Rebecca Olson, executive director of the Muscat-based Oman American Business Center, speaks to OmanGBnews.com about her role, Oman’s future as a key business destination, how she spends her downtime, and her love of Welsh cakes.
What are your main responsibilities? I manage the Oman American Business Center, together with the Board of Directors. I help connect people and companies to the organization and expand their networks in the greater business community, constantly add new benefits and other programs that bring value to our member companies, plan events that interest the members, and can always be seen buzzing around networking, meeting stakeholders, and coming up with ideas and new ways to highlight our members.
What are your company's Unique Selling Points (USPs) in Oman? We are the most active business networking community in Oman, with over 30 events per year, and are not exclusive only to US and Omani companies, but to all who hope to connect, promote and stay in the know about business happenings in the Sultanate. We are also the official affiliate of the US Chamber of Commerce here in Oman. We help US companies enter Oman, and Omani companies explore business in the US.
What achievement are you most proud of I am really glad that since taking on this role at the organization, member feedback has been extremely positive.I care about each member and the experience they’re having in the organization, so this means a lot. People love the active, non-stop nature, back to back events, and opportunities to connect with others that we’ve provided, and I’ve certainly helped to multiply the number of initiatives and events. I also helped create our brand new website, which is a hit.
What would you still like to achieve (in life, leisure or business)? What a deep question! Professionally, I’d like to see the OABC grow and specifically, plan trade delegations in both directions (Oman - US).I love Oman, and hope to do everything I can to assist in efforts to attract more foreign investors here. Personally, I’d like to see my kids grow up to be kind, smart and compassionate people who go far in whichever field they choose, but I suppose that is their own achievement!
What do you think makes Oman an attractive destination to do business? Oman is a peaceful, naturally stunning, hidden gem. Its people are generous, kind and hospitable. In business, the size of the community and the accessibility of the country’s government and business leaders is unique.If you do well here, everyone knows quickly. That can work the opposite way too, but I still think this can be a huge plus for those looking to enter a new market well.
Oman's location is a huge plus. Close to key markets, on global shipping routes, great relationships with neighboring countries… Finally, Oman's government wants to make things work for investors and is flexible and willing to work with companies to find solutions and ways to invest here. There are a number of free zones, state of the art ports, and industrial estates…I’m glad I’m here in Oman at this time.
What sectors do you think will thrive in Oman and the UK in the coming years and why? Logistics + Tourism. There is a lot of emphasis being placed on logistics, especially following the Tanfeedh initiative, and Oman already has a very strong infrastructure. China will have a part to play here, and of course Asyad has a lot to manage as things continue to grow. Tourism: as far as I can see, the numbers (of hotel rooms, tourists, cruise ships docking, etc) go up annually and I think steady growth is always a good thing.
What is the best business advice you have ever received? Thank people well when they do something for you. This is a really big deal here, and in every country I’ve worked in.
Favourite destinations in Oman and why? I really like the Daminiyat Islands. That water is so clear and it feels like a day trip to the Maldives! Not really possible to pick one favorite place, but that was the last place I went for a day trip, so will go with this one for now.
Favourite destinations in the UK and why? The Cotswolds. It’s the cutest place on earth and every American loves the Christmas movie “The Holiday" with Jude Law and Cameron Diaz and wants to celebrate the holidays in a little cottage there. I also love Wales and their yummy Welsh cakes.
Favourite restaurant in Oman and UK? Turkish House is always a favorite of our guests (and apparently many others, on TripAdvisor!). Big fan of their consistency, it’s wonderful every time, plus it’s family-friendly. Tayyabs in East London is a fav when we visit friends there, but we have to deal with a wait, which is always a good sign.
Describe your character in five words? Friendly, honest, driven, creative, quick.
What are your hobbies? Songwriting and guitar, swimming/hiking exploring Oman, camping, board games.
What five things would you take to a desert island? Knife, net, flare gun, Bible, blanket.
What public figures do you most admire and why? Personally: Mother Theresa, for her compassion, never-ceasing service, and perspective. Publicly: His Majesty the Sultan for his amazingly peaceful reign, generosity, wisdom, love for his people…I think H.M. should receive a Nobel Prize for his contribution to the whole region.