Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Origin Oman e-Survey in Full Swing

The Origin Oman Buy Local campaign has begun its end-of-year e-Survey ( “We’re asking people to complete a simple online questionnaire and tell us what they think about locally made goods and produce,” says Ibtisam Al Faruji, Marketing Director at the Public Establishment for Industrial Estates (PEIE) and the woman spearheading the Origin Oman marketing campaign.

Local businesses are the economic drivers that have carried Omani communities for generations. Although the survey has another few weeks to run, Al Faruji suggests that it already indicates people’s willingness to buy locally made goods and produce. “After all, it’s local businesses that create the real wealth that sustains the places we call home,” comments PEIE’s Marketing Director.

Research from the US drives home the potential impact of buying local, a San Francisco study found that a slight shift in consumer purchasing behaviour – diverting just 10% of purchases to locally made goods and produce – would, each year, create 1,300 new jobs and yield nearly US$200 million in incremental economic activity for the city.

”The California study provides us with overwhelming evidence that local businesses are the key to pumping up local income, wealth, jobs, innovation, creativity and reducing carbon emissions,” says Hamida Al Balushi, Origin Oman Co-ordinator, who works closely with local manufacturers and shopping outlets. “The more residents, businesses and institutional buyers we can get to support locally made goods and produce, the greater the economic rewards,” smiles Al Balushi.

The ongoing Origin Oman survey indicates that residents are making significant changes in their purchasing behaviour as a result of the campaign. For example, 80% of those polled are aware of the campaign, 71% recognize the campaign’s newly-introduced brand mark, 83% are interested in learning more about locally made goods and produce and 76% believe that goods carrying the Origin Oman brand mark will have a positive impact on consumers.

”It’s evident from these early results that Oman-based residents, people of all nationalities, are making a special effort to look out for and buy locally made goods and produce and they’re being vocal about their support," suggests Zuhair Al Zadjali, Origin Oman Co-ordinator.

All the research points to the fact that residents can make a significant impact on the Omani economy by spending their Rials locally. “It's heartening to see that so many consumers understand the important role local manufacturers and farmers play in our communities - and that they are increasingly choosing to buy local,” says Al Faruji.

Blog contents copyright © 2006 PEIE

Wednesday, December 03, 2008

Oman's Quiet Success

The quiet industrial revolution which has been transforming Oman’s manufacturing sector over the past decade entered the limelight at PEIE’s annual Smart Manufacturing Conference, 29 – 30 November at the Muscat Inter-Continental Hotel.

Held under the patronage of HE Maqbool bin Ali Sultan, Minister of Commerce and Industry the conference - supported by Nawras, Ericsson, Intilaaqah, Reem Batteries, Infocomm, Oman Cables and Al Mudhish – covered topics including recruitment and training, ICT, sales, marketing, logistics and the environment and their importance to helping Oman’s manufacturing sector sharpen its global competitive edge.

Hilal Al Ahsani, Chief Executive Officer of PEIE, said: “Employing over 30,000 people nationwide, Oman’s manufacturing sector is one of the most productive in the Gulf region. This conference was an opportunity to celebrate that success, salute the manufacturing excellence in Oman, and discuss the challenges and opportunities that lay ahead. It’s vital that we build on our strong position, and by working alongside public and private sector partners we can drive up the sector’s attractiveness, productivity and competitiveness. Indeed, it’s important that manufacturing continues to attract the right talent.”

Increasing dialogue between manufacturing and education is of particular interest to Abeer Al Jasim, General Manager of professional training provider Knowledge Horizon. “Any time spent on getting people with the right skills into industry is time well spent,” argues Al Jasim. “The crux of the matter is that manufacturing needs to form stronger links with education. This means getting manufacturers into schools and colleges so they can give students a better understanding of what the industry is about and the careers options available. Manufacturers also need to let universities know that there’s a real demand for science, maths, technology and engineering graduates. These courses are expensive to run and universities will only offer them in response to an identified market need.”

The global credit crunch was the topic of the conference keynote address. “Given the current economic climate, manufacturing isn’t a declining industry,” remarked S. Gopalan, CEO, Reem Batteries. “It’s merely transforming. But as it transforms, we need to move peoples' perception of manufacturing away from the misleading twentieth century stereotype of what it was. There are fantastic opportunities in Oman’s manufacturing sector as it transforms into a lean, innovative, technology-driven, creative and diverse twenty-first century industry. What's more, and in response to one of the conference panels, it’s apparent that local industry is ready to fully-embrace the change towards a low-carbon economy.”

It was obvious from the Finance panel moderated by Malak Al Shaibani, General Manager, The Youth Fund that many Omani manufacturers are now niche players and have adapted to years of intense global competition. “Local manufacturers export to over 40 countries worldwide,” remarked Ibtisam Al Faruji, PEIE’s Marketing Director and organizer of the Smart Manufacturing Conference. “Most manufacturers rely on a diverse range of markets, limiting their vulnerability to markets where there’s a consumer downturn. Even with Libor (the London interbank offered rate) at 6%, manufacturers will feel the impact of the credit crunch less than other sectors,” smiled Al Faruji.

The PEIE Marketing director went on to suggest that the credit crunch had so far had a limited impact on Oman’s manufacturing: “Manufacturers fund a lot of their investment from their own earnings and don't need to go outside to borrow - but I think if the credit crunch starts to impact other parts of the global economy and slows some of the major markets we sell into, it will have an impact. But certainly at the moment we're looking at something that may slow manufacturing, rather than stop it in his tracks,” she said.

According to Cambridge University economist, Michael Kuczynski, and keynote speaker at the Smart Manufacturing Conference, there is evidence of a return of manufacturing activity to Western Europe and the US from low-cost locations like China. “High transport costs, coupled with quality and reliability problems have led to demands from some customers for production to be located closer to home. It’s too soon to say if this is a trend but it is certainly an interesting development.”

Kuczynski goes on to say: “manufacturing is one of Oman’s best-placed sectors to drive forward the sultanate’s economy and sustainability agendas.” Adding, “PEIE is in a unique position to help advance this agenda.”

Blog contents copyright © 2006 PEIE

Thursday, November 27, 2008

The Future of Oman's Manufacturing Sector

PEIE - the government-run organization responsible for the Sultanate’s six industrial estates and the technology park, Knowledge Oasis Muscat - has brought together captains of industry, manufacturing experts, academics and Government leaders for the Third Smart Manufacturing Conference, to be held 29 – 30 November, at the Muscat Inter-Continental Hotel.

Backed by Oracle, Reem Batteries, Oman Cables, Nawras, Al Mudhish, Intilaaqah, Ericsson and Infocomm, this major Conference will explore the critical components for securing and enhancing the future of manufacturing in Oman.

“Our objective is to focus on issues of national importance, and to identify manufacturing areas that have the potential to deliver major benefits to Oman’s economy,” said Hilal Al Ahsani, CEO, PEIE: “These benefits include creating new jobs, enhancing manufacturing competitiveness and making progress towards accomplishing major national goals,” he said.

Competing successfully in today’s fast-paced global community requires rapid innovation, creativity, marketing, research and production methods to bring products to market cost-effectively. With this in mind, the two-day conference will address the significance of each of these critical manufacturing areas, detail the challenges essential for progress, discuss existing public and private sector collaborations and provide recommendations for future action.

Making the keynote address is Michael Kuczynski, a leading international economist from the University of Cambridge. He says: “We should be in no doubt that the success of Oman’s manufacturers is crucial to achieving prosperity for all. Economic development and thousands of jobs in Oman depend upon securing a vibrant and successful manufacturing base to meet the challenges of global competition. This Conference aims to build consensus and identify the steps we must take to achieve a long-term vision for manufacturing in Oman, building on the Sultanate’s manufacturing traditions. I’m delighted to be part of such an important initiative.”

Sharing the stage will be over 40 leading experts from manufacturing, banking, finance, logistics, HR, education, design, environment and ICT. Together, they will be exploring answers to the challenges of creating tomorrow's winning products today; developing manufacturing processes to rapidly respond to ever changing needs, and attracting and retaining talented people.

According to Ibtisam Al Faruji, Marketing Director, PEIE: “Manufacturing matters to Oman, providing over 30,000 jobs right across the Sultanate. In an increasingly competitive global market it is imperative that we all work together to drive up manufacturing’s competitiveness and productivity in the country. Indeed, this third Smart Manufacturing Conference will help set the scene to secure the future of manufacturing in Oman for the long-term.”

His Highness Sayyid Faisal Al Said, CEO, Oman Brand Management Unit and a moderator at the Smart Manufacturing Conference said: “manufacturing is critical to Oman’s economic future. In this regard, it’s the application of information technology that will help us reshape almost all features of manufacturing, from product development and design, through distribution and customer support. IT will also help us to rapidly design and test new products, and link “smart” supply chains to make sure there are always enough raw materials to build products and efficient methods to get them to customers on time.”

According to Sayyid Faisal, IT-enhanced processes are central to Oman’s manufacturing sector, adding: “In my view, it’s through the deployment of technology that we optimize our manufacturing capabilities and enhance Oman’s growing knowledge-based economy. Moreover, technology opens doors to designing new processes and products that increase Oman’s manufacturing sector’s performance and value. This is an important conference that comes at a significant time in history. I’m pleased to be able to contribute to the event.

