Sunday, November 18, 2007

PEIE Offers British Firms a Guaranteed ‘Soft Landing’ in the Gulf

Coventry University is providing the gateway for British businesses to the Sultanate of Oman.

A VIP delegation from the Public Establishment for Industrial Estates (PEIE) met recently at Coventry University’s Technocentre to sign an historic agreement for a ‘Soft Landing Zone’ in the sultanate ( pictured L to R: Tim Luft, Coventry University; Dave Pender, PEIE & David Wortley, Serious Games Institute, Coventry University) - meaning access to class A office space and free advice and support on building business in the Middle East. The Soft Landing Zone will be established on Knowledge Oasis Muscat (KOM), the Rusayl-based technology park managed by PEIE. In return, the Coventry University Technocentre will host PEIE tenants who are interested in developing their business operations in the UK.

“We’re delighted to sign this MoU with Coventry University. Indeed, this is the first Soft Landing Zone to be established in the Middle East and we’re proud to have achieved this. PEIE is keen to encourage international trade and by becoming a member of the Soft Landing Zone community we can open doors for our tenants right across Asia and Europe. This is a very exciting initiative,” remarked Hilal Al Ahsani, CEO, PEIE.

The UK Soft Landing Zone programme has been set up by Coventry University Enterprises in partnership with government body UK Trade and Investment in order to establish a network of British incubator offices around the globe. The offices, located on key science and technology parks in Europe, Asia and now the Gulf, will be open to UK companies who are either considering or are at the early stages of undertaking international business.

In addition to desk space in a dedicated office – complete with IT services, telephone answering and post forwarding - businesses signing up to the programme will also be able to take advantage of a number of support services. Each company will be allocated a dedicated business support officer to advise or call in expertise on all legal, financial, cultural and practical issues of doing business in a particular country. In addition, the partnership with UK Trade and Investment will give participants the opportunity to benefit from subsidies on travel and accommodation.

Tim Luft, UK Soft Landing Zone Director at Coventry University said: “Oman is a dynamic and innovative economy with a young and highly-educated workforce. It’s a country that is very much open for business. Indeed, this unique agreement will lead to exciting opportunities for firms across the UK to enter a fast-growing and prosperous business environment – and to do so alongside expert local guides.”

The other key locations for the Soft Landing Zone programme include Malaysia, India, China, Hong Kong, Singapore, Poland, Romania and Sweden.
Blog contents copyright © 2007 PEIE

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

Smart Man Task Groups Meet

The Public Establishment for Industrial Estates (PEIE) is helping move Oman’s manufacturing sector forward by setting up a series of Task Groups that will focus on specific areas of concern to industry.

According to Ibtisam Al Faruji, PEIE’s Head of Marketing “The five Smart Manufacturing Task Groups cover: innovation and design; education and training; ICT; finance; and international trade. These groups have been established to ensure that promises made at PEIE’s annual Smart Manufacturing Conference held in April 2007 are followed through. Members from across industry and government are participating and we’re delighted with the sessions that have been held so far.”

Smart Manufacturing Task Groups met this week at PEIE’s Headquarters on Knowledge Oasis Muscat to discuss education and training, ICT and innovation and design. Al Faruji commented “The Innovation and Design Task Group is about helping Oman’s manufacturing sector to be more creative and innovative, particularly with best practices and product design. “For example, sustainable design is an area that the Task Group focused on,” said Al Faruji. “The use of recycled and recyclable materials; reducing pollution through cutting down on transportation, such as by using locally-sourced materials; making products which can be taken apart once they are discarded so that their parts that can be used again; and designing goods which use as little energy as possible while they are being made were all discussed,” remarked PEIE’s Head of Marketing.

Attended by key representatives from Oman’s higher education and industry, issues of specific concern to the Smart Manufacturing Education and Training Task Group include: changing the mindset of manufacturers towards management and workforce development, in effect, stimulating a culture change; tailoring training programs that meet the needs of manufacturers, particularly smaller firms; encourage dialogue between higher education and manufacturing; and promote the role of Oman’s Higher Education in providing training and R&D support to manufacturers.

“The intention is to take forward a number of pilot projects that have been identified by the various Task Groups and report on their progress at Smart Manufacturing in April 2008,” said Al Faruji.

