Under the wise directives of His Majesty Sultan Qaboos bin Said, the people of Oman have enjoyed 47 years of prosperity exemplified by the nation’s economic growth, stability, and peace. Known internationally as the Sultanate’s Renaissance, the reign of Sultan Qaboos stands out as an example of prudent leadership, tolerance, and transformation. Guided by Vision 2040, Oman is preparing to cement its legacy as an industrial and logistical hub through numerous infrastructural projects and by harnessing its exclusive position along the East Arabian coast. The growth of Oman’s aluminium industry illustrates this drive towards economic diversification away from crude oil and its successful ability to mobilise natural resources to bring even greater benefits to local communities.
His Majesty Sultan Qaboos has always asserted the importance of focusing on economic diversification as an engine for Oman’s growth and prosperity, he said, “The diversification of the economy, the development of the human skills, the effective exploitation of the available natural resources, and the creation of the suitable conditions to encourage the private sector to perform a greater role in the growth of the national economy – all this will lessen our dependence on oil. We must not forget that oil is a finite resource, with its price at the mercy of external circumstances beyond local control.”
Sohar Aluminium, Oman’s pioneer in aluminium production, was established as an interpretation of these wise directives from His Majesty the Sultan and as part of the Sultanate’s Vision 2020 roadmap. Said Mohammed Al Masoudi CEO of Sohar Aluminium commented, “We, at Sohar Aluminium are proud to set the foundation for the aluminium industry in the Sultanate and laying the path to positions our beloved country as a hub for aluminium manufacturing in the region and the world. Since the company was established, we have enjoyed several regional recognitions and awards that demonstrates our successes and proves the right track we are taking towards being a world-known primary aluminium manufacturer. ARABAL 2017, which we are hosting in November this year, represents yet another milestone longlist of these achievements that will help put Oman on the global aluminium platform. This is a step towards fulfilling our mandate of driving economic diversification to contribute to the success of Oman’s 2040 strategy.”
While mining in Oman was practiced for millennia thanks to its abundance in natural resources, it was only under the direction of Sultan Qaboos bin Said that the nation’s potential as a major exporter of aluminium was recognised. The establishment of Sohar Aluminium in 2004 and the commencement of its operations and production in 2008 represent the first steps of the aluminium industry in the Sultanate and the transformation of the local vision into global realities in this field.
Since its establishment, Sohar Aluminium has helped develop a number of downstream industries that have boosted employment and expanded the Sultanate’s potential to become a centre for the region’s aluminium industry.
Al Masoudi, said, “The establishment of Sohar Aluminium represented a significant move towards economy diversification and fully harnessing the true potential as a geo-economic hub along the coastline of the Sea of Oman. For millennia, Omanis played a major role in trade, positioning themselves as a major network uniting African, Asian, and Middle Eastern markets. Our mandate is to support the Vision 2040 while in the making in order to facilitate a significant increase in economic activity and bring massive benefits to Oman.”
Within less than a year since its establishment, Sohar Aluminium took rapid steps to realize its reality. In 2005, the company commenced the development of its 375,000 per annum capacity Greenfield Smelter, the 1,000 MW Power Plant, and state of the art Port facility and Casthouse. The company has furthered its role in boosting Oman’s diversification efforts by bringing the 21st Arab International Aluminium Conference (ARABAL) to Muscat. Regarded as the premium platform for the aluminium industries in the Arab world, the event, scheduled for November 2017, will welcome a broad spectrum of global aluminium experts to share best practices in line with the theme ‘Driving Strategic Growth across the Global Aluminium Industry’. It will also include potential global investors that will have the opportunity to explore business opportunities and network with business partners in the Sultanate.
Sohar Aluminium’s entire plant and Greenfield smelter, the first built in the region, was operational late-2008 utilising over 12 million accident free man hours. The first quay was given to Sohar Aluminium by port authorities in October 2007. In 2009, the smelter reached full capacity after the pot line, the longest in the world at 1.2 km, was turned on successfully. The nation’s largest non-hydrocarbon industrial venture has continued to register production milestones, confirming its place as a proud example of the Sultanate’s diversification efforts. As a result, the company has been recognised as a key player in this field by “Tanfeedh”, the National Program for Enhancing Economic Diversification. Sohar Aluminium has taken its role in stride, ramping up efforts to contribute to the economic growth of Oman’s non-oil sector.
Al Masoudi added, “It has been a long journey but thanks to our dedication to health, safety, and productivity, we have been able to maintain an Omani workforce of 75%, nurture their growth, and achieve manufacturing milestones at a regional level. This has had the combined effect of creating a strong downstream industry for our products and bolstered investor confidence in the Sultanate’s ability to move beyond petrochemicals.”
Blessed with a wealth of natural resources and petrochemicals, the Sultanate embarked on a mission to create a thriving aluminium industry. Oman’s unique geo-economic location has allowed it to attract some of the largest companies in the world and subsequently created thousands of jobs for Omanis.
Al Masoudi concluded by saying, “This Renaissance Day represents 47 years of economic progress and social development and we would like to take this opportunity to congratulate His Majesty Sultan Qaboos bin Said on this glorious occasion and recommit ourselves to his vision to position the Sultanate a key player in the world’s stage of industry.
With global demand for aluminium estimated to reach 70 million metric tonnes per annum by 2020, Oman is well placed to leverage its value proposition to further develop the aluminium industry. Hosting ARABAL 2017 is a major step towards nurturing the non-oil sector of the Sultanate’s economy.