Oman and Iran had sealed a $60 billion gas agreement that would allow Muscat to purchase natural gas from Tehran for 25 years. The two countries are to build gas pipelines in two years. The subsea gas pipeline will guarantee Oman 20 million cubic meters of gas from Iran.
Oman first agreed to purchase natural gas from Iran in 2005, but due to western sanctions regarding Iran’s nuclear activity, Oman was forced to purchase gas from other countries such as Qatar and Pakistan at the US’ prescription.
Omani Oil Minister Mohammed bin Hamad al-Rumhy and Iranian Oil Minister Bijan Zanageh had signed a Memorandum of Understanding last year. Oman has closer ties with Iran than any other Arabian country who perceive Iran’s nuclear activities as a national security threat.
Pakistan’s failure to deliver oil and the increasing prices of oil from Qatar had urged Oman to take advantage of the lifted sanctions the UN had granted to Iran after it agreed to scale down its nuclear activities last year. Oman’s increasing energy needs has led it to close a deal with Iran
Meanwhile, Pakistan also eyes Iran to provide for its natural gas needs and Pakistani and Iranian officials are expected to meet next month to discuss proposals for a natural gas deal between the two countries.
The Omani Government plans to make the centuries-famous Jabal Akhdar, or Green Mountain in Omani, a focus of Omani tourism as it allowed several hotel operators to open resorts in the legendary oasis.
One hotel, the 86-room Alila Jabal Akhdar Luxury Hotel, operated by the Alila Group famous in India and in the Asia-Pacific, had opened on May 2014. The design of the property imitated those of traditional Omani houses by using local materials, according to the Alila Jabal Akhdar General Manager Jork Bosselaar.
The hotel operator, along with other luxury hotel operators soon to be in the area, will incorporate elements of local materials and produce. The hotels will get produce from local farmers to have them involved in the greater economy. Bosselaar said the hotel wants to focus on the hospitality by involving local people from the mountain, which will add to the culture and introduce tourists to traditional Omani customs.
Tourists in the region have grown by 12% according to Oman’s Tourism Ministry and they expect the growth to rise by the following year. They estimate the new industry will provide jobs for the 10,000 people in Jabal Akhdar.
Another Hotel, The Sahab, had earned great revenues as room occupancy and demand had increased by 20%. Many other projects are being built by luxury hotel operators, including one hotel with $50 million invested in its construction and implementation.
Oman’s Muscat Airpot has put into commission its new Air Traffic Control Centre. According to Omani media, the centre makes use of state-of-the-art technology to guide aircraft above Muscat and Salalah in support of progressing expansion and modernisation of the respective airports and cities.
Oman Minister of Transport and Communications Dr. Ahmed Mohammed Salem al-Futaisi inaugurated the Transitional Air Traffic Control Centre and said it is a great accomplishment for the civil aviation sector and for the entire country. He said the new addition will support safety in the aviation sector and it would help optimise the use of the Muscat and Salalah airspace.
The ATC has 56-inch monitors with multiple views on a single screen. Spanish contractor Indra had developed the new traffic management system for the country. The contractor is to soon announce the formal operation of the new system in development. According to al-Futaisi, the company will continue to be with the Omani Aviation staff until the entire airports become operational.
He also added that the Omani Civil Aviation staff had also contributed to the designing of the workflow and traffic management systems. The system will be migrated to a new ATC tower in the second phase together with the new runway.
Oman is focusing on developing its dilapidating railways and ports to become globally-competitive and further help increase the country’s income. Omani ports can be linked with other Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) countries and will help integrate the transport system between these countries as an integrated system.
Transport and Communications Minister Doctor Ahmed Mohammed Salim al-Futaisi said that the focus of Oman’s train network will make the transport industry a crucial resource for Oman. Becoming the gateway for the GCC in terms of transporting goods and services, Oman’s profits could increase with better activity in the service industry.
Oman Air may also contribute to the services industry as it opens in the new Omani regional airport at Duqm. The airlines had promised four weekly flights.
Meanwhile, Savannah Resources Plc has acquired interests in the Block 5 and 6 of Oman’s copper projects. The mutli-commodity exploration and development company uses the acquisitions as part of its growth strategy for its own company, and Oman’s enrichment as well.
Copper mining may be the best next industry for Oman as copper supply in the world is increasingly disrupted by mining troubles, decreased investor interest and high costs for major copper-producing countries.
According to an Abu Dhabi network, the Los Angeles-based reef developer Reef Worlds, had announced its interest to start building underwater tourism in Oman to further cultivate its underwater habitat sites. In line with Oman’s increasing push for its tourism industry, the rehabilitation of its underwater habitats is a welcome support.
The underwater tourism design company is considering to create a new and revolutionary tourist spot for Oman, which would guarantee a $3 billion tourism market in underwater habitats and tourism.
Reef Worlds designers expressed the intention of building an ancient Lost City replica underwater, which would help Oman become a focus for dive and snorkel tourism. It would also help Oman’s waters become lively and teeming with life.
Reef Worlds had also said that it wants to create more underwater tourism habitats in Dubai, the Philippines and other parts of the Middle East and Asia to boost the health of the underwater environment and help regional tourism provide more for the economies of the countries.
Dave Taylor, the Development Director of Reef Worlds, said their brand’s focus is to create and sustain a new habitat while providing tourists and people the ability to appreciate what the water world has to offer, besides from beaches and natural snorkelling resorts.
