Oman’s population, currently growing at 3.5% per year, reached 4.4 million in 2015 up from 2.2 million in 2000. In 2012, the population growth rate reached 9.5% mainly due to a high growth rate of 17.7% of the expatriate population. Life expectancy has increased from 72 years in 2000 to almost 77 years in2015, and the levels of maternal and infant mortality reached 17 per 100,000 live birth and 10 per 1,000 live births in 2015 respectively.
Expatriates in Oman made up 43% of the total population in 2013 compared to 27% in 2005. The share of the population below 30 years of age decreased form 89% in 2000 to 69.5% in 2014 of the total population.
Education in Oman is offered for everyone from grade 1 till grade 12, though attendance is not mandatory at any level. The gross primary enrollment rate grew up to 110.3% in 2014, from 93.4% in 2000; at the primary level, the Gender Parity has been achieved; and at the tertiary level, the gross enrollment ratio jumped to 28.6% in 2011 (latest updates) with a Gender Parity Index (GPI) of 1.4. From 2011 until 2014, the number of students enrolled in tertiary education increased by 43.4%. Additionally, adults literacy rate averaged 93.9% in 2015, rising up from 81.4% in 2000.
Oman’s GDP (Purchasing Power Parity, constant 2011 prices), being the second lowest among the GCC countries, leveled at Int$ 161.6 billion in 2015, with a Gross National Income (GNI) per capita (Purchasing Power Parity) at Int$ 37,340, surpassing the average GNI per capita in the Arab region ofInt$16,455. Oman’s economy grew at an average rate of 4.4% over the last five years. At the same time, the country recorded the lowest inflation rate among the GCC countries in 2015 at 0.2%. Mining and quarrying, particularly the oil sector, remains the biggest contributor to economic growth (34.5% of GDP in2015); moreover, the Omani government relies on the oil revenues, which constituted 78.7% of total government revenues in 2014, to finance its budget. Oman has experienced cash deficits for several years over the last decade. Recently affected by the oil price decline and increased public expenditures, the cash deficit soared to 17% of GDP in 2015, up from 0.3% in 2013. Without further fiscal adjustments, the debt-to-GDP ratio, estimated at 20.6% in 2015, is expected to rise to high levels if fiscal buffers were to be preserved. The Omani Government is increasingly under pressure to speed up a more diversified economy, raise non-oil revenues, and enhance the competitiveness of the private sector.
The Omani economy depends, to a large extent, on developments in the world oil market, with oil exports amounting to 84% of Oman’s total exports in 2014. Oman has been investing in diversifying its economy away from oil and has succeeded in increasing the shares of natural gas exports and manufacturing exports that have more than quadrupled between 2006 and 2012.
Oman is highly trade-dependent with a trade-to-GDP ratio of 115.4% in 2014, recording a trade surplus of 1.9 billion Omani Rials in 2015. Omani imports from Arab countries have quadrupled in the last fifteen years reaching 5.3 billion Omani Rials in 2015.
In addition to the GCC countries, Oman’s main trading partners include EU and East and South Asian countries. The country is a member of the World Trade Organization (WTO), the Gulf Co-operation Council (GCC) and the Greater Arab Free Trade Agreement (GAFTA). A free-trade agreement between Oman and the United States entered into force in 2009. In 2008, being a member of the GCC, Oman has signed with Singapore a Free-Trade Agreement (FTA) that entered into force in 2013. In the same context Oman signed an FTA with EFTA member states (Iceland, Liechtenstein, Norway and Switzerland) which entered into force in 2014.
Despite the government’s nationalization policies, Oman’s private sector is highly reliant on expatriates. Out of the 1.7 million private sector employees, the non-national workers, with valid labor cards, reached 1.5 million in 2013. However, in 2014, the Government has further limited the participation of expatriates in the private sector in an attempt to encourage the national labor force to join the private sector. This strategy has been adopted in response to an unemployment rate levelling at 6.3% in 2015, the highest among the GCC countries.
Oman is the largest oil and natural gas producer in the Middle East that is not a member of the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC). Like many neighbor countries, Oman is highly dependent on its energy resources. Crude oil production peaked at 350 million barrels in 2000, it then dropped to 259 million barrels in 2007. Due to enhanced oil recovery techniques, crude oil production increased again to 358 million barrels in 2015.
Oman is an important oil exporter. Similar to production, crude oil exports declined from 332 million barrels, its highest level, in 2000 to 217 million barrels in 2008. This level increased again to 304.2 million barrels in 2013, slightly fell to 292.2 million barrels in 2014, but then increased to 308.1 million barrels in 2015.
This overview has been drafted by the ADP team based on most available data as of 30 September 2016.