Blog contents copyright © 2006 PEIE

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Smart Man Starts Saturday

It's estimated that over 30,000 people work directly for manufacturing companies in Oman and this provides the sultanate with a strong platform for its plans for this important sector.

“The diversification of Oman’s economy is tied inextricably to the future of manufacturing — but there is uncertainty about what the future holds. The last global recession hit manufacturing hard, punishing the sector for a glut of capacity and equipment at the end of the 1990s,” says Ibtisam Al Faruji, Director of Marketing at PEIE and organizer of the annual Smart Manufacturing Conference.

Given the recent global credit crunch, maintaining and expanding Oman’s manufacturing base will be a key part of next week’s Smart Manufacturing Conference. Through its six industrial estates, PEIE provides land and services to over 400 companies and takes a strong role in the sultanate’s economic development efforts. “As part of our remit, we hold regular networking events that support cutting-edge manufacturing enterprises. It’s these sorts of collaborations and networking initiatives that can help companies seize a competitive edge and increase manufacturing jobs in Oman,” suggests Al Faruji.

According the Marketing Director, PEIE is also focused on training — and retraining — and encouraging university graduates to consider manufacturing-related careers. Recent studies have found that while traditional production employment may be declining, there has been a significant growth in related occupations — the technical services, IT, research, design, packaging and innovation, financial and marketing jobs that support manufacturing enterprises. While these jobs may not always be classified as manufacturing positions, they should be included in any analysis of total manufacturing employment.

With world-class undergraduate programs in engineering, technology and business on offer at institutions such as Sultan Qaboos University and Caledonian College, “it’s wonderful to see how higher education is supporting career choices within the broad manufacturing sector,” Al Faruji goes on to say.

Since 2005, PEIE has organized the Smart Manufacturing Conference. The two-day event is one of a series of meets that better connect local resources with the specific needs of manufacturers. Al Faruji highlights: “the Conference provides a forum for industry leaders, government and economic development officials and academic experts to discuss their mutual goals of job creation and business growth.”

The Smart Manufacturing Conference will be held 29 – 30 November at the Muscat Inter-Continental Hotel under the patronage of HE Maqbool bin Ali Sultan, Minister of Commerce & Industry.

“This event is a must for anyone concerned about the future of Oman’s manufacturing and our national economy. Progress starts with dialogue, and this Conference starts the discussion,” says PEIE’s Marketing Director.

Blog contents copyright © 2006 PEIE

Wednesday, November 05, 2008

Blogging the Killer Application?

The search for the killer marketing tool is still on says Ibtisam Al Faruji, Director of Marketing at Knowledge Oasis Muscat (KOM) and organizer of the quarterly Digital Nation seminar program.

Blogging and other web 2.0 and social media platforms are now maturing to the point where local businesses are really starting to take the medium seriously. Intilaaqah’s Abdullah Al Jufaili will be one of five speakers presenting on the blogging panel at Monday 10 November’s Digital Nation seminar at the Muscat Inter-Continental Hotel. Al Jufaili will be talking about how businesses are turning to blogs to market themselves.

“I’ve maintained for some time now that the best way to use blogging in a business environment is as an architecture and a marketing tool, not a business in and of itself. For example, if you were doing a direct mail campaign, you wouldn’t expect to make money from the mail. You’d expect to make money from the sales that it generates. Blogging is the same. Most businesses shouldn’t expect to make money by selling ads or sponsorships or t-shirts on their blogs. Indeed, they should use blog architecture to make their websites more dynamic and search-friendly. In my opinion, blogs are an excellent marketing tool that can drive interest and sales in a company’s product or service. That’s where I think businesses will get the most use out of blogging. Is it a killer application? That’s something we’ll be discussing on Monday night.”

“But there are danger areas with blogging,” suggests Al Faruji. “One of the big problems with blogging is that it’s too easy. Twenty seconds on and any employee can start posting to the world at large without having to talk to a single person in the company’s IT department. How you blog, the tone, look and feel of the entries all have to be on brand. Say something counter to the company’s positioning and you can damage a brand overnight.”

As Al Faruji points out, “there’s a big difference between simply blogging and blogging well, and that’s why businesses probably aren’t necessarily seeing the kinds of results that blogging hype has promised them.”

“There really is value to be gained from blogging, but it’s all about the kinds of conversations you start and the relationships you build,” suggests Al Jufaili.

Monday night’s Digital Nation seminar aims to provide a forum that will allow Omani bloggers to gather together and talk about blogging and the Omani blogosphere. It also aims to introduce the concept of blogging to Oman’s corporate sector. The seminar is free-of-charge and open to all.
“We’re delighted to have Anwar Al Asmi (pictured), Creative Director of Muscat-based RealityCG moderate Monday evening’s panel, with panelists drawn from e-commerce; telecommunications, oil, print media and education it should be a really lively session,” remarks Al Faruji.

Blog contents copyright © 2006 PEIE

Saturday, November 01, 2008

Attitude Shift in Blogging

Over 100 bloggers, businessmen, journalists, marketers and academics are expected to attend Knowledge Oasis Muscat’s (KOM) free Digital Nation Blogging seminar scheduled to be held 7:30pm, 10 November at the Muscat Inter-Continental Hotel.

Backed by Omania e-Commerce, Nawras, Infocomm and UMS this final Digital Nation seminar of 2008 represents a number of milestones, suggests KOM’s Mulkie Al Hashmi. “As far as I know, this is the first time that local bloggers have been brought together in a public forum to talk about blogging and what it means to local business and academic institutions.”

The four man panel will discuss blogs which are essentially online diaries - personal web pages that can be frequently updated. The panel includes Kishore Cariappa, Abdullah Al Jufaili, Zaid Zabanoot and Raed Dawood. Indeed, with several members of the panel already publishing their own blogs the seminar has been designed to explore the potential impact of blogging on the business and academic landscape.

Al Hashmi was anxious to calm any shimmers of excitement. “There’s a tendency for people who are enthusiastic about technology to get terribly excited about it,” she said. “That could be a particular problem because techno-talk is often lost on most people. But this Digital Nation seminar will be techno jargon-free evening – it’s all about exploring how blogs can benefit local businesses and colleges in reaching out to their online audiences.”

"Given the global growth in blogging I think we’re on the cusp of something very special," said Intilaaqah’s Abdullah Al Jufaili. According to Al Jufaili who is leading the way when it comes to techno-savvy Omani businessmen, “this Digital Nation seminar is about trying to get organizations who are struggling to come to terms with e-mail to think about what they can do next to communicate with their clients and communities - and I think blogs are a way of doing this.”

“There’s no doubt blogs can play a powerful role in business and academic circles,” says Mohammed Al Maskari, KOM’s Director General. “'They can foster great communications. In fact, I’ve also come across stories of new business and research collaborations being formed, careers being advanced and media appearances resulting from conversations on local blogs.”

“We’d like to see an attitude shift so that blogging becomes a more acceptable part of business and academic culture,” says Al Maskari. “It’s happening slowly, but we want to catalyse that change.”

From an academic perspective, successful examples cited by Al Maskari include Stanford University (, which hosts a directory including links to blogs by faculty, staff, students and alumni. The Stanford Blog Directory lists hundreds of blogs by keywords and blogger affiliation. The Oxford Internet Institute ( similarly hosts a network of blogs written by students and fellows.

“By initiating frank and open-minded conversations about shared goals, blogs can certainly help local businesses and colleges communicate with their respective commercial and academic communities. I’m very excited about the 10 November seminar – anybody with an audience on the web should seriously consider coming along to this free of charge event.”

Blog contents copyright © 2006 PEIE

Saturday, September 27, 2008

Origin Oman Logo Launched

Locally made goods and services will now display new labelling in an initiative driven by the Origin Oman campaign to encourage consumers, businesses and institutional buyers to think, buy and eat local.

The new logo, a spiral sticker displaying the words ‘Omani’ in Arabic and English, was launched on Monday evening at the Muscat Inter-Continental Hotel by HE Maqbool bin Ali Sultan, Minister of Commerce & Industry.

“This is a very exciting day for Oman. The re-branding is a natural extension of the Origin Oman campaign’s commitment to help local manufacturers, service providers and farmers deliver excellence to their customers, and to broaden the reach of Oman-made goods both domestically and internationally. Indeed, Origin Oman’s new dynamic visual identity clearly represents the government’s optimism for the future,” said Ibtisam Al Faruji, who has been running the Origin Oman marketing campaign since January.

According to the Origin Oman marketing team, the new logo will appear on everything from packaging, stationary, fruit, billboards, the Internet through to supermarket displays. “Thanks to the Origin Oman campaign, consumers, businesses as well as institutional buyers right across the sultanate are becoming ever more aware of where their products comes from. From an economic, environmental and community perspective that has to be healthy,” remarks Azzan Al Busaidi of Oman’ Brand Management Unit.

“In the short time we’ve been running the Origin Oman campaign, the response has been very enthusiastic. People want to find locally made goods, but perhaps don't know how to identify them. We hope the new logo will help solve that problem. The campaign is all about connecting manufacturers, service providers as well as farmers with local consumers,” comments Al Faruji.

The idea behind replacing the national products logo was initiated in April when Al Faruji and her team launched the Origin Oman Student Logo Design Competition. “We wanted a more modern and edgy logo, one that reflected Oman’s vibrant and dynamic economy. Given the winning logo design, I think we found exactly what we were looking for,” smiles Al Faruji.

