Legislation Changes in Oman regarding Investment in SEZM
The Special Economic Zone Authority (SEZAD) has recently announced its intention to reduce the processing periods of investor applications in a move intended to encourage increased investment in Duqm.
This forms part of SEZAD’s vision (2030), which has the objective of making Duqm a well- connected, modern city with a high standard of living and attractive investment opportunities. The authority hopes that the changes will encourage businesses to make Duqm their first choice for investment in the area.
Dr Ismael bin Ahmed al-Balushi, CEO of the authority, has confirmed that this move is intended to attract investors by ensuring that all business applications are processed as quickly as possible. Furthermore, he has advised that an integrated services guide has been produced to clarify all the services that are available to investors, investment requirements, the periods of completion and all prescribed fees. The guide, which will be printed over the coming months and uploaded on the SEZAD website, provides an overview of SEZAD and includes information on the five main investment steps in the free zone for various business activities, as detailed below.
- Investment begins with the investor filing the online land usufruct form.
- If the form is completed acceptably, initial approval will be granted and SEZAD will assign the appropriate land for the project. (There are a variety of different investment zones for different activities, such as commercial, industrial, tourism and logistics.)
- The investor then approves the allocated land and registers the project in the commercial register of the zone.
- The prescribed fees must then be paid and the usufruct agreement signed.
- SEZAD will grant investors a grace period of 2 years of the usufruct rental from the date of signing the agreement.
The guide, which is around 100 pages in Arabic and English, introduces approximately 60 different services to investors and is divided into 6 sections:
- Land usufruct
- Commercial registration
- Licenses, visas and customs
- Permits and building approvals
- Permits for public utilities
- Environmental permits
The amendments which have been made to the current processing periods include:
- Reducing project registration from 5 days to only 15 minutes.
Companies can be registered in one of two ways. By visiting the one-stop shop in Duqm or Muscat and paying the prescribed fees or by processing the registration through the services portal on the SEZAD website and paying the fees online.
- Processing usufruct applications in only 5 days instead of the previous 30 days.
This is significant, since the application must pass through several departments before completion, including the Land Usufruct Department, Urban Planning and Survey Department and the GIS Department.
- Obtaining a business license from SEZAD in just one day.
Once all required documents have been submitted, the license will be issued. This ensures that projects can begin their business activities promptly.
- Acquisition of a permit for light industries (Third Grade) has been reduced from 40 days to only 2 and for medium industries (Second grade), the period has been brought down from 40 days to 5.
- Obtaining a construction permit now only takes 5 days as opposed to the previous 15.
Other amendments to the current legislation include a reduction in the time required to issue investors’ work permits, recruit foreign workers, and workers transfer and secondment.
Dr Ismael bin Ahmed al-Balushi concluded by saying that SEZAD is keen to align itself with the Sultanate’s aims of attracting foreign investment, creating a positive environment for local businesses to thrive, encouraging economic diversity and providing employment opportunities for the Omani youth.
These changes will certainly make investment in The Special Economic zone of Duqm (SEZD) markedly easier, which is good news to any enterprises considering doing business in the region.