Story Gautam Viswanathan
Oman is currently actively pursuing its non-oil future, and Duqm is set to be the heart and lungs of this new, diversified economy. A host of new heavy and light manufacturing industries, logistics companies, marine operations and tourist organisations have either set up or are planning to set up shop in Duqm, and the organisation that is responsible for developing this small town into a well-developed city, SEZAD, the Special Economic Zone Authority at Duqm, is seeking companies that can add value to the city, and to Oman.
According to data released by SEZAD, there were a total of 84 building permits issued in the first half of 2019 alone, more than the number of permits issued throughout all of 2018 (82). Of these, 29 were issued for residential and commercial operations, a further 17 industrial permits were issued, and 18 office permits were provided.
In addition, there were eight service-based permits, five for labour camps, and three permits awarded to both the tourism and logistics sectors. Having entered 2020, SEZAD have released a step-by-step procedure regarding setting up businesses in the Special Economic Zone in Duqm (SEZD).
Learn about the Special Economic Zone in Duqm and its investment environment
In order to make it easier for investors, there are few easy and simple steps to help investors set up their investment projects in the special economic zone. Learning about the SEZ, its geographical location, investment opportunities, exemptions, and benefits for investors, investment-regulating legislations mark the first step that an investor should take into consideration to evaluate the economic viability of his project so it meets the objectives of his investment.
It is important for an investor to review the legislations of investment in SEZD and in particular, Royal Decree No. 2011/119, establishing SEZAD and issuing its regulations dated on 26 October 2011 and the Royal Decree No. 2013/79, which issued SEZAD’s regulations.
Any investor is urged to familiarise himself with the laws and regulations of investment in the SEZD and the other legislation relating to the different sectors in which he wants to invest, including the Tourism Law, Mining Law, Standard Industrial Law and other regulations issued in accordance with these laws.
Investors can review the legislations and regulations issued by SEZAD on its website: www.duqm.gov.om. They can also collect a copy of SEZAD’s Encyclopedia of Legislations from the one-stop shop or its Media and Awareness Department.
Describe your investment project and determine its requirements
Any investor should prepare a description of the proposed investment project so that he can assess its economic feasibility and find out the necessary requirements. This step is highly important and helps the SEZAD team evaluate the business proposal and guide the investor to the appropriate investment opportunity in the Special Economic Zone.
The description shall include as minimum the following details, depending on the type of project:
• Description of the project’s concept, objectives, and components.
• Capital, size of investment, and sources of financing.
• Required land area, purpose of use, expected construction area, and project facilities.
• Project schedule, including the expected date and timeline of construction, and the start date for commercial operations.
• Human resources required for the project during construction and after starting commercial operations, in the form of the numbers of Omanis and expats.
• Estimate for the project’s requirements of services: electricity (kW/month), water (m3/month), and gas (m3/month).
• Expected environmental impact of the project, if any, and potential waste, its expected quantities, and ways of treatment, such as sewage operations (m3/month).
• Any other important details of the project that would help the investor to make a decision.
Determine the appropriate legal setup of your project
The project can be registered in SEZD through one of the following legal versions:
• A new sole proprietorship establishment.
• A new trading company, which can take any of the legal forms specified in the Commercial Companies Law and the new version updated in 2019, which includes the sole trader company.
• Branch of a sole proprietorship establishment or local trading company based outside SEZD.
• Branch of a sole proprietorship or an international trading company based outside Oman.
Complete your application through SEZAD’s one-stop shop
The investor can register a project in SEZAD’s commercial register through the following methods:
• Direct e-registration via Invest Easy Portal on https://www.business.gov.om. This option is available only to Omanis and residents and requires completion of electronic certification procedures before using the service.
• Filling in the application form and submitting the hard copy to SEZAD’s one-stop shop in Duqm or Muscat.
• Sanad offices.
• Legal consulting offices accredited by the Ministry of Commerce and Industry.
• There are many documents investors need to submit along with the investment application form.
• For services outside SEZAD’s main responsibility, the organisation shall collect the same fee payable to the organisation to which the investor would need to go to, in order to complete this process. This will be governed by the relevant laws that were established for the carrying out of these processes.
• SEZAD shall impose an administrative fine of 10 percent of the fee on each person who fails to pay the fee due for each month of delay. The fine is charged a month after the due date.
•Fees for services provided to SMEs, fully owned by Omanis and registered with the Public Authority for Small and Medium Enterprises Development (Riyada), shall be only 50 per cent of the fees specified.