Haitham Al Busafi, the competition winner, and final year architecture student at Sultan Qaboos University, said: “I’m thrilled to have won the competition, it’s a great honour to have my design going out on Omani products that will travel across the world, that’s absolutely fantastic. Moreover, the feedback I’ve received so far on the new visual identity has been highly complimentary.”

The Origin Oman campaign aims to help people find out more about buying locally made goods and services. “In fact, over the past year or so, we’ve seen peoples’ interest in where and how goods are produced skyrocket,” remarks Al Faruji.

Oman boasts a wealth of quality manufacturers, service providers and farmers. We should be proud of them and support them. I’m confident the new logo will give local businesses a real boost,” says Oman Brand Management Unit’s Al Busaidi.
Blog contents copyright © 2006 PEIE

Smart Manufacturing Heats Up

PEIE organizers of Oman’s annual Smart Manufacturing Conference have announced the program for this year’s event, scheduled to take place 3 – 4 November at the Muscat Inter-Continental Hotel.

Many in the manufacturing sector view the Smart Manufacturing Conference as one of the Gulf region’s most important industrial events, “it’s where industrialists learn first hand about emerging issues that are impacting on today’s ever-more sophisticated and hi-tech manufacturing industry,” suggests Hilal al Ahsani, CEO, PEIE. “The 2008 conference program is one of the strongest line ups in the history of the event and has been carefully designed to give attendees an invaluable source of information,” added PEIE’s CEO proudly.

Smart Manufacturing 2008 boasts an impressive range of presentations covering a broad spectrum of industry sectors. This year’s speakers include: HH Sayyid Faisal Al Said, Oman’s Brand Management Unit; Dr. Salim Al Ruzaiqi, ITA; Abdullah Lootah, Microsoft; Dr. Mohammed Al Wohaibi, Omantel; Abeer Abdullah, Knowledge Horizon; Rafid Mukadam, Infocomm; Graham Porter, Cisco; Malak Shaibani, The Youth Fund; Abdullah Al Jufaili, Intilaaqah; Geoff Walsh, DHL; Peter Hughes, Arrow Logistics Services; P Varghese, Oman Polypropylene; Sub Ramanian, National Biscuits Industries; Edward McNally, Tabreed Oman; Yousuf Ahmed, Oman Textile Mills; S. Gopalan, Reem Batteries; Mahavir Jain, Sweets of Oman; Dr. Bhaskar Dutta, Al Jazeera Steel Product Company; and Anwar Sultan, Majan Glass Company.

Britain’s industry guru, Mark Eaton, will present the conference keynote address entitled: “Where’s Manufacturing Heading?” on the first morning of the event and will set the two days up in his own inimitable style.

“The two-day program will be of interest to professionals from a wide range of vertical markets, including plant, production and logistic managers, control and process engineers, marketers and sales personnel, finance and IT professionals as well as those involved in environmental issues related to the manufacturing process,” says Ibtisam Al Faruji, PEIE’s Marketing Director.

In addition to the eight discussion panels, the conference will also have an area dedicated to product and service demonstrations, allowing delegates to participate in specialist briefings targeted to their particular areas of interest. “This, we feel, will facilitate a hands-on, relevant and more personalized event,” says Al Faruji.

Summing up the overall objective of the conference, Al Ahsani remarks: “At this year's Smart Manufacturing Conference, PEIE aims to give industry professionals an understanding of how modern manufacturing is developing, and most importantly, how these developments will impact on how they work and serve their client base.”

Blog contents copyright © 2006 PEIE

Thursday, September 18, 2008

Origin Oman Go Green Guide Launched

Residents of Oman are being encouraged to ‘go green’ and a new booklet packed full of useful tips and advice has just been published to help you do so.

Supported by Omran and the Environment Society of Oman (ESO,) the Origin Oman Go Green Guide was launched at a recent press conference under the patronage of HE Ahmed Al Dheeb, Under Secretary, Commerce and Industry, Ministry of Commerce and Industry (MoCI).

ESO’s General Manager, Nida Helou, says, “The Origin Oman Go Green Guide contains a lot of helpful, practical advice on how we can do more to protect the environment. I’m sure people of all ages and backgrounds will find it extremely useful and we hope that everyone who reads it learns something new. Our particular hope is that people take something from the Guide, no matter how small, and make their life a little greener.”

Nasser Al Rahbi, Media Co-ordinator for the Origin Oman campaign added, “The Go Green Guide is divided into sections including buildings and the landscape; in the home; recycling; in the garden; at work; at school; travel; what we eat and how to generally ‘green’ up your lifestyle. It’s a fantastic resource.”

Clearly enthusiastic about the topic Al Rahbi goes on to say, “The notion of local products isn’t exactly new. Of course, most things start their life produced for local sale but recently there’s been a revival of interest in buying goods, food and services from closer to home. It’s driven by desire for quality, originality, a will to invest in our own communities and a concern for the environment. Origin Oman’s Go Green Guide is a response to that.”

The Origin Oman campaign believes that nurturing local business can bring substantial economic rewards, create all important job opportunities, spread more money around the sultanate and help reduce CO2 emissions. Indeed, a recent study found that for every US$100 local busineses brought in through sales, they returned US$68 to the local economy through wages and benefits, purchase of goods and services like office supplies, IT, accounting and advertising, profits to local owners and charitable giving. “Statistics like these clearly illustrate the power consumers have in influencing the growth of local business,” remarks Ibtisam Al Faruji, the Origin Oman Marketing Director.

“If we can influence even 10 per cent more consumers to spend their money on locally produced goods and servics, that'll have a significant economic impact,” says Al Faruji. “Indeed, it can make the difference between life and death for local busineses.” The message is clear declares Al Faruji, “It's time to think, buy and eat local.”

Blog contents copyright © 2006 PEIE

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Green Manufacturing

Taking steps towards being a ‘green manufacturer’ isn’t just about being eco-friendly, it’s becoming an economic necessity, as customers and shareholders are now demanding it, suggests PEIE’s Mulkie Al Hashmi and Co-ordinator of Oman’s annual Smart Manufacturing Conference.

”Omani manufacturers that don’t address issues such as energy wastage, the integration of recycled or biodegradable materials in products, excess packaging, carbon offsets and shorter supply chains will be held to account,” warns Al Hashmi. Indeed, manufacturers the world over are facing a new ‘green’ reality and those that don’t adapt to this new environment will suffer.

For any manufacturer, points out Al Hashmi, ‘green’ covers a wide range of areas from the materials they buy to the energy they use; to transportation costs for inbound and outbound freight; to the amount and type of paper they use in their office; through to the amount of waste they create and what’s done with it. According to the Smart Manufacturing Conference Co-ordinator: “Oman-based manufacturers are spending large amounts of energy, time and money to improve their sustainability, operations and image. In fact, we’re witnessing manufacturers across Oman develop new products and procedures that are more environmentally friendly. Firms are certainly working hard to reduce their eco footprint.”

In response to this new economic reality, November’s Smart Manufacturing Conference will include a ‘green panel’, led by Graham Dergens of the Environment Society of Oman. “The panel’s been specifically designed to help senior manufacturing leaders understand and implement today’s ‘green’ issues,” sys Al Hashmi. Participating on the panel is Amrou Al Sharif, CEO, Seeb Systems (pictured) a leading supplier of industrial measurement tools and services and PEIE tenant.

“We've always had a strong belief in doing our bit to protect the environment, despite the additional short-term expenses of time, money and manpower," says the Seeb Sytems’ CEO. "We believe that the long-term protection of our planet's limited natural resources is incredibly important. In fact, Seeb Systems has always made a concerted effort to offer quality automation tools and services that directly contribute to the reduction of energy and material waste,” says Al Sharif proudly.

According to Al Sharif, Seeb Systems’ online power quality monitoring solution will help Oman’s energy providers, distributors and consumers minimize electrical power waste. “Poor power management is a significant contributor to inefficient energy consumption and creation of CO2 gases,” says the young Omani engineer.

"Oman-based consumers are more environmentally conscious today and are seeking out ‘green’ products and services,” remarks Al Sharif, “but to differentiate yourself in a growing market, manufacturers need to move from just selling green products and services to becoming a ‘green’ company. It’s time we took green manufacturing to the next level in Oman and I’m confident November’s Smart Manufacturing Conference will help us achieve that goal,” claims Al Sharif.

Blog contents copyright © 2006 PEIE

Monday, September 08, 2008

Environmentalists Win Big Business Idea Competition 2008

Tomorrow’s entrepreneurs were unveiled on Sunday evening as Oman’s hottest young business minds came together for the final of the 2008 TKM – Ernst & Young Big Business Idea Competition (BBIC). There was an unmistakable atmosphere of excitement as everyone waited to find out just who would walk away with their share of the impressive RO5,000 prize package and 12 months rent free office accommodation at the Knowledge Mine (TKM) business incubator program.

The awards evening held at the Muscat Inter-Continental Hotel marked the end of four months of hard work and anticipation as around 50 entries were finally short listed to three finalists.

The competition runs annually and is organized by the TKM incubator program based at Knowledge Oasis Muscat (KOM) and Ernst Young. The competition is also supported by Sanad, Intilaaqah, Knowledge Horizon, Infocomm, NCR and Oman Economic Review.

