Qatar and Oman are strategic trading partners and plenty of cross-border opportunities exist between the two countries, said Commercial Bank Group CEO Joseph Abraham.
In an address to an investor meeting held as part of National bank of Oman’s roadshow at the Commercial Bank Plaza yesterday, Abraham said, “Qatar and Oman are strategic trading partners; now more than ever as a result of the GCC economic blockade. Oman played a big role in coming to Qatar’s aid and help in the aftermath of the blockade.”
Abraham’s speech was delivered in absentia by Raju Buddiraju, Commercial Bank executive general manager and head (Wholesale Banking).
Oman, he said, “played a big role in coming to Qatar’s aid in the aftermath of the blockade. Trade is of course, not limited to foodstuff. Qatar has around 350 joint Omani and Qatari companies in sectors such as contracting, engineering, services and industry.”
According to Qatar Chamber, the volume of trade between Qatar and Oman was about QR2bn and trade relations have accelerated very quickly since then. Non-oil Omani exports rose by 144% in the first nine months of 2017 to Omani riyals 132.8mn.
And Oman was Qatar’s top non-oil export destination (as of December 2017) accounting for QR455mn (or 35% of total exports).
Before the blockade, Oman was Qatar’s 25th largest trading partner. However, the bilateral trade is expected to grow exponentially if December numbers are any indication. In January, the two countries had signed an agreement to boost Omani exports to Qatar. And in September last year, the Omani products exhibition in Doha was attended by more than 100 participants and was a “great success”.
Abraham said since starting operations in 1975, Commercial Bank has built a “great franchise” on more than 40 years of “innovation and long-lasting client relationships”.
“Commercial Bank is the historical leader for banking innovation in Qatar such as bringing the first of ATMs and POS machines to Qatar, introducing Internet banking and being the first Qatari bank to list our shares on the London Stock Exchange. Today, we continue to lead innovation in banking-especially in digital, which we believe is the future of banking.
“We have expanded our footprint across the region, to include a stake in National bank of Oman and in 2013; Alternatif Bank joined the Commercial Bank Group as our Turkish subsidiary.”
Commercial Bank executive general manager Khalifa al-Rayes welcomed the gathering.
Senior NBO executives including Wasfi al-Said, acting CEO, Kumar Keswani, general manager (Corporate Banking), Hassan Shaban, general manager (Government Banking) and John Chang, general manager (Retail Banking) made presentations on opportunities for investment in the Sultanate.
They termed Oman as the “next frontier of growth” and said the Omani economy is “entering a new growth cycle supported by strong consumer, industry and trade fundamentals.”
The Sultanate has a “dynamic population profile” with 45% of the total population under the age of 20. Oman has earned top rankings in the international community on competitiveness, economic freedom and doing business indicators while maintaining multiple cost advantages.
Located on the strategic axis on the Indian Ocean and GCC, Oman boasts of accessible trade routes – two days closer than other markets, an NBO presentation at the event showed. Oman offers business numerous advantages in any of its free zones or industrial estates.
Al-Said (left) and al-Rayes: Growing trade ties.