Blog contents copyright © 2006 PEIE

Thursday, November 01, 2007

Oman Manufacturing Group Talks Branding

According to Mr. Hilal Al Ahsani, CEO, Public Establishment for Industrial Estates (PEIE) and organizer of the quarterly Oman Manufacturing Group seminar program: “This is a time of competition and differentiation for Oman’s manufacturers. This is a time for manufacturers to shape the future of their brand in an intelligent and inspirational way.”

Twenty years ago, manufacturers spent little on marketing and branding. Lacking technological resources, they focused on their traditional core markets and seemed unable or unwilling to compete. Nowadays, Oman-based manufacturers are aware of the necessity for a strong brand as a way of creating sustainable value. Led by S. Gopalan, CEO, Reem Batteries, Monday night’s OMG seminar examined the importance of brand development and its relevance to Oman’s growing manufacturing sector.

According to research carried out by Ernst & Young, up to 40 per cent of the 'average' company's market value is based on intangible assets, such as its brand reputation. In Al Ahsani’s view, when manufacturers develop a brand-based marketing plan, it is critical they think about every point at which their target audience may come into contact with the brand. “Every interaction or point of contact with the target audience is an opportunity for manufacturers to enhance their brand. These points of contact, or touch-points, include a wide spectrum of elements from corporate events, advertising, brochures, website, media and even the attitude of clients.”

Commenting from the OMG seminar, Dave Pender, Advisor, PEIE said: “this evening’s discussions clearly demonstrated that marketing isn’t a controlled process in an insulated lab. Manufacturers need to realize that marketing activities are prone to mishaps, last minute changes, conceptual shifts, the volatility of markets, natural disasters, social change and the vagaries of human nature. Some marketing efforts will backfire while others will yield great results. It was evident from tonight’s panel discussion that marketing requires constant fine tuning and adjustments to reflect and respond to the kaleidoscopic environment of our times.”
Blog contents copyright © 2006 PEIE

Oman Souq Online Wins 2007 BBIC Title

Under the patronage of the Minister of Commerce & Industry, HE Maqbool bin Ali Sultan, Oman Souq Online led by Anwar Al Tobi, Abdulhakeem Al Tobi and Badriya Al Baqlani received the top award at this year’s TKM – Ernst & Young Big Business Idea Competition held on Sunday evening at the Crowne Plaza Hotel, Muscat.

Founded in 2006 by Knowledge Oasis Muscat and supported by Ernst & Young, Nawras, Ericsson, NCR, Talal Abu Ghazaleh Intellectual Property, Infocomm and Oman Economic Review the annual competition recognizes and celebrates Oman’s most inspiring business plan.

Organizer of the annual competition, Hilal Al Ahsani, CEO, Public Establishment for Industrial Estates said: "I congratulate the winning team of Anwar Al Tobi, Abdulhakeem Al Tobi and Badriya Al Baqlani and all those short-listed for the competition because many of them have developed potentially winning ideas for areas which are crucial to our economy.”

At the award ceremony Mohammed Al Maskari, Director General, Knowledge Oasis Muscat (KOM) said: “Innovation depends on taking ideas right through to become fully-fledged marketable products and services. Annual competitions like this which help mentor and develop people to market and sell their ideas can only help us in boosting innovation in Oman."

Al Ahsani added: “I’m thrilled to see the growing, important contribution the TKM – Ernst & Young Big Business Idea Competition is making in showcasing young Omani entrepreneurs. The value of role models can not be underestimated and each of our finalists is someone that other young entrepreneurs will aspire to be like. I know that some things are universal when it comes to achieving business success - it takes vision, determination, commitment, sacrifice and passion. This year’s four finalists are testament to that and I applaud their incredible achievements."

To help realise their ideas, Oman Souq Online will have access to 12 months rent free office accommodation in The Knowledge Mine incubator program based on KOM. They will also receive RO4,000 in start-up cash, RO2,000 in telecommunication and Internet credit from Nawras and access to regular business mentoring sessions

Philip Stanton, Managing Partner, Ernst & Young – Oman, and lead sponsor of the business idea competition added: “This year’s finalists are talented and determined young men and women who all have the potential to be tomorrow’s business leaders. They are innovators who are true role models. I know they will inspire many others to take up the challenge of the TKM – Ernst & Young Big Business Idea Competition in future years.”

Blog contents copyright © 2006 PEIE