by Kevin Stoda, a historian from Kansas (USA)
Notice how in some maps, Oman is at the center of the Middle East? This implies that Oman has often been on major trade routes. It could also, however, manufacture and sell its own products through its buying, transporting, and selling activities--and we are not just talking about petroleum here.
I encourage you to think bigger, plan bigger, and employ your young engineers in a mechanical field that has been all-but-ignored in your (Oman's) world-class catch-up development efforts since the mid 1970s in your (Oman's) world-class catch-up development efforts since the mid 1970s.
I have been concerned by the fact that since the drop in petroleum prices two years ago that the leadership of the country has opted for austerity instead of promoting education, training, and new industries that would best serve the country. This is a fairly short-sighted decision and neglects a full commitment to develop and educate the peoples of Oman more.
For example , I observed with dismay that the country's train projects to Kuwait have been mostly put on hiatus. (Moreover, the stretch between Salalah and Sohar had not even been seriously planned before the cut-backs in projects started.) Because of its strategic location in the Indian Ocean, Oman should instead be planning to become a new powerhouse in transport, instead of falling back on dependence on the petroleum industry again; i.e., as prices slowly rise once again on the international markets there is a temptation to follow the same-old practices of the past 5 decades.
In short, now is not the time to slow down on the diversification of the economy, nor is it time to reduce funding for education and training across the land. Sustainability and diversification should be the mantra of the day--not austerity.
May I humbly suggest a completely new industry to invest in and to promote. I encourage this because (like my home state of Kansas in the USA) your country is geographically well-suited for the the production and sales of commercial aircraft (with an eye to many other growing commercial aviation markets in Africa and Asia over the coming decades).
The export terminals of northern, cental and southern Oman could serve as shipping gateways for the proposed aircraft products to nearly a hundred countries located on those two continents alone. Likewise, in the commercial development of the internal market of Oman, Sohar and other regions could become once again accessible to the international airline industry.
I will continue explaining why Oman is a great fit for developing a small commercial aircraft industry, but first allow me to share a short history about my home state of Kansas (which is only 3/4 the the size of Oman but slightly larger in size to a combined Syria and Lebanon), which has a population of just under 3 million people WHILE year-after-year impacting the commercial and military aviation for over a full century.
First, notice how in many maps, the state of Kansas is at the center of the United states or even of North America? In short, it is at the crossroads of Mexico and Canada as well as on the east-west trade routes from New York to California and from Florida to Washington.
The city of Wichita, Kansas, which is roughly twice the size of Salalah, currently has over 21 airplane-manufacturing firms in the city. The combined countries of Oman and Saudi Arabia do not even currently have half that many total companies working in the aviation sector.
Two of the most famous names in commercial aviation started in Kansas: Cessna and Beechcraft. In fact, the "history of Cessna aviation began in June 1911, when Clyde Cessna, a farmer in Rago, Kansas, built a wood-and-fabric airplane and became the first person to build and fly a powered aircraft in the heartland of America, between the Mississippi River and the Rocky Mountains."