The interview was conducted with the manager of the investment department of Al-Mazyounah free zone, Mr. Seed.
Author: What is the vision of your free zone?
Mr. Seed: Our free zone’s vision is a free commercial zone that participates in increasing the regional competition of Oman with regard to attracting and developing local and international investments.
Author: What marketing strategy do you use?
Mr. Seed: The marketing activities are mainly done by Madayn offline. Madayn actively uses publishing in magazines and trade events in Dubai. For example, earlier this year, our free zone took part in Gulfood 2020. It is a food and hospitality event held in Dubai, and we took the opportunity to promote our investment opportunities to the large and diverse audience attending the event. In the previous year, Madayn promoted the free zone investment opportunities at an industry forum in Marocco, where representatives from many other Arab countries were present. The use of online marketing is also part of our overall marketing strategy. For example, the free zone issues press releases to appear in online magazines.
Author: How good is the free zone at satisfying the needs and the wants of customers?
Mr. Seed: The free zone is quite successful in meeting customers’ needs. We provide investors with attractive incentives, such as customs duty exemptions, lower Omanization rates, and no minimum capital requirements. Yemenis can enter the free zone and find employment there without visas. Besides, our investors are particularly satisfied with the one-stop-station established in our free zone. It helps investors complete all the necessary procedures easier and faster.
Author: How do you reach your potential customers?
Mr. Seed: As I mentioned, we promote opportunities available in our free zones to investors at various events, in which we participate as part of our marketing activities. Madayn also organizes meetings with investors to discuss investment opportunities. In addition, the free zone has a website with information on the available opportunities, investment benefits, and contact details for investors willing to find out more. Potential investors can also subscribe to our newsletters and receive news and notifications about available opportunities in their inboxes.
Author: How does the free zone make use of social media?
Mr. Seed: There are accounts on Twitter and Instagram held by Madayn. The accounts are used to make posts about the free zones and industrial cities in Oman, including Al-Mazyounah free zone. On these social media, you can find news posted by Madayn, as well as advertisements promoting available investing opportunities. Madayn also has an account on YouTube, but it is paid little attention to. So, as you can see, there are no separate social media accounts for Al-Mazyounah free zone, which somewhat hinders its ability to distinguish itself from local and international competitors, such as Sohar free zone.
Author: What are the most important needs and wants of your investors?
Mr. Seed: Good infrastructure is, perhaps, the most important investors’ need because it facilitates doing business. Highways, airports, communications, warehouses, and other infrastructures are significant characteristics that investors consider when deciding where to invest. In Al-Mazyounah, constant efforts are made to improve infrastructure. Currently, it has multiple facilities, such as warehouses and customs offices, as well as the infrastructure necessary for running a business, including electricity, telecoms, water, transport networks, sewage, and others. In the current situation of the coronavirus pandemic, investors’ need for online services significantly increased.
Author: How do they decide on the free zone?
Mr. Seed: They make their investment decisions mainly based on word of mouth. Investors constantly communicate with their industry peers to share information and advice. Therefore, we try to make sure we make a good reputation among our current investors. Yemeni investors are particularly motivated by the location of the free zone, that is, its closeness to Yemen, and no requirements for a visa.
Author: Geographically, where do your current investors come from?
Mr. Seed: The vast majority of our current investors are from Yemen and Oman. This is related to the location of the free zone. Since it borders Yemen, Yemeni investors are attracted by an opportunity of trading with Oman.
Author: What sectors receive the most amount investments from current customers?
Mr. Seed: Our customers mostly invest in warehouses and car showrooms. The free zone is particularly attractive to investors willing to locate warehouse facilities in the region. In addition, the zone encourages investments in car showrooms because attracting firms specialized in trading automobiles, both new and used, will boost the economy of the region and help further develop the transport infrastructure in the free zone.
Author: Who are your main competitors?
Mr. Seed: Locally, the free zone is competing with Salalah free zone and Sohar free zone. Sohar free zone occupies a large area with a port, which is its main competitive advantage. Salalah free zone is located not far from Al-Mazyounah and has similar incentives, but it also has access to a port and an airport. Internationally, Al-Mazyounah is competing with Jabel Ali free zone in Dubai. It is a strong competitor, providing attractive incentives and excellent infrastructure to investors and housing more than 7,000 companies.
Author: What do competitors do better in satisfying customers?
Mr. Seed: In Dubai, the city is big, and it has all the needed services such as airports, foreign schools, and many other daily services, which Al-Mazyounah free zone does not have. Locally, the locations of both the Salalah free zone and Sohar free zone are on the coast, which helps them be close to marine navigation. In fact, all our main competitors have access to ports, which allows companies located in those free zones to reach more customers via ships. Salalah free zone better satisfies the needs of investors willing to invest in logistics, R&D, and manufacturing. It has also speeded up the process of licensing, so its investors can obtain a license in an hour. In Al-Mazyounah, our one-stop station provides services to investors within three hours. As for Sohar free zone, it attracts those who aim to invest in logistics, oil, and petrochemicals. Besides, companies in Sohar and Salalah can be incorporated online, while our free zone does not provide investors with such an opportunity.
Author: What things to satisfy investors’ wants does the free zone do better than competitors?
Mr. Seed: The location of the Al-Mazyounah free zone is very close to Yemen, which cuts a lot of time and money for the Yemeni investors. As I mentioned, the free zone also does not require Yemenis to obtain visas. As a result, our free zone satisfies the needs of Yemeni investors better than competitors. In addition, Al-Mazyounah offers better incentives than Sohar free zone. For example, we offer our investors a 30-year tax holiday and a 10% Omanization rate, while Sohar offers only 25 years of tax holiday and requires a 15% Omanization rate for the first ten years.