“BBIC was launched in 2006 to help young Omanis develop business awareness and an understanding of the skills needed to become a successful entrepreneur. We’re delighted with how the competition has developed over the past three years. It’s critical that we encourage youngsters to embrace the enterprise culture,” says Ibtisam Al Faruji, Marketing Director at KOM.

Before the results were announced, Philip Stanton, Country Manager at Ernst & Young said a few inspirational words on behalf of those involved in the competition, and singled out the quality of the business plans submitted. “From the perspective of any lender or investor, a good business plan is absolutely crucial. I’m delighted that my colleagues and I have been actively involved in the TKM - Ernst & Young Big Business Idea Competition and the number ofsponsors who have committed their support speaks volumes about the importance of initiatives like this that benefit not just the business community but society at large.”

A wide spectrum of ideas were submitted, but the one which really stood out was Mazoon Environmental & Technical Services run by science graduates Rayan Al Kalbani and Yaqoob Al Mahrooqi, and their cutting edge micro-organism technology that cleans up oil spills in a cost-effective and environmentally friendly manner. Rayan and Yaqoob competed against two other teams in the Sunday night final.

Mohammed Al Maskari, Director General, KOM and head of the judging panel said: “Over the last three years the quality of entries to BBIC has never failed to impress me. This year continued this excellent trend and the judges were hugely impressed with all the teams’ presentations, preparations and business plans. In particular, the Mazoon Environmental & Technical Services team showed a first-rate grasp of the principles of finance, marketing and intellectual property and demonstrated the attributes needed to be a success. Rayan and Yaqoob intend to move into the TKM incubator program in the next few weeks. I’m sure we’re going to hear a lot about them over the coming months.”

Rayan Al Kalbani, Executive Director of the winning team said: “We’re tremendously happy to have won. We’re very grateful to BBIC for the opportunity to be part of such a valuable experience. We would also like to acknowledge the support of all those that have helped us reach this point. We’re looking forward to joining TKM and to taking our business forward.”

Runners-up in the competition were Bader Al Hamadani who presented on 3D cartoon animation and Hussam Al Amri who deliver a business idea on robotics and embedded systems.

“It’s exciting to see the wealth of entrepreneurial talent in our midst and very gratifying to be able to help turn these innovative business ideas into reality – to the benefit of those taking part and the national economy. Next year’s competition promises to be even bigger and better, bringing entrants the support of top professional and business advisers and providing more high profile exposure,” remarked Hilal Al Ahsani, CEO, the Public Establishment for Industrial Estates.

Blog contents copyright © 2006 PEIE

Friday, September 05, 2008

Mark Eaton Delivers Smart Man Keynote

PEIE will host its annual “Smart Manufacturing Conference” on November 3 – 4 at the Muscat Inter-Continental Hotel.

Held under the patronage of HE Maqbool bin Ali Sultan, Minister of Commerce & Industry and Chairman, PEIE, Smart Manufacturing is an annual two-day event specifically designed for professionals in the manufacturing sector. Featured speakers consist of leading industry experts from Europe, Asia and the Gulf who will present on key strategies and technologies that are driving today’s manufacturing industry.

“This year's event will explore what’s behind manufacturing’s efforts in marketing, logistics, finance, human resource development and product quality. The conference is open to all and will draw representation from Al Jazeera Steel Products; Oman Development Bank: Reem Batteries; Cisco; Oman Textile Mills; Infocomm; Microsoft; the Information Technology Authority; Sweets of Oman; National Bank of Oman and DHL. It’s an eclectic and exciting line-up of professionals,” remarks PEIE’s Mulkie Al Hashmi and Smart Manufacturing Conference Co-ordinator.

The keynote address will be delivered by Mark Eaton, Chairman of Britain’s Institute of Engineering & Technology's Manufacturing Professional Network. “Mark is a winner of the Viscount Nuffield Medal for his contribution to British Manufacturing and has authored a number of strategy and policy papers including the manufacturing strategy for the East of England, a region covering over 18,000 manufacturers,” says Al Hashmi proudly.

According to Ibtisam Al Faruji, PEIE’s Head of Marketing: ” I’m delighted that Mark has agreed to speak at the conference, it’s a real coup for PEIE. He will look at topics important to Oman’s manufacturing industry including Manufacturing 2.0, demand driven manufacturing and supply chain functions, customer relationship, design and contract manufacturers. It’ll be a real full on session and on top of this, he’s a very engaging speaker.”

The conference will have eight themed panel discussions with over 30 presenters. The two-day event will also feature the Smart Manufacturing Innovation Demo Space, where specific business issues, product features and recommended applications will be on display.

"The Smart Manufacturing Conference is an essential venue for Oman’s manufacturing community to exchange best practices in a focused and collaborative environment," says S. Gopalan, CEO, Reem Batteries and sponsor of the event.

Blog contents copyright © 2006 PEIE

Wednesday, September 03, 2008

BBIC Mentors

Volunteering to help others doesn't just mean running the local Muscat junior football league or school car boot sale. Many people are able to use the knowledge and skills gained in their workplace to help others.

Abeer Al Jasim, is Head of Professional Qualifications at Knowledge Horizon and has worked in business education and training for over 10 years during which time she has learned a thing or two about setting up a small business. For the past few weeks she has been using her expertise to help the three finalists of this year’s TKM – Ernst & Young Big Business Idea Competition (BBIC) master the art of presentation.

Abeer has been mentoring the three finalists from Mezoon Environmental and Technical Services; Robotics and Embedded Systems; and 3D Cartoons all nominated to present their big business ideas at the BBIC final and award ceremony on 7 September at the Muscat Inter-Continental Hotel.

“I’ve found my work as a Business Mentor with the BBIC finalists extremely rewarding and it has taught me to stop thinking like an educator and see the challenges from another angle,” says Abeer. “It’s given me an opportunity to share the knowledge and skills which I have gained during my professional career with young people who are trying to start up in business on their own. I’d like to think my expertise will help the BBIC finalists succeed.”

Ibtisam Al Faruji, Head of Marketing at the Public Establishment for Industrial Estates and organizer of the BBIC says: “Having mentors like Abeer has meant a lot to the BBIC finalists. She’s offered the support that any new entrepreneur needs - namely solid advice, a sounding board for ideas but more importantly a shoulder to lean on.”

Supported by Ernst & Young, Sanad, Intilaaqah, NCR, Infocomm and Oman Economic Review, BBIC runs a series of start-up workshops each year aimed at addressing issues related to business plan writing. “Once we’ve evaluated the competition entries and selected the finalists they undergo presentation skills training, this is where Abeer has been particularly active. The mentors we involve in the workshops need to possess business expertise, patience, a non-judgemental manner and a strong rapport with young people. Abeer has all those qualities and we’re delighted to have her on board advising the finalists,” says Al Faruji.

“I’ve got a lot of personal and professional satisfaction from mentoring the three BBIC finalists. Indeed, it’s given me a chance to give something back to the local community, that’s important in my book,” smiles Al Jasim.

“The BBIC finalists like to have someone to bounce ideas off and guide them through the tricky task of presenting their ideas. Standing up on stage and delivering a five minute power pitch to a room full of strangers is no easy task,” says Al Faruji.

Blog contents copyright © 2006 PEIE

Saturday, August 30, 2008

Origin Oman to Launch Go Green Guide

The Origin Oman campaign is claiming an industry first – Oman’s first comprehensive guide to reducing your carbon footprint.

More than 50,000 copies of the Origin Oman Go Green guide will be circulated to the general public on the guide’s launch scheduled for 17 September.

Ibtisam Al Faruji PEIE’s Head of Marketing and the woman responsible for the Origin Oman marketing campaign said: “The Go Green guide contains a lot of helpful, practical advice on how we can do more to protect the environment. I am sure that most people will find the guide extremely useful and everyone who reads it is likely to learn something new. The biggest challenge is putting the theory into practice.”

Compiled with the support of Omran and the Environment Society of Oman the Origin Oman Go Green guide is designed to help Oman-based residents reduce their energy consumption and includes sections on buildings and the landscape; in the home; recycling; in the garden; at work; at school; travel; what we eat and how to generally ‘green’ up your lifestyle.

Nasser Al Rahbi, Origin Oman’s Media Co-ordinator commented that “improving environmental and sustainability performance is good for the environment, but it’s also good business practice, which is critical in the current economic climate.”

Blog contents copyright © 2006 PEIE

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Smart Manufacturing Conference 2008

PEIE will hold its annual two-day Smart Manufacturing conference at the Muscat Inter-Continental Hotel , 3 - 4 November 2008.

Held under the patronage of Maqbool bin Ali Sultan, Oman's Minister of Commerce & Industry “this is a major event in the Omani manufacturing industry calendar. The tw-day event is targeting an audience of over 200 senior executives from all areas of manufacturing and will embrace: developing people, leadership, strategy, globalisation, marketing, finance, competitiveness and business efficiency,” says Hilal Al Ahsani, PEIE’s CEO (pictured).

Eminent principal speakers at the conference will include: Dr Salim Al Ruzaiqi, ITA; Dr. Mohammed Al Wohaibi, Omantel; Abeer Abduwani, GroFin; Rawan Darwish, Landor Associates; Siobhan Adams, Gulf Marketing Review; Abdullah Lootah, Microsoft; Malak Al Shaibani, The Youth Fund; Abeer Al Jasim, Knowledge Horizon; Mohammed Al Lawati, Oman Cables; and Dr. Bhaskar Dutta of Al Jazeera Steel Products.

