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News in Brief

Second PET Plant by Octal
Octal Petrochemicals has started operations of its second PET plant in Salalah. The new facility has a capacity of 300,000 metric tonnes per annum (MTPA), making it the largest PET resin plant of its type in the Middle East and the largest clear rigid PET sheet plant in the world.
Food and consumer packaging markets in the US, Europe and China are Octal's prime targets in 2009. The first orders of PET resin to Europe have been shipped this month, and Octal expects total per annum sales to reach US$400mn by the end of this year. The new plant marks the company's emergence as a global player in PET resin and clear rigid sheet packaging. Our investment delivers dramatically enhanced scale, breakthrough technology and crucial cost and quality advantages at a time when customers need them most," said Octal chairman Sheikh Saad Suhail Bahwan.
Nicholas Barakat, managing director, said their patented DPET technology uses a single-phase reactor to integrate PET resin and sheet manufacture. This technology bypasses the expensive drying and melting process of conventional clear sheet manufacture, producing PET sheet using 65 per cent less energy.
Muriya Gift to Winners
Muriya Tourism Development, the Official Tourism Develop-ment Partner of the 19th Arabian Gulf Cup, has awarded the Al Jazeera Best Players Awards of residential properties worth almost RO700,000 to the top performers of the GCC 19: the Best Goalkeeper, the Top Goal Scorer and the Best Player.
All the three categories were officially announced by the technical committee of the GCC 19 football competition. Majid al Marshadi (No.5 - KSA) is the best player, Hassan Rabe'ea (No.14- Oman) is the top scorer with four goals in five matches and Ali al Habsi (No.26- Oman) is the best goalkeeper of the GCC 19 in which he managed to keep a clean sheet throughout the competition. At a glittering ceremony after the final match at the Sultan Qaboos Sports Complex Stadium, Cyril Piaia, CEO of Muriya, awarded the stars of the GCC 19. "The best performers deserve nothing but the best and it is my privilege to present three of our prized properties which will be handed over by December 31, 2009," said Piaia.
Muriya entered into a sponsorship agreement recently to become the only official local partner in the tourism development category of the competition.

BankMuscat Declares Results
BankMuscat has announced the preliminary results for the year ended December 31, 2008. The results are subject to audit by the external auditors and approval of board of directors of the bank and Central Bank of Oman (CBO). The bank is expected to post an operating profit of RO152mn for last year as against an operating profit of RO103mn reported for 2007, an increase of 48 per cent. Income from core businesses maintained the growth trend in the fourth quarter of 2008 as well, which is reflected in operating profit growth.
During the last quarter of 2008, the global market conditions substantially changed as a result of the global financial crisis. This has affected the market value of some of the strategic and non-strategic investment portfolios of the bank. As a measure of prudence, the bank is considering some impairment losses, which are exceptional in nature in the results for the year 2008. After those impairment losses, the bank is expected to post a net profit of over RO90mn as against a net profit of RO84.2mn reported in 2008, an increase of seven per cent.

Oman Oil Opens Ahlain Stores
Oman Oil has opened the first of its brand new state-of-the-art chain of convenience stores called Ahlain, in Ghala. The opening coincided with the fifth anniversary celebrations of Oman Oil Marketing Company, held in the presence of Eng Omar bin Ahmed Qatan, chief executive officer, Oman Oil, Sheikh Salim bin Abdullah al Rawas, chairman, and other dignitaries. Describing Ahlain as embodying the company's values through its vibrant and young designs, Qatan said that customers would be assured of a holistic shopping experience through these shops and that three more Ahlain stores would be opened in the capital area soon. "There is currently no standard name for our convenience stores. Now, with the opening of Ahlain, all our existing 50 QuickShops will take on this new name," elaborated Sheikh al Rawas.

New Contract for Topaz
Renaissance Services subsidiary Topaz Energy and Marine Limited, a Dubai-based offshore vessel owner and operator, has announced that its Qatar subsidiary Doha Marine Services (DMS) had signed a new contract with oil major Total E&P-Qatar, for two of its vessels - Topaz Jumeirah and DMS 2000. With the signing of the contract, the current contract of Topaz Jumeirah and DMS 2000 gets renewed with Total for a period of two years with extension options. The two vessels signed under contract are anchor handling tug supply vessels (AHTSV's). DMS 2000 has been working with Total- Qatar for the past two years while Topaz Jumeirah has been working with it for the last six months.
The contract value for both the vessels including options is valued at over US$42mn and is in direct continuation of their current ongoing contracts. The two vessels will support the drilling programmes of Total in the al Khalij field in Offshore Qatar and will be operated by DMS from their offices in Doha.

