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