Despite broader concerns over the global economic outlook, Oman-based manufacturers continue to record growth and secure significant output levels. “Manufacturing isn’t a declining industry,” says PEIE’s Mulkie Al Hashmi and Smart Manufacturing conference co-ordinator. “It’s merely transforming. But as it transforms, we need to move peoples’ perception of manufacturing away from the misleading 20th century stereotype of what it was. There are fantastic industry opportunities right across Oman, particularly on PEIE’s managed estates, as manufacturing is transforming into a lean, innovative and diverse 21st Century industry.”

PEIE’s Smart Manufacturing conference is aimed at both industrialists and academics. According to Al Hashmi: “The conference will be equally of interest to those already involved in manufacturing, but also those looking to engage with this exciting and expanding sector.” The conference will cover process, management, finance, organizational and materials issues, design and sales opportunities and industrial applications, making the event of relevance to engineers, bankers, marketers, sales personnel, designers and business managers, as well as academics and researchers.

The two-day conference will also play host to a parallel industry exhibition supported by leading manufacturers and service providers exclusively for conference delegates.

“Manufacturing is one of Oman’s best-placed sectors to drive forward the sultanate’s economy and sustainability agendas, and PEIE is in a unique position to help advance this agenda,” suggests Al Ahsani. In addition to the extensive services it offers manufacturers, PEIE also has a wide variety of initiatives designed to support manufacturing, including various business support programmes, such as the annual Smart Manufacturing conference and the quarterly Oman Manufacturing Group meetings. “Indeed, it’s initiatives like the Smart Manufacturing conference that will help ensure that Oman’s manufacturing sector continues to flourish,” remarks PEIE’s CEO.

Blog contents copyright © 2006 PEIE

Saturday, June 07, 2008

PEIE Says Gen Y Are Environmentally Aware

Consumers across the globe are quick to identify polluting companies as ‘socially irresponsible’ and make their purchasing decisions accordingly, claims a recent survey. The poll also found that Generation Y consumers - typically characterized as people born after 1980 - will spend more of their money with organic and environmentally conscious companies than any other age group.

The survey, by the research firm Global Market Insite, quizzed more than 15,000 online consumers in 17 countries about their socially conscious business practices.

When asked which factors were the most important in determining if a business is socially responsible consumers placed importance on corporate community involvement; ‘contributing to the community’ (sponsorship, grants and employee volunteer programs) and environmentally preferable practices (recycling and using biodegradable products) as top factors.

In preparation for the forthcoming Oman Manufacturing Group (OMG) seminar, to be held at the Muscat Inter-Continental Hotel, Monday 9 June at 7:30pm, PEIE’s Marketing Team conducted informal research which revealed that a significant number of Oman-based consumers rate giving back to the community as a top priority in recognizing socially responsible companies. “This shows that people want to feel connected to each other and they’re willing to reward businesses, local as well as international, who tap into this sense of mutual support and belonging. It is concerns like these that will be discussed at Monday night’s OMG seminar,” says Ibtisam Al Faruji, Head of Marketing at the Public Establishment for Industrial Estates (PEIE) and organizer of the quarterly OMG seminar program.

“From a PEIE perspective, and given today’s interest in the environment, particularly amongst the youth, Oman-based manufacturers need to think more about their green credentials as core to their business and brand and central to how they market themselves,” remarks Al Faruji.

According to PEIE’s Head of Marketing, Oman’s Generation Y is environmentally conscious, this is expected given that many are aware of the issues surrounding globalization and trade and how this can negatively affect the sultanate’s environment. “A large number of the young people we polled are prepared to pay more for socially responsible products and services. Indeed, over 30 per cent said they would be more inclined to work for a ‘green’ company, while 60 per cent believe their current employer should be doing more to improve its environmental performance,” says Al Faruji.

Blog contents copyright © 2006 PEIE

Wednesday, June 04, 2008

Manufacturing's Carbon Footprint

Our reliance on fossil fuels, the development of cities, the destruction of natural habitat for farmland and the exploitation of the oceans are destroying the earth's ability to sustain life, warns a recent World Wildlife Fund (WWF) report.

The biggest consumers of non-renewable natural resources are the United States, Australia, the UAE, Kuwait and Sweden, who leave the biggest ‘ecological footprint,’ claims the WWF environmental report. “We’re currently consuming 20 percent more natural resources than the planet can produce,” says Ibtisam Al Faruji, Head of Marketing at the Public Establishment for Industrial Estates (PEIE).

“We’re running up an ecological debt which we won't be able to pay off unless we restore the balance between our consumption of natural resources and the earth's ability to renew them. This is the very reason why PEIE’s Oman Manufacturing Group (OMG) is holding a Green Manufacturing seminar and dinner at the Muscat Inter-Continental Hotel on 9 June at 7:30pm,” comments Al Faruji. Given the importance of the topic and with high profile speakers from Reem Batteries, Tabreed Oman, Shell, PDO and Five Oceans Environmental Services, Al Faruji expects Monday night’s free-of-charge seminar to attract a large audience.

The WWF document suggests that the world’s 6.1 billion people leave a collective footprint of 33.36 billion acres, 5.44 acres per person. To allow the Earth to regenerate, the average should be no more than 4.45 acres. “Let’s just consider some of the figures,” says PEIE’s Head of Marketing. “Between 1961 and 2001 use of fossil fuels such as coal, gas and oil increased by almost 700 per cent and the populations of land, freshwater and marine species fell on average by 40 per cent. Moreover, between 1970 and 2000 the earth's forest cover shrank by 12 per cent. These statistics are a wake-up call. We need to reduce our CO2 emissions. If we don't act, annual temperatures could rise by 1.5°c by 2020 and 4.5°c by 2080. It seems things are getting worse faster than experts had expected. We’re entering uncharted territory. We hope that Monday night’s OMG seminar will go some way to explaining how our manufacturers can reduce the size of their carbon footprint.”

To attend the free-of-charge seminar send your name and contact co-ordinates to:
Blog contents copyright © 2006 PEIE

Sunday, June 01, 2008

PEIE Talks Green

With the announcement that Siberia and the Arctic Circle have started to melt, preventing climate change is increasingly a priority. Research from the World Wildlife Fund shows that if everyone on the planet continues to consume natural resources and generate carbon dioxide at current rates, we will eventually need three planets the size of Earth to support us.

In recognition of the global concern about environmental issues, an Oman Manufacturing Group (OMG) seminar dedicated to "greening" Oman’s manufacturing sector will take at Muscat Inter-Continental Hotel, Monday 9 June at 7:30pm. Hosted by the Public Establishment for Industrial Estates (PEIE), the seminar has been designed to present local industry with a platform on which to share practical and profitable environmental solutions.

“The time is right for an OMG meeting that addresses environmental issues and provides those at the forefront the opportunity to explore their own processes and encourage others to follow suit,” stated Nasser Al Rahbi, PEIE’s Media Co-ordinator. “Recycled materials and environmentally friendly manufacturing techniques can make the difference for many consumers. In fact, a number of companies are marketing their environmental consciousness and doing right for the planet with their green initiatives. Some of these green initiatives will be discussed by OMG panelists," comments Al Rahbi.

“Today, we have more and more people who are trying to make the earth a healthier place to live and work. Manufacturers across the globe are working with recycled materials, as well as focusing on their use of electricity and water and on how they dispose of waste material,” says Ibtisam Al Faruji, PEIE’s Head of Marketing.

With confirmed speakers from Tabreed Oman, PDO, Shell, Reem Batteries and Five Oceans Environmental Services (Simon Wilson - pictured) the OMG seminar is intended to create awareness of climate change and manufacturing’s commitment to the environment. “Engaging people at different levels is key to changing mindsets. We hope Monday’s OMG seminar will help facilitate a change in how manufacturers think about the environment and how decisions are made,” says PEIE’s Head of Marketing.

Blog contents copyright © 2006 PEIE

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Green Manufacturing - 9 June

The news is filled with stories about climate change and the creation of a low carbon economy. According to recent research, globally manufacturing accounts for a sizeable share of total greenhouse gas emissions. In the US, it represents 20% of domestic direct emissions and is indirectly responsible for another 11% due to electricity use, suggests a report published by the Pew Centre on Global Climate Change.
In a response to increased domestic interest in climate change, carbon emissions and renewable energy, and with confirmed speakers from Shell, PDO and Tabreed Oman, the Public Establishment for Industrial Estate’s (PEIE) forthcoming Oman Manufacturing Group (OMG) meeting scheduled to be held at the Muscat Inter-Continental Hotel on 9 June at 7:30pm will focus on green manufacturing. “June’s OMG session will offer Omani manufacturers and those connected to the sector a chance to get the facts and understand how they can go green and save money,” says Ibtisam Al Faruji, PEIE’s Head of Marketing.

The financial, PR and competitive benefits of implementing efficiency improvements have manufacturers and retailers scrambling to hop on the green bandwagon. “Smart new technologies and strategies for gaining energy efficiency and reducing carbon emissions are springing up everywhere,” says Nasser Al Rahbi, PEIE’s Media Co-ordinator (pictured). “Solar and wind power are certainly becoming popular choices among many manufacturing and retail businesses to reduce emissions and facility costs,” remarks Al Rahbi.

