Exporting to Oman

The Sultanate of Oman is the second largest country geographically in the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC). Its strategic location within the Arabian Peninsula, internal political stability, favourable tax regime and strong existing links with the UK offer significant export opportunities for UK businesses.

Strategic location

Oman is located in the south eastern quarter of the Arabian Peninsula. As the only GCC member state outside the Straits of Hormuz, Oman offers assured Gulf access and shorter shipping times along major maritime routes. Its deep seawater ports and airports provide a gateway to Indian, Asian and African markets.

Political stability

Dubbed the ‘Switzerland of the Middle East’, Oman provides a politically neutral voice in a region prone to diplomatic tension. With significant investments in social as well as hard infrastructure over the past 50 years, the ‘Omani Renaissance’ has brought political stability internally as well as to its international relations.

Strong UK links

The UK-Omani bilateral relationship is underpinned by strong and growing military cooperation and very close diplomatic ties. The UK is a significant investor in Oman. Many Omanis choose to study overseas in the UK, and English is widely spoken and accepted as a business language.

Ease of doing business

68th

out of 190 countries (World Bank, 2019)

Currency

Rial

Business language

Arabic, English

GDP per capita

$19,300

UK is $42,558 (IMF, 2018)

Economic growth

2.1%

(IMF, 2018)

Time zone

GMT +4

Opportunities for exporters

There are opportunities for UK companies across a broad range of industries. Our trade advisers in Oman have identified particular opportunities for UK businesses in the following sectors.

Doing business in Oman

Preparing to export

Tax

The UK and Oman have signed a double taxation agreement, meaning the same income is not taxed twice.

The tax regime is generally seen as favourable with no personal income tax and one of the lowest rates of corporate income tax globally (15%).

Oman’s Ministry of Finance (website in Arabic) oversees taxation.

VAT

There is currently no value-added tax (VAT) regime in Oman, although this is expected to be introduced in 2019/2020.

Standards

British standards are widely used in Oman. Responsibility for standards sits with the Directorate General of Standards and Specifications at the Ministry of Commerce and Industry.

Agents, importers or cargo companies can provide guidance and advice about labelling and packaging regulations.

Operating in Oman

Challenges

A long-term approach and focus on building relationships are essential for successful market penetration and sustaining market share in Oman. Local partnerships or agents often play a crucial role in product promotion and marketing. In many cases, a product’s success in this market will depend on the local agent.

UK businesses operating in Oman may face challenges relating to:

  • the amount of time it takes to set up a local operation (if outside free trade zones) and to obtain the required government licenses
  • local ownership requirements (if outside free trade zones)
  • the requirement to employ Omani nationals

Businesses operating in or exporting to Oman may face delays in payment.

Intellectual property

As a first step, we advise you to speak to an intellectual property (IP) lawyer if you think you need patent protection when exporting.

The Patents and Trademarks Directorate oversees IP matters. Enforcement of IP rights can be poor. However, challenges can often be successful.

Commercial agents

Omani agents supply goods or services on behalf of foreign businesses without a registered entity in Oman. Agency agreements:

  • must be registered with the Ministry of Commerce and Industry
  • can be difficult to terminate, even if it is a fixed term agreement
  • are often weighted in favour of the agent

Next steps

DIT can advise you on doing business abroad, and help put you in touch with other people who can help such as lawyers and distributors.