Manufacturing Matters: The rise of Gen Z Omani micro-manufacturers

Oman is a country that makes things. From car batteries, cables, footwear, ceramic tiles, sanitary ware to luxury fragrances, the products manufactured in the sultanate are incredibly diverse. Representing 9.5% of GDP, employing over 200,000 people and exported to more than 130 countries, manufacturing is at the heart of Oman Vision 2040 and the topic of discussion for Wednesday evening’s Tejarah Talks at the Civil Aviation Authority in Al Hail North.

Breathing new life into the sector is the growth of Gen Z managed micro-manufacturers – small Omani businesses typically employing fewer than 10 people that are catering to a specialized market, one generally neglected or forgotten by larger companies. They are often innovative twists on old ideas, completely new innovations or throwbacks to lost ways of doing things.

According to Maymuna Al Adawi of the Ministry of Commerce, Industry & Investment Promotion (MoCIIP) and Tejarah Talks organizer, though small in size, many of these micro-manufacturers are becoming an economic force to be reckoned with. A revolution in manufacturing is coming. The power of automation and the dropping of the costs of tools is altering the landscape of how things get made in Oman. In fact, the micro-manufacturing sector is part of a much larger creative economy that represents 3% of global GDP, creating around 30 million jobs and generating over US$2 trillion in revenue

“Micro-manufacturing is nothing new,” explained Al Adawi, “but what we’re seeing is its resurgence, from women’s fashion to precision engineering, where innovation in design is creating products that meet the needs of today’s sophisticated, eco-conscious Omani consumer.”

This new breed of creative Omani micro-manufacturers includes artists, builders, programmers, engineers, bakers and graphic designers, all specializing in custom products, small quantities and fast turnaround – making everything from high-end fashion, organic cosmetics, to frankincense infused chocolate.

“These are creative people that just want to design and make cool things. They want to make stuff and they want to do that personally,” emphasized Al Adawi.

Today, small batch Omani manufacturers do not need large factories. Instead, they require compact, micro-manufacturing facilities tailored to small, flexible production runs like those offered by Muscat’s Innovation Factory and the Makers Oman Centre.

“A few years ago, two guys with laptops described an Internet start-up. Now it describes a micro-manufacturing firm,” says Al Adawi.

Organized by MoCIIP in partnership with the Ministry of Culture, Sports & Youth, Oman Business Forum, HSBC and SOHAR Port & Freezone the 7:30pm Wednesday 18 May Tejarah Talks panel includes His Highness Sayyid Dr. Adham Al Said, Founder, The Firm; Cinzia Farisè, CEO, Oman Cables; Nadia Al Zakwani, Managing Director, Endemage;  Eng. Hilal Al Shibli, General Manager, Makers Oman Centre; and Firas Al Balushi, CEO, Innovation Factory.