Although some manufacturers find that simple changes in lighting and heating and cooling practices can yield huge savings when implemented factory-wide or enterprise-wide, many companies are taking their initiatives beyond ‘low hanging fruit’. For example, US-based Macy’s department store is installing solar roof tiles on 28 of its stores in California. The 8.9-megawatt system covers more than 800,000 sq ft with 45,000 panels and will reduce carbon emissions by 195 million pounds over 30 years - the equivalent of removing about 19,500 cars from the road.
”It is encouraging to see how many Oman-based organizations are keen to reduce their carbon footprint and implement energy saving initiatives,” smiles Al Rahbi. Omani manufacturers want to demonstrate they are green to their customers, employees and stakeholders. By doing so, they will not only deliver energy and financial savings, but also reduce carbon emissions. “Innovative approaches to reducing emissions abound – and the possibilities seem to be limited only by willpower and imagination.,” remarks PEIE’s Media Co-ordinator.

Blog contents copyright © 2006 PEIE

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

150 Kilometre Meal Big Hit With Diners

There’s a price to pay for every item of food we buy in the supermarket and that price is not just how much it costs in Rials but also the environmental cost involved in transporting that produce. “Food has to travel from where it’s grown, processed, packaged and finally ending up on our supermarket shelves. This process can involve thousands of kilometres and that has a negative impact on our environment,” suggests Ibtisam Al Faruji, PEIE’s Marketing Director, and the woman spearheading the government’s Origin Oman marketing campaign.

In an effort to promote local produce, goods and services and highlight the environmental impact of food kilometres, the Origin Oman campaign, in partnership with the Oman Tourism College (OTC), organized the 150 Kilometre Meal at the OTC campus on Monday and Tuesday evening. Over 120 people were offered the choice of two menus that included: a starter of shourba (wheat soup Omani style), followed by Nizwani smoked goat sausage on white cabbage accompanied by mashed potatoes and roasted onions. For desert, diners were offered Omani date mousse. Menu two consisted of: tomato soup with croutons, followed by a main dish of salted cod fish with slices of onions, tomatoes and lemon juice on Omani khoobs. Dessert was Kabeesa. Both menus were prepared by a team of Omani male and female OTC chefs. “The smoked Nizwani sausage and date mousse were outstanding. The presentation and service were excellent and the OTC staff very attentive. It was a great night that really opened my eyes to the excellence of Omani cuisine.” comments David Rogers, (pictured) Director of Swimming at the British School Muscat (BSM).

The 150 Kilometre Meal has been designed to draw the public’s attention to the wonderful variety and extraordinary possibilities of local fare. “By organizing initiatives like the 150 Kilometre Meal we hope to have a positive impact on where and how people spend their money. The aim is simple, make people think twice when shopping and selecting their purchases,” says PEIE’s Hamida Al Balushi and the 150 Kilometre Meal co-ordinator.

The Origin Oman campaign is important on a number of social, economic and environmental fronts. “Indeed, irrespective of whether you’re a regular consumer or an institutional buyer it’s imperative that we begin to think Omani and consider where we spend our Rials,” remarks Al Balushi.

“By buying local – and using services of Omani origin we are putting money into the local economy, helping create local jobs, making a commitment to our community and without doubt benefiting the environment by reducing the size of our carbon footprint,” comments the BSM Director of Swimming.

Blog contents copyright © 2006 PEIE

Friday, May 23, 2008

Origin Oman Expo Says Think Local

Oman may be a country filled with international brands and sprawling shopping malls. But according to Origin Oman, a newly-launched government campaign designed to encourage consumers, businesses and institutional buyers to think local first, it is also a place where shoppers are surprisingly loyal to local businesses, products and services.

Ibtisam Al Faruji, Director of Marketing at the Public Establishment for Industrial Estates (PEIE) and the woman spearheading Origin Oman’s marketing comments: “The campaign aims to capitalize on the loyalty that already exists and to get more people in Oman to think local first. It is through events like the Origin Oman Exhibition scheduled to be held in the grounds of LuLu Hypermatket in Ghubra, 25 – 29 May that local businesses and government organizations are joining forces with us to appeal to peoples’ civic pride and to show off not only how good locally produced goods and services are but to emphasize the considerable benefits they bring to the country.”

“Our goal is modest,” says Al Faruji: “We’re highlighting the quality of locally made products and services and urging consumers to shop locally because it benefits our community.” The campaign is also about promoting such concepts as fostering a sustainable local economy, job creation, reducing our carbon footprint and preserving Oman’s unique character.

Over 50 companies will participate in the Origin Oman exhibition which will showcase local artisans and manufacturers of everything from candles, furniture, shoes, tea and ceramic tiles to water. “The idea is to get people to think more about where their Rials are being spent and what it means to the local community,” says PEIE’s Zuhair Al Zadjali and Origin Oman Exhibition Co-ordinator: “There are a lot of people who want to maintain the unique character of their neighbourhoods and towns. Having a flourishing local business sector is key to that.”

The campaign believes that nurturing local business can bring substantial economic rewards, create all important job opportunities, spread more money around the sultanate and help reduce CO2 emissions. Indeed, a recent US study found that for every US$100 local busineses brought in through sales, they returned US$68 to the local economy through wages and benefits, purchase of goods and services like office supplies, IT, accounting and advertising, profits to local owners and charitable giving. “Statistics like these clearly illustrate the power that consumers have in influencing the growth of local business,” says Al Zadjali.

“If the Origin Oman campaign can influence even 10 percent more consumers to spend their money on locally produced goods and servics, that'll have a significant impact,” says Hamida Al Balushi, Marketing Officer at PEIE and Co-ordinator of the Origin Oman 150 Kilometre Meal project. "It can make the difference between life and death for local busineses." The message is clear says Al Faruji: “It's time to think, buy and eat local.”

Blog contents copyright © 2006 PEIE

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

150 KM Meal Puts Local Food on the Menu

The demand for local produce is on the rise. Recent market research show that 70% of consumers worldwide now want to buy local and 49% want to buy more local produce than they do at the moment. “Given this demand, more local produce is going to show up in greater quantity on Omani supermarket shelves and in restaurants and that’s great news for consumers and for all of us involved in the Origin Oman Campaign,” says Ibtisam Al Faruji, Marketing Director, Public Establishment for Industrial Estates (PEIE) and the woman spearheading the Origin Oman marketing campaign (

According to the PEIE Marketing Director: “Local produce like, pomegranate, sea salt and goat sausage start out as exotic or niche offerings and then move into the mainstream based on consumer demand for variety, premium products and healthy foods.”

Indeed, Hamida Al Balushi, organizer of Origin Oman’s 150 Kilometre Meal scheduled to be held at the Oman Tourism College on May 26 and 27, has been studying the evolution of food popularity. "Stage one is something we see in fine dining or ethnic food," she says, adding that stage two is specialty-food-oriented retail and media channels, like the gourmet magazines we pick up in local supermarkets. Stage three finds the item in mainstream local restaurants and retail stores targeting recreational cooks and food lovers. Stage four finds such products getting general market coverage in family and women's magazines. Finally, by stage five the product would be showing up in supermarkets or on fast-food menus either as a stand-alone product, flavouring or functional food.

The key reasons driving the demand for local produce seem to be that today’s consumer wants to know more about how their food has been produced. They also care about food safety, traceability, provenance and animal welfare. “Oman-based shoppers of all nationalities, also want freshness and to have a sense of food tasting like it should or used to do,” remarks Al Faruji. Both Al Faruji and Al Balushi are upbeat about the 150 Kilometre Meal initiative and the importance of sourcing produce locally. “There’s so much more to the 150 Kilometre Meal project than simply focusing on reducing greenhouse gas emissions. There are other win-wins out there. Buying locally, with more money flowing into the local economy, is good for the whole community. There will hopefully be less packaging and the food will be fresher and healthier as well,” suggests Al Balushi.

To reserve your free place at the 150 Kilometre Meal e-mail your name and contact co-ordinates to hamida.albalushi@peie.omBlog contents copyright © 2006 PEIE

Thursday, May 15, 2008

Origin Oman Expo 25 - 29 May

“There’s a lot of excitement in the Origin Oman Team about our forthcoming ‘Think Local’ Exhibition which is going to be held in the grounds of the Al Khuwair LuLu Hypermarket, 25 – 29 May,” says Ibtisam Al Faruji, Director of Marketing at the Public Establishment for Industrial Estates (PEIE) and organizer of the five day event.

“We’re very proud of this exhibition and we’ve had a terrific response from manufacturers and service providers. The team at Lulu have also been great and we’re very grateful to them for their support,” says PEIE’s Zuhair Al Zadjali and Origin Oman exhibition manager. “There is so much quality being produced in Oman and we want to showcase that excellence. We already have over 50 Omani manufacturers, producers and service providers signed up and ready to use the exhibition to promote their range of quality products and services. They are also keen to take this opportunity to educate and inform consumers, demonstrate their considerable business expertise and of course sell their services and products direct to local buyers. It’s a great way for them to reach out to the community.”

Clearly enthusiastic about the topic Al Zadjali goes on to say: “The notion of local products is not exactly a new principle. Of course, most things start their life produced for local sale but recently there has been a revival of interest in buying goods, food and services from closer to home. It is driven by desire for quality, originality, a concern for the environment and a will to invest in our own communities. This exhibition is a response to that.”

