Exotic Oman – But we’re not talking Nashville

Exotic Oman – But we're not talking NashvilleFrom checking up on the financial health of your current account in Oman to engaging in daily conversation with your best mate living it up in Muscat, the Omani capital for the geographically challenged, the ease of accessing the online world through laptop, smartphone or tablet has sure made our spinning globe feel a much smaller place.

Standing by now for the chorus of howls about to spread across the planet, which even unfortunates afflicted by tinnitus will surely hardly fail to notice – and that’s putting it politely. Ah…here it comes. What the… Oman? Are you serious? Never heard of the place. Is it somewhere in Alaska? Don’t you mean Oman Street in Nashville? No! Just head over to Google Maps and input Oman in the search box. Know where we are now?

Exotic tourist destination

Yes, that’s right, Oman is pretty much off the beaten tourist trail for most of us and so can rightly be considered exotic. But it’s being ‘discovered’ by many more foreign travellers every year. Indeed, capturing foreign currency in the form of US dollars, UK pounds, Swiss francs or the Indian rupee is big business in Oman. In 2012, for example, tourism accounted for something like 7% of GDP, or roughly $5.2 billion.

In anticipation of an ever larger slice of the GDP pie being generated by tourism over the rest of the decade, hotel building in the country is having to keep pace with the ever-growing demand, adding an expected 3,000 rooms by the end of this year alone.

Rise of mobile broadband

The Internet, and particularly broadband, is another big earner in the country with the two main providers, Omantel and Nawras, slugging it out for available revenues. According to the Oxford Business Group (OBG),  the two operators are active in all areas of the market, providing telephone and internet services via both mobile devices and fixed-line connections.

Of the 5.3 million mobile subscribers, Omantel accounts for 49% and Nawras 41%, with the balance made up by re-sellers, according to the most recent data from the Telecommunications Regulatory Authority (TRA).

The number of mobile broadband subscribers has more than quadrupled over the past few years, jumping from 425,000 in 2009 to 1.9 million as of March 2013, says the TRA. This equates to a mobile broadband penetration rate of 52.43%, suggesting substantial room for growth in the market.

Expanding healthcare

Oman is looking to boost its healthcare sector with both public and private funding being channelled into the creation of ever-better facilities offering greater choice for the country’s citizens. Centre stage will be the construction of the massive $1 billion International Medical City project in Salalah, which is being overseen by the Saudi-based Apex Medical Group.

The project, says ConstructionWeekOnline, is designed to position Oman as a global medical tourism hub and will feature three major components – a healthcare resort with staff accommodations, healthcare complex, and healthcare education complex – built over two phases. The centrepiece will be a 530-bed multi-tertiary hospital catering to no less than 21 different specialities. Check out the whole ConstructionWeekOnline article here.

Editorial Team
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