Oman is fascinating. The Arab state holds a strategically important position at the mouth of the Persian Gulf. This helped it build its own empire in the seventeenth century. Fast forward to present day and there is reason to believe that one can create one’s own empire in Oman. Whilst oil makes up a large proportion of Oman’s GDP its monarchical leader, referred to as the Sultan of Oman, is keen to improve his nation’s tourism. It is in this industry that a friend of mine decided to set up in the country.
With a strong knowledge of the leisure industry he spotted an opportunity for a hotel that caters specifically for westerners in the country’s capital, Muscat. His first objective was to finance the project.
It is apparent that Oman’s major banks recognise how vital small and medium sized enterprises (SMEs) are to the country as the information on getting for example an HSBC loan in Oman, and how to apply for it can easily be sourced online. To be eligible for an SME loan you must own or direct a business with a vintage of at least two years. Given that certain other criteria are filled, including government approval, you are typically eligible for up to 300 000 Omani Rial (RO). This is the equivalent to almost $800 000 payable over a maximum term of seven years. The disadvantage to taking this option, as my friend found out, is that it does mean that your business territory needs to be Oman only.
This problem can be solved by taking out one of Oman’s personal finance loans instead. If you are an expatriate then you can demand a loan of up to twelve times your salary to be paid back over the course of five years. The loan is attractive as there is the opportunity to extend it if repayments have been made regularly and in full. There is also the option to defer two repayments per year, something that can always come in handy!
Loan sorted, the next job was to draw in business. Thankfully the Omani capital had a lot to help my friend out. The city has a wide array of museums and is on the verge of opening a spectacular new opera house. It also has incredible temples, mosques and churches that are not only aesthetically pleasing but also illustrate the multi-ethnic composition of the city.
It is not just western tourists however that such a hotel can hope to draw in. Muscat’s economy is thriving and his hotel is hoping to cash in on the increasing number of businessmen that are travelling to the city. They are drawn by companies such as Suhail Bahwan Group, which is a trading partner for Toshiba and Subaru.
The key to success for such an enterprise will be whether it can be marketed successfully. With a wealth of experience behind it and strong credit options it stands every chance.