Al Faruji has clear thoughts on what’s behind the resurgence of interest in local products and services: “I think there are a number of issues at play. As Zuhair says we have seen growing concern for the environment and how much transport and energy is required to bring products to market. This is coupled with nostalgia for the kind of relationship that goes hand-in-hand with the selling of local products. Also, the growth of tourism has meant that people exploring our country and culture have taken an interest in locally made products and fare which has fostered the growth in the demand for local goods and services and these are themes that need to be highlighted. Coupled with that people are beginning to realise that ‘Origin Oman’ is a badge that means quality. Just look at, for example, the success of Oman Cables overseas – they’ve been used in Heathrow Airport and in many other world class projects. Al Raha Mattresses enjoy extraordinary international success and Reem Batteries are powering London’s red double decker buses – these are remarkable stories that need to be shared. For me, this exhibition really does feel like the right thing at the right time.”

Visit the Origin Oman Think Local Exhibition from 25-29 May at Al Khuwair. To find out more about the Origin Oman campaign log on to:

Blog contents copyright © 2006 PEIE

Saturday, May 10, 2008

KOM's Digital Nation Looks at

Second Life, the business world’s most rapidly expanding on-line community with a market value of around US$1 billion will be the topic for discussion at Knowledge Oasis Muscat’s forthcoming Digital Nation seminar scheduled to be held at the Muscat Inter-Continental Hotel, 7:45pm, Monday 26 May.

The seminar delivered by David Wortley, Director, Serious Games Institute, Coventry University and Paul Turner, CEO, The Walk in Web Ltd will show how forward thinking companies and governments are making use of Second Life’s rapidly growing online virtual environment and communicating, interacting, trading and remotely collaborating through the internet.

Launched in 2003 there are now over 7 million registered Second Life users and the site is growing at a rate of 10,000 new members each day. Commentators fully expect membership to reach a staggering 25 million by May 2008. Sometimes referred to as the Metaverse, investors behind Linden Labs, creators of Second Life, include the founders of and eBay.

“It’s not just Second Life though” Says Wortley “companies and governments wanting to stay one step ahead of the game recognised a while back that expensive forms of simple brand recognition such as TV advertising is dying, opportunities such as Second Life, YouTube and MySpace are not simply the latest fad, but are here to stay and organizations find them flexible and cheaper. If Oman is to blossom as a high-end tourist destination then it needs to be looking at the opportunities Second Life has offer.”

The sky really is the limit when it comes to how an organization can tap into and benefit commercially from Second Life,” adds Turner. “For example, there’s a company that’s in the process of designing a Football Stadium for a Premiership Club where they will be able to sell all their merchandise to not just the real world but also for people (avatars) to wear and use within Second Life. This might be the first club to do so but others will surely follow. There are other firms that are helping government-run tourist authorities replicate their tourism resorts in which visitors to Second Life can enjoy all the same facilities such as hiring rooms, eating in restaurants and enjoying the nightlife. The marketing logic is simple, you enjoy the experience in Second Life then you’ll be tempted to visit the real place.”

To reserve your free seat at KOM’s Digital Nation Seminar and dinner and learn how your organization could embrace Second Life then simply e-mail and your name and contact co-ordinates to:

Blog contents copyright © 2006 PEIE

Friday, May 09, 2008

BBIC 2008 Gets More Backing

Young Omanis have the chance to win RO5,000 and 12 months rent free office accommodation in The Knowledge Mine business incubator program if they enter the TKM – Ernst & Young Big Business Idea Competition which was launched recently at Knowledge Oasis Muscat (KOM) by the Park’s Director General, Mohammed Al Maskari and KOM’s Head of Marketing, Ibtisam Al Faruji.

Al Maskari comments: “The TKM – Ernst & Young Big Business Idea Competition seeks to nurture the entrepreneurial spirit amongst Oman’s youth so that they are equipped with business and commercial awareness for their future careers whether they be in academia, business or the public sector. If we’re to bridge the productivity gap which currently exists between this region and the rest of the world, we have to increase business start-ups and entrepreneurialism. That’s why competitions like this are so important.”

Backed by Ernst & Young, Knowledge Horizon, Infocomm, Ericsson, NCR, Intilaaqah, OER and Sanad this is the third year that the competition has been held and according to Abeer Al Jasim, Head of Professional Qualifications, Knowledge Horizon: “This is a unique nation-wide competition aimed at inspiring people to be enterprising and to turn their business ideas into something real. We’re absolutely delighted to be part of that. Any initiative that promotes Oman’s start-up culture has to be welcomed. In fact, I’ve watched the competition grow in stature over the past few years and felt now was a good time for Knowledge Horizon to get involved.”

A series of start-up workshops will be delivered by the competition’s supporters, including Knowledge Horizon, and these will cover themes like writing a business plan; the importance of technology to start-ups; small business finance; developing a business idea; and presentation skills.

Al Faruji adds: “The competition provides an exciting opportunity for Omani entrepreneurs to enhance their personal and professional skills and develop business acumen which will improve their career opportunities. We’re very keen to encourage Omani research students and post-docs to take part in this initiative in order to develop greater commercial awareness and I'm sure the first prize of RO5,000 plus free office accommodation for 12 months will be a wonderful inducement.”

The TKM–Ernst & Young Big Business Idea Competition has been helping to raise the profile of start-up and spin-out organisations since its inception in 2006 by providing valuable exposure for growing businesses and access to a wide range of resources, advice and guidance through its workshop programme and networking activities. The competition is free of charge and open to all Omani nationals. The competition’s closing date is 7 July and application forms can be downloaded from

Blog contents copyright © 2006 PEIE

Wednesday, May 07, 2008

2008 Big Business Idea Competition Launched

Entries to the TKM–Ernst & Young Big Business Idea Competition, the largest technology-focused business plan competition in the Gulf region, opened at Knowledge Oasis Muscat (KOM) yesterday at a press conference led by Mohammed Al Maskari, Director General KOM and Ibtisam Al Faruji, KOM’s Head of Marketing. Backed by Ernst & Young, Knowledge Horizon, Infocomm, Ericsson, NCR (pictured left), Intilaaqah, Sanad and OER this is the third year that the competition has been held and according to Mulkie Al Hashmi, KOM Marketing Officer: “We’re looking forward to receiving a record number of entries this year.”

“We’ll be organizing a series of workshops for those interested in entering the competition. These will be delivered by our supporters and will cover themes like writing a business plan; the importance of ICT to start-ups; small business finance; developing a business idea; and presentation skills.

The competition offers two prizes of RO5,000 each to the winning and runner up business plan. The competition’s winner and runner up are also given 12 months rent free office accommodation in The Knowledge Mine business incubator program based at KOM.

“The Infocomm team is delighted to be part of the TKM – Ernst & Young Big Business Idea Competition, any initiative that promotes entrepreneurship in the sultanate must be welcomed. Past entries have come in from teams, new companies, students and entrepreneurs dotted around the country. I know the KOM management are very happy with the quality of business plans that have been submitted and the winners from previous years are already taking advantage of the incubator facilities at KOM. It’s a great initiative,” commented Karim Rahemtulla, MD, Infocomm.

The TKM–Ernst & Young Big Business Idea Competition is not just about the competition itself. Former entrants have used the event as a launch pad to raise investment for their ventures, and the competition’s finalists, particularly, benefit from the high-profile media exposure they receive at the annual Gala Dinner, which provides them with instant access to an audience of influential business personalities seeking new investment opportunities.

One company that has benefited in this way is Qumreiyat who is developing a dynamic tourism portal. Qumreyat’s Zawan Al Sabti was one of three responsible for presenting the prize-winning pitch at the 2006 final, she says: “The competition provided our start-up with a great opportunity. We were able to present our initial ideas on business strategy and receive valuable feedback from experienced professionals on how best to take the company forward. Since presenting at the 2006 final the team has gone from strength to strength.”

Majid Al Yaqoobi of Real Reflection, an e-survey company, and runners up at last year’s event agrees that the competition provides an invaluable opportunity for young Omani entrepreneurs. “Real Reflection has attracted a significant amount of interest since we took up residency in TKM. The competition provided the focus we needed to refine our business plan and strategy. The document we produced to enter the competition was a valuable starting point on which to build the broader plan for the company’s launch. Our appearance at last year’s final clearly raised our profile to a national level, something we couldn’t have achieved on our own.”

Mohammed Al Maskari, KOM’s Director General and organiser of the TKM - Ernst & Young Big Business Idea Competition added: “The quality of entries is high and our experienced judges are not easily impressed, so getting to the final is a significant achievement, and one which is recognised by potential investors.”

The TKM–Ernst & Young Big Business Idea Competition has been helping to raise the profile of start-up and spin-out organisations since its inception in 2006 by providing valuable exposure for growing businesses and access to a wide range of resources, advice and guidance through its workshop programme and networking activities. The competition is free of charge and open to all Omani nationals. The competition’s closing date is 7 July and application forms can be downloaded from

Blog contents copyright © 2006 PEIE

Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Origin Oman's 150 Kilometre Meal Initiative

“When the average Oman based citizen sits down to eat, each ingredient has typically travelled at least 1,500 kilometres” says Ibtisam Al Faruji of PEIE and the woman spearheading the recently-launched Origin Oman campaign ( “Our local products are excellent and we want to get people putting them on their plates on a more regular basis. Our goal is simple, we want to raise public awareness of locally produced food as well as highlight the environmental impact of transporting food long distances. It just makes sense,” she adds.