Business Insider had placed Oman Air as one of the top ten airlines for flying Economy Class at 9th Place. This places the airline company together with the industry giants in aviation. Oman Air excels greatly in passenger experience.
Salim Al Kindy, the Acting Chief Executive Officer of Oman Air, welcomed Business Insider’s acknowledgement of Oman Air’s quality. He said “we are proud and delighted that Business Insider has recognised the outstanding quality offered by Oman Air and has listed us as one of the ten best airlines in the world.
Oman Air’s economy class blazed through the criteria of quality of passenger experience, punctuality and the actual performance of its logistics system.
Passenger experience is based upon the covering seat comfort, in-flight entertainment, cabin safety, service efficiency, meal quality and cleanliness.
Oman Air’s economy class provides good spaces between seats, wifi and mobile phone connectivity, and live satellite television with large personal entertainment screens in front of each passenger.
However, the top ten area does not cover whether Oman Air’s airplane technical capabilities surpass other industry giants. The placement of Oman in Business Insider’s top ten tells no indication on how the airline treats passenger baggage and other belongings.
The Royal Navy of Oman had met with the BAE Systems Naval Ships for the reception of the Al Khareef Project in the United Kingdom. Oman is to receive the Al Rasikh, a new warship, along with others. The vessel will be the last vessel of the Al Khareef Project and the Sultanate. Top officers from the Royal Navy of Oman and executives from the Sultanates and the Project attended the ceremony, held in Portsmouth City, United Kingdom.
The attendees had toured the innards of the warship and a guide had detailed the modern systems the vessel boasted. The tour guide had also gone in-depth on the ship’s adaptability when it comes to different marine conditions.
The RNO will use the vessel in coast patrols, relief, and search and rescue.
Representatives had signed the documents that would receive the warship and said that the ships will help bolster the maritime capabilities of Oman’s Armed Forces. It will also enable the Royal Navy of Oman to fulfil its obligation to protect the sea and security of the coasts of the country.
France’s proposal to have the International Criminal Court to launch an investigation against the Syrian regime and opposition’s crimes against humanity and possible war crimes Russia will shut down according to the Russian UN Ambassador Vitaly Churkin. The four-year conflict, which began after a series of brutal crackdowns against protesters by the Syrin regime, had so far claimed 160,000 lives, most of them civilians.
France called for a vote on Thursday, but Russia revealed that it will veto the 58-country supported proposal. Ambassador Churkin said that the proposal was only a “publicity stunt”, which could affect all parties, including those in Syria, very negatively.
However, French Ambassador Gerard Araud said that Churkin could not argue against the proposal. No political process will be undermined because no political process exists against the proposal.
Other UN Security Council members aside from Russia and China had voiced their concerns regarding the possible abuses Syrians are suffering. France circulated a video from a Syrian defector showing the abuses endured by captives on both sides of the conflict as well.
China had chosen to remain silent on the issue.
Russia had already vetoed multiple UN Security Council proposals. One of them was against military action in Syria. A diplomatic resolution to the crisis was still highly improbable.
The International Monetary Fund (IMF) estimated in its World Economic Outlook that Oman’s economy in 2013 had dropped to a 2.8% growth in nominal terms in 2013. The IMF said that this is the slowest expansion the country had since 2009 as outputs from the oil industry had fallen behind.
In 2012, Oman’s economy had grown by 11.5%
According to observers, the slowing economy marks the challenges Oman’s government faces with regards to generating jobs for its growing population, which is now at 2.2 million. Despite progressing efficiently from 1970 as a modern economy, Oman’s deficits are caused by the lack of natural oil reserves.
The 1.4% drop in the oil sector, which accounts for 46% of Oman’s £75 billion economy, also played a great role in the slow growth of the economy.
Oman’s services sector is the largest contributor to the country’s GDP, but it had slowed down to 10.0 % from 15.1 % in 2012.
Analysts said that Oman’s real GDP growth should improve to 4.0% this year because of stable oil prices and the government’s investment on major profit-generating projects in the last two years.
The recent allegation of corruption and public protests that demanded jobs for its population had also hurt the reputation of the country. However, the country had also generated tens of thousands of new government jobs.
Five United Nations agencies have said that diplomatic efforts to resolve the Syrian crisis had already failed and that the UN must focus on providing support for civilians trapped and having trouble in different parts of the country. According to them, “the war escalates in many areas. The humanitarian situation deteriorates day after day.”
UN Under-Secretary General for Emergency Relief Valerie Amos, UN High Commissioner for Refugees Antonio Guterres, Unicef Executive Director Anthony Lake, World Food Programme Executive Director Ertharin Cousin and World Health Organisation Director General Margaret Chan had signed the statement supporting the fact that humanitarian aid is more crucial now than diplomatic resolution
At least nine million Syrians are needing assistance from being trapped between crossfires from Rebels and government forces. The shifting battles had left many relief agencies limited access to provide humanitarian aid for civilian forces.
The five agencies also said that humanitarian access is often denied by all sides in the conflict. They added that “at least one million people are now in need of urgent humanitarian assistance in Aleppo alone. Other key roads are blocked by different armed forces and groups.” The road links had been cut between the city and Damascus.
There is now a total of 2.7 million refugees escaping the Syrian civil war.