Entrepreneurship is the way forward in Oman, says National Youth Commission

Sayyid Nasr Badr Albusaidi (right) with Ahmed Hassan al Lawati

Muscat - 

The National Youth Commission (NYC) has expressed its commitment to support small and medium enterprises (SMEs), and encourage the spirit of entrepreneurship among Omani youth. But NYC officials told Muscat Daily that to attain that goal both the government and the youth need to ask some tough questions.

“It takes 15 minutes over the Internet and US$10 to establish an LLC (Limited Liability Company) in Hong Kong but it may take months to start up a company in Oman. We need to understand the difficulties that the youth face when it comes to becoming entrepreneurs,” said Sayyid Nasr Badr Albusaidi, chairperson of NYC’s Communications and Public Relations Committee.

While stressing that the government needs to take steps to promote entrepreneurship, Albusaidi said that some of the finer points of existing policies, including Omanisation, should be looked into. “Why should micro-businesses, which have up to four employees, [be compelled to] employ Omanis. For example, if an Omani entrepreneur has a software company… he won’t be able to employ Omanis because we don’t have the necessary competency skill sets,” he said.

“So, why not allow micro companies to have zero-Omanisation until the competency levels develop,” added Albusaidi, who is also the founding member of Entrepreneurs Organization’s Oman chapter.

“We also need to answer why some people think we have a lazy work culture,” he said.

Albusaidi said that the NYC has raised these issues with the government. “I receive between 50-100 e-mails per day from young Omanis on such topics and I personally communicate these to relevant government departments,” he said.

Another NYC member, Ahmed Hassan al Lawati, added that the commission is also aiming at raising the professional competency levels among Omani youth. “Injecting the SME culture is one of our primary goals. In addition, we want to improve the level of professionalism and help them (the youth) to tie up with the private sector. [In this way], they can compete with other professionals at regional as well as international levels,” said Lawati, who is a member of NYC’s Communications and Public Relations Committee as well as the Youth Initiative Committee.

He said that NYC intends to work with various stakeholders in government and private sectors to address these issues by improving education and training facilities on one hand and job creation on the other.

“Besides entrepreneurship, the NYC will also promote employment in private sector. We need to make the youth understand that private sector is the future of the country. Creating awareness to that extent is part of our goal,” he said.

The NYC has also joined hands with the Shura Council to form the Human Resources Committee to address issues related to unemployment and job creation.

Besides, in its efforts to reach out to the youth, NYC has organised interactive sessions across the country. Since January this year, the commission has organised three exploratory sessions in Buraimi, Sharqiyah and Dakhliyah. The next session will be held in North Batinah in May; two more are planned for the coming months in Dhofar and Musandam.

“Our immediate goal is to reach out to the youth and understand their concerns. But most importantly, the NYC will function as a bridge between the youth, government and the private sector. In fact, it is our main mandate,” said Albusaidi.

Besides, the NYC has plans to collaborate with youth bodies in neighbouring GCC nations and other countries. “Soon we are going to travel to Dubai to learn from their experiences and start from where they’ve ended,” said Lawati.

Also on the agenda are regional and international youth conferences. “The first one will hopefully be held, if not this year, then next year. It will be an annual event thereafter,” Albusaidi said.

NYC is working closely with the National Human Rights Commission (NHRC), too, and has set up a joint working group to undertake projects to spread awareness on human rights and related issues.

Lawati said that a joint interactive event will be held in the beginning of May to discuss some of the relevant issues such as the concept of citizenship, their rights and duties.

“The problem we face in Oman is that people don’t know the law and they don’t know their rights. We want to invite the youth to understand what challenges they face in terms of the human rights agenda,” he said.

“While we want to spread awareness about the rights of the citizens, we also want the youth to understand their responsibilities and duties,” added Lawati, while stressing the need to discuss the subject at school levels. “We also plan to visit the central jail in an effort to understand some of the issues concerning human rights.”

Albusaidi added that the NYC will undertake awareness campaigns on several other youth topics. “We are going to discuss issues, some of which could be even considered ‘taboo’, such as AIDS, drug abuse, child abuse and human trafficking. We will support existing campaigns, and also welcome new and creative ideas to resolve these issues,” he said.

NYC has also found social media as an important tool to reach out to the youth. “You have to speak with the youth in their own language. We are present on the social media and encourage the youth to approach us. We make it a point to respond to such communication instantly or, if not possible, within 12-24 hours,” Albusaidi said.

The NYC was established under Royal Decree 117/2011 to address the concerns and aspirations of the youth. The members of the commission were appointed in September 2012.

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