To get this idea into practice and show exactly how good local produce is, on the evening of 25 and 26 May, the Oman Tourism College in partnership with the Origin Oman campaign will host the ‘150 Kilometre Meal’. “The goal is to stick to ingredients grown or made within 150 kilometres of the College,” says Dietrich Repolusk (pictured), lecturer in Nutrition and International Cuisine at the college and the man responsible for planning the dinner menu along with his Omani students. ”We fully expect a sell out crowd of 60 diners each night who will feast on a meal featuring locally sourced ingredients,” says confident Repolusk.

Repolusk, an Austrian national who has been in the food and travel business for over 30 years and is an accomplished chef said: “I’m passionate about locally grown food. Eating closer to home is both safer and healthier. Food is a living, breathing entity and the fresher the food, the better it is for you. If people made the effort to make even 10% of their diet local, it would have a huge impact on the environment, the domestic economy and our communities," says Repolusk.

“Eating local isn't just about health,” he continues. “It’s also about quality. I recently had the greatest local tomatoes. They were so unbelievably sweet and delicious. Better still they didn't sit on a truck for three weeks, frozen. And as for Omani honey and the fruit from Jebel Akhdar, well, they’re exceptional.”

Origin Oman’s Ibtisam agrees. “Speaking of honey, I always like to use the honey analogy when I talk about the taste of local food," she says. “The bees visit the local flora. We smell the air and our senses and our taste buds are attuned, so when we buy local honey, it tastes better because we’re smelling and tasting something familiar. They also say eating honey from where you live helps combat allergies.”

But isn’t eating locally sourced produce more expensive? Repolusk thinks not. “Most of us pay a premium for out-of-season foods like cherries in winter or prepared foods like spaghetti sauce, usually with a long list of ingredients we might prefer not to have in our bodies. Eating locally, you can buy fresh ingredients in season direct from the market or the farmer – and to save money you can buy in bulk. Freeze the food you don’t need straight away. In my opinion, most people eating a typical diet could save money by eating locally.” Ibtisam agrees, “There are places where it's easier and places where it's harder, but with a little planning, local eating is never impossible. And if you’re looking to save money don’t forget that a lot of products made in Oman are the same quality as imported stuff and often cheaper. It’s worth reconsidering the brands you buy.”

The ‘150 Kilometre Meal’ is one of the many initiatives that make up this year’s Origin Oman campaign. Look out also for: the Origin Oman Exhibition 25 - 29 May at Lulu Hypermarket and check out the Origin Oman website for more information on the campaign and its initiatives.

Blog contents copyright © 2006 PEIE

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Origin Oman Makes Front Cover Story

The Origin Oman campaign made front cover news in the most recent edition of The Week. Ceri Edwards' story is pasted below.

When sitting down on a Friday afternoon for a hearty family meal, do you ever stop to think about where your food might have come from? For most of us, the answer is no, but a new campaign called Origin Oman, run by Public Establishment for Industrial Estates (PEIE) wants to encourage more people in the sultanate to consider just this. Dave Pender, Advisor, PEIE, explained that in recent years, the distance food travels from producer to the dining table has increased by around 50 per cent. This means that, for example, the ingredients of your next meal could have potentially travelled as much as 40,000km to reach a plate in front of you. If this distance was to be reduced, there would be potential for numerous social, environmental and economic benefits, including the reduction of carbon emissions, job creation, increased community spirit and financial gain.

In order to raise awareness about the need to reduce food travel distance, an initiative under the umbrella of Origin Oman, the 150km meal has been organised as part of Origin Oman Week, between May 25-29, in tandem with key hotels in the country and the Oman Tourism College, where dishes will be created using ingredients that have travelled no more than 150km. “The idea behind the 150km meal is to present information regarding the benefits of locally sourced produce in a novel way, which in turn gets people thinking and raises awareness,” said Ibtisam Al Faruji, Head of Marketing, PEIE.

However, this initiative is just the icing on the cake. Origin Oman is a rolling campaign, which began in January 2008 and its goal is to promote, not only locally sourced food stuffs, but also technology, manpower as well as many other products and services. Without detracting from the quality of importing products and services from abroad, utilising talent and resources from within the country can help to reduce our carbon footprints, thus helping the environment, as well as simultaneously helping to make Oman a more sustainable place.Moreover, the multi-faceted campaign is not solely concentrated on ‘Joe Consumer’, but also on organisations that could become more socially responsible as a result of sourcing locally. “People sometimes just need to be made aware of what is available,” Ibtisam explained.

As well as the 150km meal concept, Origin Oman has a calendar of initiatives that will be implemented to help raise consumer consciousness. For example, a debate will be held later this month between several colleges and universities in the sultanate to discuss the importance of ‘Made in Oman’ products and services as well as what contributions students can make to the future success of the country.“Oman’s future is its youth and if we can get the message across to them, that is a positive step,” she added. In addition, Origin Oman will be launching a competition for students, enrolled in Oman-based tertiary colleges, to design a logo for the campaign. “By encapsulating the idea of locally-made goods and services in a logo, we are promoting national pride in contestants as well as giving consumers the opportunity to choose products that could help their country and the environment,” Dave added.

Other initiatives in the pipeline include the Origin Oman Week exhibition, which will be held at the car park of Lulu hypermarket, Bausher. At the event, companies and organisations from a number of industries, including fashion, travel, technology and education, will be showcasing their wares and services, providing free samples and giving informative demonstrations. With these initiatives and more planned to help consumers realise that buying locally could be beneficial at a number of levels, it is hoped that people will now shop with more awareness of the quality of products and services Oman has to offer.

Origin Oman logo competition The Origin Oman logo competition was officially launched at PEIE’s head office at Knowledge Oasis Muscat on April 20 to design a logo for the campaign. The competition is open to Oman-based college students of all nationalities. As a guideline, logo entries should take into account the various places it will be used. The closing date for entries is May 20. The winning entry will receive RO500. For more information, go to or email Entries can also be dropped off at the Knowledge Oasis Muscat at KOM Building 1 reception. For more details about Origin Oman, go to

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

KOM to Showcase Start-ups at COMEX

Knowledge Oasis Muscat (KOM) will for the third year running sponsor COMEX (, Oman’s annual flagship ICT exhibition. A KOM Pavilion will be staged at the Oman International Exhibition Centre from 28 April to 2 May 2008.

If you’re looking for ways on how to collaborate with firms on KOM; or to find out about advergaming; web design and web based services; m-Commerce; software design in logistics or WiFi services for the petroleum business then perhaps you should visit the companies exhibiting on the KOM Pavilion. As a sponsor of the event and with a growing modern hi-tech community of over 60 tenants, KOM is gaining momentum as it consolidates its position as one of the Gulf’s leading technology parks.

“We’re totally committed to enhancing KOM’s position and we’re actively seeking opportunities to raise the national and international profile of our tenant community,” commented Mohammed Al Maskari, KOM’s Director General. Al Maskari announced that KOM tenants will present a series of technology briefings from their respective stands. “The briefings are intended to showcase products, services and applications and provide trade visitors with an opportunity to hear about developing technologies and their applications,” says the Park’s Director General.

“Through participating in COMEX, KOM is offered an opportunity to showcase its achievements in the ICT field, and the Government's determination to develop the Sultanate as a leading regional digital centre,” says Ibtisam Al Faruji, KOM’s Head of Marketing. “The exhibition is also a golden opportunity for us to reach audiences we may not ordinarily have access to,” remarks Al Faruji.Singaporean m-Commerce expert, Karim Rahemtulla (pictured) MD, Infocomm ( and one of KOM’s anchor tenants comments: “Our participation on KOM’s pavilion gives us an unique opportunity to showcase our advergaming and mobile commerce solutions and services to both business and consumers. We will also be promoting our community portal. COMEX is an excellent networking event that in the past has helped us initiate a number of new business relationships.”

Asked about developments in mobile phone applications, Rahemtulla says: “It’s booming. From an international perspective, folk in Slovakia are using mobiles to remotely switch on the heat before they get home. Over 1.5 million Norwegians are sending their tax returns by SMS. British paramedics are using camera phones to send ahead to hospitals pictures of incoming injuries; and Japanese construction workers on-site are using cell phones to send pictures to contractors off-site. The SMS space is developing rapidly, we’re very excited about the opportunities it presents.”

According to Al Maskari KOM has several overlapping target groups, we cater for start-ups, SMEs and blue chip multinationals. This year, five companies from the Park’s incubator program – The Knowledge Mine (TKM) – will participate at on KOM’s Pavilion. “In simple terms,” suggests Al Maskari “TKM’s facilities help stimulate and support start-ups who are upgrading or developing new technologies, products or services. We offer start-ups support through high-quality, low-cost office space and technical, business and administrative mentoring services.” TKM’s mentor program is supported by Ericsson; Ernst & Young; KPMG; Towers & Hamlins; and Intilaaqah. “We’re very excited about the participation of TKM’s Hussam Technology; R&D; Trade Max; IT Scope; and Seeb Systems, these are highly creative start-ups that are making their mark in the domestic and regional ICT market,” commented Al Faruji.

Blog contents copyright © 2006 PEIE