Saturday, February 18, 2006
Picture: The Executive Director of the Sanad program "inaugurating" a Khimji Mart supermarket in Madinat Qaboos.
According to the Oman Chamber of Commerce website and Omanet (the government's official information website), Sanad is a fund for supporting and developing small projects. The fund provides loans to unemployed Omanis between the ages of 18 and 40 to develop and own their own businesses. The fund works with the Ministry of Social Development and the Ministry of Manpower, and in fact both ministers are on the fund's board of directors. To put it in simple terms every year the Ministry of Manpower adds certain professions in certain areas to the Omanisation list, and the fund trains and finances Omanis to takeover those jobs. This has been most visible in one particular area: grocery shops.
As I have written before, the Omanisation of grocery shops has forced most of the Indians who used to run neighborhood grocery shops and corner shops to close down. Unfortunately, at least where I live, I haven't seen any Omanis take up the opportunity to open shops where the Indians used to be. This has become a boon to supermarkets and gas station convenience stores. And now, some of the supermarket chains have decided to open smaller stores in the middle of residential areas. For example Al Fair has announced plans to open a few small stores in 2006. And here we have an example of Khimji Mart, a supermarket that only had a handful of stores for more than a decade but which in the last year has expanded at a very fast pace outside the capital in areas where the Omanisation of grocery stores has eliminated competition. And now they're in Madinat Qaboos. And they have the head of Sanad opening their store! Good PR for Khimji Mart, very bad PR for Sanad. Bad call, dude.
You might want to read this)