t afford to have that.”
Mohammed Nayaz, partner at EY Oman added, “The direction in which the economy is going is great and shows the strong institutions, but the pace and decision making is the thing that needs to improve. I think overall the economy is in a good place and with little more improvements it will be perfect.”