By Kabeer Yousuf -
MUSCAT — As a major chunk of leading companies in Oman are getting their advertisements, designing and even printing works out of the country, the Sultanate is losing several millions of rials to its neighbouring countries every year.
This revenue which is otherwise supposed to be circulating in the country’s economy is pumped out by companies as diverse as banking to telecommunication and from automotive to hospitality and chartered accountants firms.
It is said that while some firms are paying RO 25,000 every month against ‘creativity fees’, some major business houses which make use of Sultanate’s trade licence, related entity documentations and other relaxed facilities are pumping out nearly RO 4,000-5,000 each year to the glitz and glam of another country.
Whopping 80 per cent of the total expenditure on this is going out of the country and the players in the country are vying for the 20 per cent left behind.
“The reason is nothing but acute dearth of quality work to a great extent,” avers Louai Alasfahani, a wizard who took the glory of Arab design at the pinnacle of global attention when he was chosen a member of the grand jury at the New York Advertising Festival 2012, representing Oman for the first time.
“When every single person in Oman can buy a trade licence paying a nominal fee and start a small designing and printing house with no expertise whatsoever, probably is ignorant that he or she is harming the entire nation as a whole,” Louai, who has recently won a coveted award for his work of stunning and highly conversing design for Oman’s ‘e-post’, which has also brought him several international accolades, said.
Besides the quoted reasons for the top-notch companies’ step mother policy towards the Sultanate’s printing industry, there are several ambitious but aimless youngsters who work in the comfort of their homes and advertise themselves among their friends’ circles, causing serious damage to the sector.
“Given the scenario pulling backward, how can you improve the tacit talents of the country? How can you give jobs to more Omanis in the creative industry? How can you train them when 80 per cent of the advertising and marketing money is spent outside? And how can you achieve the Omanisation goals?”, Louai, the heart and soul behind ‘bloganubis’ questions.
Additional facts and figures are rather shocking. It is said that a major Omani telecommunications provider is spending nearly RO 30,000 every month and RO 360,000 every year across the borders. A leading hotel in Oman is not allowed to print even the business cards for its staff from Oman. And a leading chartered accountants firm said their hands were tied as they were strictly instructed not to get any advertising or printing work done locally.
“These are truth; only truth; and nothing but truth. And these are my experiences in the market over the past several years’ visit to the country and my close interaction with the market for more than one year”, Louai, who boasts of more than two decades exposure to the multi-ethnic, multi-cultural identity creation across the globe, and now based in Muscat with Paragon Marketing Communications, along with his partner Diana Dimitrova said.
While the registration and other commercial licence procedures are stringent, what happened is the works are getting exported to other countries.
Keeping aside the reasons, he says the Omani clientele who depend upon the so-called designers from other countries for their eternal logo and designs often don’t recognise that many a times they are made to accept works which are far from original.
“Yes, I have burning examples of plagiarism and instances where Omani companies are delivered with a copy work of some international brand. A leading brand in Oman has the idea derived from Salvation Army’s video, and most importantly, an iconic project in Oman has a copied logo which I had duly pointed out to them. In short, these mammoth spending have to often compromise for a less quality service,” Louai, who is the creative head of Paragon Marketing Communications.