Oman’s sovereign wealth fund is shifting its tourism and real estate investments as part of a long-running effort to diversify the Persian Gulf country’s economy.
The $17 billion Oman Investment Authority will transfer a tourism development project as well as resorts to the Omran Tourism Development Company, or Omran Group, according to Bloomberg.
Omran Group was established by the Omani government in 2005 to encourage economic diversification and to attract foreign investment, according to the report. The transfer is meant to “drive growth for Omran Group and strengthen its role in supporting economic diversification,” a statement said.
Oman has a population of about 5 million people and its economy is heavily dependent on natural resource production. Petroleum activities accounted for 36 percent of gross domestic product in 2018, up 7 percent from the year prior, according to the Brookings Institution.
The lack of economic diversification means Oman’s financial health is heavily dependent on the price of natural resources. Lower oil prices and the coronavirus pandemic have pushed the country’s budget deficit to the highest in the region.
S&P Global Ratings gave Oman’s credit an A rating as recently as 2015, but that has since been downgraded to junk status because of growing external debt.
The economic situation of the last year has also affected Middle East sovereign wealth funds’ investment in foreign real estate. It has constrained their ability to capitalize on opportunities created by the pandemic, namely the overall drop in real estate values. [Bloomberg] — Dennis Lynch