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How Oman's economic development plan is fuelling its exhibitions industry

Oman is known as the Jewel of Arabia, and has serious appeal for events.

The country boasts a fascinating history, geographical diversity and cultural heritage, which all helps make it a distinctive and authentic destination.

Omanis have been welcoming visitors for over 5,000 years and, now with the government’s 2040 vision, the focus is on education, health, commerce, industry, agriculture and finance, all sectors that encourage knowledge exchange, dialogue and engagement with the world.

Oman’s economy continues to grow, driven by rising oil prices and serious efforts to focus on expanding GDP contribution from non-oil sectors.

Andy White, General Manager of Omanexpo, tells EW: “The ongoing development happening in Oman provides an excellent opportunity for exhibition organisers to play a significant role in supporting the government’s economic development plan.

"Oman’s exhibitions industry is relatively stable and is not experiencing the same market volatility as some other Gulf states. As long as we continue to innovate and don’t become complacent, then we have a great opportunity to grow our business and make a valuable contribution to the economy.’’

The opening of the world-class Oman Convention & Exhibition Centre in 2016 was a welcome strategic development for tradefair organisers such as Omanexpo, as it signalled the heightened attention placed on the exhibitions sector and its continued growth for the long-term.

Omanexpo is Oman’s largest exhibitions and conferences organiser, running most of the biggest international trade events that span major sectors as oil and gas, construction, energy and water, food and hospitality, health and mining.   

The 2018 opening of the state-of-the-art Muscat International Airport also provided further proof of these growth initiatives. 




“Supported by a world-class events infrastructure, we are continuously developing our shows and enhancing their business appeal in order to attract more international exhibitors and visitors. This will hopefully pave the way towards positioning Oman as a key destination for events in the Middle East and indirectly support the tourism sector, one of the government’s earmarked potential growth sectors,” White added.

Despite Oman’s efforts to reduce its long-standing dependence on oil, the sector remains a key driver for growth; at the same time, increased investment is placed on other priority sectors such as healthcare, transport and logistics, mining, food processing, fisheries and manufacturing.

As trade events are increasingly playing a vital role in facilitating business, the government is equally taking a more active part in shaping and providing the direction to these events. This is evident in the Ministry of Oil and Gas’ direct involvement in Omanexpo’s recent rebranding of Oil & Gas West Asia (OGWA), Oman’s largest biennial upstream event, to Oman Petroleum & Energy Show (OPES), an annual all-encompassing event, which will see its inaugural edition in 2020.

As Oman diversifies its economy to achieve its economic growth objectives, the exhibitions industry is becoming an increasingly important factor in attracting inward investment.