Monday, August 1, 2016

Introduction to Knowledge Oasis Muscat

Knowledge Oasis Muscat (“KOM”) is a 20,000-square-metre technology park situated near Muscat International Airport, whose objective is to support technology-oriented businesses. In addition to the advantages available in other industrial estates, it also provides technical support and services for businesses established at KOM.
KOM is managed by the Public Establishment for Industrial Estates (the “PEIE”).
KOM offers various advantages to foreign investors:
  1. KOM companies may have 100% foreign ownership.
  2.  Another major advantage is that KOM companies, even those with 100% foreign ownership, are only required to have a minimum share capital of OMR 20,000.
  3. The Omanization target in KOM currently starts at 10% for the first year, with 5% incremental annual increases up to a maximum of 25% within five years. (This compares with a figure of 35% outside KOM.)
  4. KOM companies may be registered with the Tender Board regardless of their share capital and classification and are not required to fulfil the minimum capital requirements for such registration.
  5. No personal income tax is payable, and there are no foreign exchange controls.
  6. The cluster of information technology-related companies in KOM is in itself an incentive for other technology-oriented companies to establish their presence in the estate.

Tenant selection procedure
Tenants must meet at least one of the following four criteria:
  1. They must operate within a technology or knowledge-based enterprise sector, and must commit to the research, development or commercial exploitation of information and communications technologies (“ICT”) in any genuine technology field.
  2. They must specialize in the design or development of products or processes in areas such as telecoms, IT, the internet, new media, etc.
  3. The workforce must comprise a high proportion of “knowledge workers”. A minimum of 25% of the workforce must be qualified technologists, scientists or engineers.
  4. Finally, there is a further category of secondary tenants whose business is to provide services to primary tenants. Permissible activities include financial services and other convenience and professional services.

Application process
  1. The application process involves the submission of a duly completed application form with supporting documents followed by an invitation for an interview/presentation before the selection committee of KOM.
  2. If the application is approved, an offer letter is sent detailing the terms and conditions.
  3. The main condition is the payment of advance rent for one year (minimum OMR 5, 400 for a space of 50 square metres).
  4. Once the rent has been paid, the company can then be registered as a KOM company with the Ministry of Commerce & Industry (the “MOCI”).

A memorandum of understanding (“MOU”) will then be entered into between KOM and the company leading to the commencement of the company’s operation.