The GCC common market grants mutual national treatment to all GCC firms, goods, and citizens. GCC labeling standards require that labels be printed in Arabic and English, although some items are sold in the market without Arabic labels. For packaged food products, the dates of manufacture and expiration must be printed on the label or elsewhere on the container. Oman does not accept production and expiration dates affixed with stick-on tape. Many U.S. firms consider Omani/GCC shelf-life limits to be more restrictive than is scientifically necessary. Imported meat should be Halal, as most consumers are Muslim. Major slaughterhouses in the United States can offer Halal supervision.
Potential exporters should be aware that all media imports are subject to review and possible censorship. For example, the Ministry of Heritage and Culture may reject or expunge morally or politically sensitive material from imported media. The Ministry of Information may also delay or bar the entry of magazines and newspaper editions if it takes exception to a story on Oman or deems the content to be morally suspect.
Trade Promotion & Advertising
Oman International Trade and Exhibition, Al Nimr, CONNECT, Muscat Expo and White Paper Summits are some of Oman’s local and international trade show organizers, which often seek out U.S. presenters and exhibitors. Small- and medium-sized businesses considering entering the Omani market might attend sector-focused expos as an effective means of showcasing new offerings and networking directly with stakeholders, potential clients, and policymakers. Popular expos include the Oman Health Exhibition & Conference, Oman Sustainability Week, Food and Hospitality Oman, Oman Petroleum and Energy Show, ProjectOman, COMEX (information technology), and GHEDEX (higher education). U.S. exporters might also look to international shows as an opportunity to meet Omani importers and market to Oman. In addition, many Omani buyers attend prominent regional conferences, such as Arab Health and ADIPEC in Dubai, as well as the Offshore Technology Conference in Houston, and the International Franchise Expo in New York. The Oman Convention & Exhibition Centre aims to establish Oman as a major venue for regional and international events.
The “Direct Marketing” section of Chapter 3 provides a more comprehensive discussion of advertising outlets in Oman.
The pricing formula for a product in Oman involves the cost of production, which includes raw materials and labor, distribution, promotion and advertising, taxes, and customs. Oman assesses taxes on corporate profits, and taxes companies for expatriate labor upon issuance of a work visa. Most international restaurants in Oman charge municipality and tourism taxes in their invoices, and landlords pay a lease tax to the municipality.
Oman’s corporate income tax rate is 15 percent. The government allows tax exemptions to entities in the manufacturing, mining, agriculture, fisheries, tourism, education, and health care sectors for an initial five-year period from the date of commencement of business with an available extension. Oman assesses a 100 percent excise tax on tobacco products, energy drinks, alcohol, and pork products, and a 50 percent tax on carbonated drinks. Oman also assesses a VAT of five percent.
Sales Service/Customer Support
Local sales and service agents offer after-sales service and customer support for many foreign products. Service response time varies depending on the type of good. Many Omanis express frustration with seeking service from regional support offices in the UAE, and customers appreciate U.S. companies offering local support.
Local Professional Services
For more information on vetted local professional service providers, please refer to Oman American Business Center’s Professional Services Directory.
Principal Business Associations
The Oman American Business Center, the local U.S. Chamber of Commerce affiliate, provides a variety of activities and forums to promote the exchange of information, advice, and ideas for the U.S. business community in Oman.
The quasi-governmental Oman Chamber of Commerce & Industry (OCCI) represents the Omani private sector.
Limitations on Selling U.S. Products and Services
Exceptions to Oman’s general openness to foreign investment exist in telecommunications, broadcasting, the domestic news media, financial services, legal and other professional services, property ownership, and products and services in violation of Islamic principles.