Oman's Minister of Commerce and Industry, HE Dr Ali bin Masoud al-Sunaidy, has laid the foundation stone for a sugar refinery in Sohar Port that is expected to create jobs and boost the local economy.
Oman Sugar Refining Plant, the first of its kind in the sultanate, spans 188,000m² and will cost approximately $350m (OMR134m) to build.
The factory – one of several in Oman's pipeline – will produce more than 900,000 tonnes (t) of refined sugar per year.
European-grade manufacturing lines will be set up inside the factory, which Oman's state-run news agency said would use technology to boost refined sugar production, supporting the operational efficiency of the facility.
30% of the factory's workforce will be made up of Omanis. This figure will rise to 90% during the following 10 years, as part of the Oman Sugar Refining Plant efforts to support Omanisation, a strategy to promote employment among the sultanate's nationals.
Nasser al-Hosani, Oman Sugar Refining Company's general manager, said the refinery would not only support the labour market, but enhance food security, and have positive knock-on effect for other businesses operating in the Sohar Port and Freezone.
Reducing agricultural imports and increasing manufacturing capabilities has been at the heart of Oman's efforts to diversify the economy and make it less defendant on petrodollars.
In 2018, Oman opened a $13m (OMR4.9m) factory to manufacture 9,000t of starch in the Sohar industrial zone.
Plans have been announced to build several manufacturing sites, including: a $1.5bn (OMR576m) PVC plastic plant 150km southeast of Muscat; a soya production facility in Sohar Free Zone, set to cost $100m (OMR38.5m); and a grain storage facility for Sohar Flour Mills, with a capacity of 110,000t.