Tie-up by Al Rawas Auto
Al Rawas Auto has joined hands with Emrald Resilient Tyre Manufacturers, the flagship company of the Emrald Group of Companies, India for the distribution of Emrald's brand of industrial tyres. The al Rawas group has already picked up an equity stake in Emrald Tyres and wants to associate with it in its growth plans for the Gulf region. Both the groups want to expand significantly in this market of industrial tyres and establish the brand as a leader in the fastest growing Middle East market. Apart from Muscat, the new marketing joint venture plans to open exclusive marketing offices in Dubai and Saudi Arabia and will have a complete network of sales and service for catering to the requirements of the market.
Check-in Options From Oman Air
Passengers flying with Oman Air will soon become the first in the Middle East region to choose from four new and innovative check-in options at Muscat and other key airports. Oman's national carrier will dramatically improve customer experience by providing four new ways to check-in, including using a mobile phone, Internet and airport kiosks. In conjunction with the launch of its Sabre Web Check-In solution, Oman Air will also introduce the facility for customers and travel agents to select their preferred seat and print the boarding pass for the same day return flight on www.omanair.aero.
"Today's announcement demonstrates our commitment to the growth of the Oman aviation industry, by using emerging technology to help us transform the traveller experience. Our newly launched range of check-in options is yet another step towards providing a seamless and hassle-free air travel experience for our passengers," said Barry Brown, Oman Air's vice president - commercial.

Deposit Scheme From Bank Sohar
Bank Sohar has launched a unique deposit product offering maximum returns with an assurance of instant liquidity. Explaining the key features of the product, Khalfan Rashid al Taley, deputy general manager, Retail Banking, said that 'ready cash deposit' allows Bank Sohar customers to enjoy the benefits of earning a high interest return on their term deposit along with instant access to funds through an overdraft facility. He further explained that with the term deposit, the customer would also get instant access to ready cash through a ready cash overdraft account. This account would provide customers with an immediate overdraft facility to the value of 75 per cent of the associated term deposit. The 'Ready Cash' Overdraft Account will come with insurance cover for the overdraft facility, a chequebook, a Visa Debit Electron Card to provide easy access to funds.
Zubair to Open More Dealerships
Zubair Enterprises plans to open more dealerships and enhance its offerings throughout Oman. Significant investments will see the first of these new dealerships open in the geographically important area between Barka and Sohar, Musanna. This multiple franchise operation houses the European marques Peugeot and Citroen as well as Volkswagen and Skoda. American icons Chrysler, Jeep and Dodge are also available as are Mitsubishi and Mitsubishi Trucks.
Ahli Bank Opens Branch
Ahli Bank recently inaugurated their renovated branch in Sur under the auspices of H E Sayyid Hilal bin Hamoud al Busaidi, Wali of Sur. Also present at the ceremony were Sheikh Juma Said Mohammad al Farsi, H E Mohammad Abduallah Hamad al Farsi, member of the Majlis As'Shura, Sheikh Hamad Mohammad Tiba and Ali Saleh al Hashar from Oman Gas Company, members of the board and customers of Ahli Bank.
CEO Abdul Aziz al Balushi said that the modernisation of branches is aimed at demonstrating that Ahli Bank is committed to offer its customers the best financial services. "We started the inauguration of our renovated branches last month with the main branch in Wattayah and these renovations are in line with our long term strategy of providing quintessential services to our customers while maintaining the distin-ctive and fresh appeal of our branches," he added.
AHEC Bags Govt Contract
Al Hassan Engineering Company (AHEC) has recently received a multi-million dollar contract for the prestigious Burhan West and Harmal Pipeline Project from the government. The project, which will be managed by Petroleum Development Oman (PDO), strengthens AHEC's reputation as one of the few contractors in Oman with capabilities to handle exotic materials such as duplex stainless steel (DSS).
The project includes the construction of DSS flowlines and pipelines at Burhan West and Harmal along with associated electrical distribution, control, monitoring and protection infrastructure. This is an extremely important project for the country and AHEC is fully committed to its timely completion while adhering to all the requirements of safety and quality.
"We are delighted to be entrusted with this significant and prestigious PDO order which, in addition to other contracts already secured in 2008, gives AHEC an extremely healthy order book to take us into the new business year," said Peter Hall, chief executive officer of AHEC.

