Micro-manufacturing, Oman’s new priority

Representing 9.3 per cent of GDP and employing over 38,000 people, manufacturing is at the heart of the Sultanate’s ambitious economy

01 November 2017

Oman’s new breed of micro-manufacturers are breathing new life into manufacturing across the sultanate, according to an expert.

Oman is a country that makes many things from car batteries, AC units, confectionery, footwear, marble kitchen tops to tomato paste and these products exported to 135 countries.

Representing 9.3 per cent of GDP and employing over 38,000 people manufacturing is at the heart of Oman’s ambitious economy and was the topic of discussion for last month’s Inside Stories.

However, the micro-manufacturing sector is increasingly becoming important in the country. These small companies typically employ fewer than 10 workers and include metal fabricators, silversmiths, bakers, graphic designers, organic soap makers, furniture builders, chocolatiers to seamstresses.

Though small in size, many of these hi-tech urban micro-manufacturers are becoming an economic force to be reckoned with, radically altering the landscape of how things get made in Oman, said a statement from Ithraa, Oman’s inward investment and export development agency, and organiser of the monthly Inside Stories initiative.

Global connectivity and technological advances, particularly in digital fabrication are changing the face of Omani manufacturing. Today, the sector requires less staff, less investment, less space and is much easier to manage. What was once done with 20 machines and 50 people can now be done with two or three machines and minimum staff, it said.

“Micro-manufacturing is nothing new,” points out Taleb Al Makhmari, director general, marketing and media at Ithraa.

“But we’re seeing its resurgence,” he explained. “From hand-made chocolate, eco-friendly cosmetics to women’s fashion to precision engineering, where innovation in design is creating products that capture the consumers’ attention.”

According to Al Makhmari, micro-manufacturing is about bringing innovative twists to old ideas, completely new innovations or throwbacks to lost ways of doing things. And there is a wide variety of angles for this business model and it can mold to any area or section of the economy.

“This new breed of savvy Omani micro-manufacturers include artists, crafters, knitters, seamstresses, builders, programmers, engineers, bakers and graphic designers, all specialising in custom products, small quantities and fast turnaround – making everything from jewelry, crockery, kitchen knives to bicycles. And it’s all being driven by social media, mobile technology, analytics and cloud computing. These are people that just want to design and make cool things. They want to make stuff and they want to do that personally, not outsource to faraway places,” emphasised Al Makhmari.

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