Oman's Qaboos bin Said al-Said wants to create an entrepreneurial economy
Omani ruler Qaboos bin Said al-Said has launched a $182m fund for small businesses.Under proposals, new small and medium-sized business (SME) owners would not only be given financial support
,but will also get free land, to help them save on start-up costs.Speaking in the northern town of Bahla, the al-Said said: "This fund will help young men and women with their projects. The initial capital of the fund has been set at $182m, which will be increased by $18m each year."
The scheme aims to help create jobs in the non-oil sectors, helping private companies to employ Omani job-seekers. The country’s economy is booming on the back of high oil prices, but production is expected dip later this year due to low reserves.
Al-Said has outlined vision of an entrepreneurial economy, with the aim being to limited Oman's reliance on oil wealth. The ruler is going on a national tour to explain how the government wants to boost youth employment by encouraging start-up businesses.
In Bahla, he explained that giving companies free land would allow them to start with a "more competitive edge."
"The land will be for long-term utilisation, and we pray that our young men and women are interested in the opportunities."
In 2010, International Monetary Fund (IMF) figures estimated Omani unemployment around 20 percent. Last month, Finance Minister Darwish al-Balushi said that the government dealt with the problems by creating 36,000 jobs in 2012, with plans to create 56,000 more in 2013. He revealed that 20,000 of the new jobs would be in the civil service.