Online Donations Portal Launched
The Information Technology Authority (ITA), in association with the Ministry of Social Development has launched the official online donations portal www.onlinedonations.org.om recently at Knowledge Oasis Muscat (KOM).
The portal was launched by H E Ahmed Rashid Mohammed al Mamari, Undersecretary of the Ministry of Social Development, in the presence of Dr Salim al Ruzaiqi, CEO of ITA and Mohamed Ali al Qaed, CEO of e-Government Authority of Bahrain. This official donations portal approved and supported by the Ministry of Social Development makes it possible for donors to contribute to charitable organisations such as the Association of the Welfare of the Handicapped, the Association of Early Intervention for Children with Special Needs, Oman Association for Disabled, Al Noor Association for the Blind and the National Association for Cancer Awareness completely online.
Workshop by Al Hassan
Al Hassan, which has always been in the forefront of Omanisation and has won many accolades, including the coveted Green Card from the Ministry of Manpower for several years, held a workshop on strategic Omanisation recently. Twenty- five participants were drawn from across the decision-making levels of the organisation, especially Omanis from the management and the executive cadre.
The workshop was inaugur-ated by Hassan Ali Salman, chairman, Al Hassan Group, who emphasised the importance of learning as an ongoing lifelong activity. Maqbool Ali Salman, managing director, Al Hassan Group in his keynote address urged the participants to believe in their capabilities and take initiatives so as to maintain a healthy work-life balance. Sanjay Khandagale, talent manager at Al Hassan, was the faculty for the workshop.
Rotary Club in Muscat
An informal launch of the Rotary Club of Muscat (under formation) was recently held in Haffa House Hotel. Rotary Interna-tional is a worldwide service oriented organisation of more than 1.2mn members. Rotarians provide humanitarian service, encourage high ethical standards in all vocations and help build goodwill and peace in the world. There are over 32,000 Rotary Clubs in more than 200 countries and geographical areas. Rotary Clubs are non-political, non-religious, and open to all cultures, races, and creeds. As signified by the motto 'Service Above Self', Rotary's main objective is service. Rotary currently has no formal presence in the sultanate. However, the establishment of Rotary in Oman has been discussed more than once at senior community level and there is much support for the ideas behind Rotary.
BankMuscat Ties up With ITA
BankMuscat, in close partnership with the Information Technology Authority (ITA), has taken the lead in rolling out electronic card payment facility for government services offered as part of the sultanate's e-Governance initiative. "The initiative marks a farsighted step by the bank to consolidate its dominant position in launching innovative technology products and services which spell convenience to customers. The facility reflects the bank's commitment to work closely with government agencies in building a strong financial infrastructure in the sultanate," Sulaiman al Harthy, Group DGM, consumer banking, said. BankMuscat has also widened the reach of its easy-to-use mobile banking service, offering a host of transactions on finger tips through a common short code available to customers using Oman Mobile and Nawras connections.
The mobile banking service is expected to attract a large number of customers as it does away with the requirement to visit the bank or wait in long queues for various transactions. The new facility offers a wide range of options, which can be accessed from anywhere, anytime.

Daewoo official visits Muscat
Chae Kwang-Ok, president of Tata Daewoo Commercial Vehicle,
visited Oman along with Jung Moon-Sung, managing director, overseas division and Lim, Joong-Woo, assistant manager, overseas marketing. Kwang-Ok congratulated Al Hashar & Co for its performance in selling Novus trucks in Oman, the sales of which have seen a 250 per cent growth in the last two years. The officials also discussed the business expectations for 2009. "We are proud of our association with Tata Daewoo commercial vehicle and look forward to taking the business to new levels in the coming years. Both the companies are committed to provide customers with excellence in the products and services offered by Tata Daewoo commercial vehicle and have ambitious plans for growth," said Werner Koch, CEO, Al Hashar Group.
HM's cup for OFO
Oman Fiber Optic (OFO) has been awarded the HM's cup for the year 2008, which is considered as a bench mark of a blue chip organisation in the sultanate. The award has been received by Mohammed Harith al Barashdy, general manager of OFC. The company has received this trophy in 2002 and 2007. In the year 2005, OFO has been awarded the certificate for the best ten industries.
The company produces optical fiber as well as optical fiber cables used for telecommunication application.

