Muscat: SOHAR Freezone Chief Executive Officer Jamal Aziz has declared SOHAR to be the most important link in Oman's commercial logistics industry and a 'vital contributor' to the diversification and globalisation of the economy. The CEO's comments come following a remarkable period of growth over the past six months, and just weeks before the much-anticipated relocation of all commercial traffic from Muscat to SOHAR.
"In just six months, we have expanded almost every aspect of our operations, including the US$130 million relocation and expansion of the Oman International Container Terminal and a US$2.5 million investment to connect infrastructure that has cut turnaround times at Oiltanking Odfjell's oil and gas storage facilities."
Cargo volumes rise
"Cargo volumes continue to grow at a rate beyond the 50 million tonnes per year that we have witnessed in recent years, and we are also seeing growth in industries beyond those that were originally set up when SOHAR was launched as a joint venture with the Port of Rotterdam back in 2002," Aziz explained.
"As such, SOHAR is not only at the forefront of the global shipping industry, it is vital to Oman's future."
As part of the company's mid-year review, Aziz highlighted plans for a national food reserve and dedicated agricultural terminal, as well as air and rail links, as an indication of the bright future. He also reflected on how a deal with one of Oman's largest business houses, Saud Bahwan, will see SOHAR's automotive cluster grow to 200,000 cars annually – bringing global manufacturers Lexus, Kia, Ford, Toyota, and Daihatsu to the region. Nissan and BMW are already represented at SOHAR by Suhail Bahwan.
Having witnessed sustained interest in SOHAR's core business areas – petrochemicals, metals, and logistics, including a US$60 million agreement with a UK-led consortium to build the largest rare earth metals plant of its kind outside of China – Aziz emphasised the sustainability that is driving growth and creating jobs.
"The tremendous work that has gone into growing the business during the first half of this year is no flash in the pan. There is a very clear strategy to what we are trying to achieve, and all of the markets that we are entering are growing with exceptional speed. This will be important as we consolidate progress over the course of the next decade. It will also become the cornerstone of job creation at SOHAR," he further said.
Meanwhile, in the light of SOHAR's commitment to building a sustainable logistical hub that will assist Oman in achieving its Vision 2020 objective of globalising the economy, Aziz concluded by discussing how an international marketing campaign launched in May has seen great strides being taken towards this goal.
"Our ability to reach global audiences has been greatly accelerated by the global marketing campaign that we launched in May. This campaign has already achieved a number of milestones following the launch of a new brand identity for SOHAR Port and Freezone back in January. Nearly 40,000 unique visitors viewed nearly 100,000 web pages in the first two months of the campaign, and the Port's social media accounts have also seen over 150,000 YouTube hits and nearly 10,000 twitter followers in the same period."
The international campaign is one of a number of initiatives aimed at engaging key markets in developed and emerging economies, including the United States, European Union, China, India, Brazil, Japan, Korea, and the Middle East.