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.”

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