Hasnain wins Golden Pin
Volkswagen has awarded Sohraab Hasnain, Volkswagen brand manager at Wattayah Motors, with the Golden Pin in recognition of his exceptional achievements in 2008. The award was handed over at a ceremony held recently by the Volkswagen Middle East office in Dubai.
The Golden Pin recognises individuals for outstanding performance around a set of criteria, which includes degree of service provided, loyalty, franchise standards, sales volume and turnover, the use of specialist knowledge, standard and quality of work, analysis, target-setting, cost control and cost reduction. Only 50 such awards are presented each year worldwide. Commenting on his award, Sohraab Hasnain said, "I am delighted and honoured to receive this prestigious award from Volkswagen. At Wattayah Motors, we constantly strive to not only meet but also exceed our customers' expectations. Receiving the Golden Pin award will increase my motivation and dedication even further."

Nawras at Muscat Festival
Nawras is supporting the Muscat Festival with its tried and trusted 3G+ network. As Bronze sponsor, Nawras is operating stands at Qurm Natural Park and Naseem Gardens. Free welcome packs, special offers, product and service demonstrations as well as free activities for children are certain to draw the crowds. Adding to the excitement, a weekly draw will take place with each lucky winner finding themselves the proud owner of a diamond number. Nawras has introduced exciting offers exclusively for those going for the festival.

Showroom for modular kitchens
Ahmed Mohsin Trading (AMT) has dedicated 450 square metres of its showroom at Wadi Kabir to showcase modular kitchens from Nolte Küchen. "The third largest producer of fitted kitchens in the high and middle range segment from Germany, Nolte Küchen modules are designed to ensure time spent in the kitchen is as pleasant and productive as possible. We choose to be the exclusive dealers for the brand as it has a vast range, price that can fit anyone's pocket and quality which is unbeatable," said Hussain Ahmed Mohsin, director AMT.
Food Safety Academy
The National Hospitality Institute (NHI) has recently formed a partnership with Dubai-based hygiene and food consultancy, JohnsonDiversey Consulting (JDC) to create a Food Safety Academy, the first in the Gulf region. The timing of this partnership is perfect as it coincides with new food safety legislation in Oman with the Royal Decree 84/2008 coming into force in January 2009.
JDC has already worked with the Dubai Municipality's Food Safety Committee. "The Food Safety Academy is looking forward to working alongside the municipal body and the food industry in Oman to ensure that together we achieve the highest standards of safety in the Sultanate," said JDC's regional director Abdul Rashid.
All the food safety practices and policies followed by JDC are in strict accordance with the requirements of the Hazard Analysis and Critical Control Points (HACCP) system. Another new development at NHI
is a diploma level Food Safety Qualification certified by the American Hotel & Lodging Association, which is designed for people already working in the food industry to study over an extended period of time, enabling them to integrate theoretical study with practical application in the workplace.

Al Araimi winner
A three-month-long shopping bonanza at Al Araimi complex came to a close with the second winner of the Jeep Cherokee being announced amidst Christmas and New Year celebrations at the complex. The name of Mohammed Said Khalaf was drawn out by Muscat Municipality officials. Other lucky winners won vouchers worth RO2,000. The first mega draw was held last month in which Ali Saleh Said al Handhali won the first Jeep Cherokee. In addition to instant scratch 'n' win prizes, the complex has held 13 weekly draws since the start of the promotion during the holy month of Ramadan.

Oman Travel Mart in Feb
The international travel and tourism event of the year, Oman Travel Mart (OTM), is all set to be held from February 17 to 19 at the Oman International Exhibition Centre, Muscat. This was announced by Oman International Trade and Exhibitions (OITE). Now in its sixth successive year, OTM
presents a diverse range of destinations to Omanis, expatriates and international travellers. OTM provides the travel and tourism industry in the country and across the globe with greater opportunities to meet, network, negotiate and conduct business on a single platform and capitalise on the rapidly growing market in Oman and the Gulf.

Access to AAA's services
In an exclusive alliance aimed at giving Shell customers more value, Shell Oman and Arabian Automobile Alliance (AAA) have signed an agreement which gives holders of Shell Gold Fuel cards full access to AAA's services in Oman, UAE, Qatar and Bahrain. Faisal al Hashar, managing director of Shell Oman Marketing Company said, "Our Agreement with AAA gives extra value with no extra cost to our Gold Fuel Card users." The signing of the agreement was attended by AbdulSalam al Khalili, managing director of AAA and senior officials of both companies.

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