Muscat: The Karwa Automobile Factory in the Special Economic Zone at Duqm represents a quantum leap in Omani industry with its capability to produce state-of-the-art bus bodies and chassis that will serve not just the Omani market but markets in the entire Gulf region.
With its factory going on steam, it has enhanced the value to the industrial sector in the Sultanate, and promises to establish other small and medium enterprises in its train that will serve the factory during the coming period, in addition to providing jobs to at least 300 Omani youth.
The factory aims to bring in bus manufacturing technology to the Sultanate, especially in the Special Economic Zone at Duqm, and to localise the manufacture of various buses. The project, officially inaugurated last week, came as part of the strategic investment partnership between the Sultanate, represented by the Oman Investment Authority, which owns 30 percent of the project, and the State of Qatar, represented by Mowasalat, which owns 70 percent stake.
The factory includes a group of technical workshops specialised in the bus industry, most notably cutting, welding, dyeing and assembly workshop. It also includes major multi-purpose warehouses for storing raw materials, components, dyes and chemicals used in the bus industry.
The implementation of the Karwa Automotive Project began in 2019 in the Special Economic Zone in Duqm on an area of 568,000 square metres with an investment of $71 million, and despite the challenges of the Covid-19 pandemic, the project was able to produce the first bus in November 2021.
Jassim bin Saif Al-Sulaiti, Minister of Transport of the State of Qatar, stressed the strong relationship between the Sultanate of Oman and Qatar, thanks to the wise guidance of His Majesty Sultan Haitham bin Tarik and His Highness Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani, Emir of the State of Qatar, and their keenness to develop these relations in various fields.
The transport minister of Qatar told the Oman News Agency that Karwa Bus Factory, located in the Special Economic Zone in Duqm, represents one of the most important strategic projects between the two countries that are working to open investment horizons in many vital and promising sectors, thus enhancing their efforts towards achieving economic diversification through the development of a group of related industries.
He added that the factory will contribute to supporting the Qatari market’s needs of buses, especially since its production plans target the Qatari and Omani markets in particular, and the region’s markets in general, in pursuit of global markets.
For his part, Dr. Saad bin Ahmed Al Mohannadi, Chairman of the Board of Directors of Karwa Automotive Company, explained that the company’s factory in the Special Economic Zone in Duqm is the only factory in the Gulf region in which the entire bus body is manufactured and part of the chassis is manufactured.
He said the company sought to transfer the bus industry to the Special Economic Zone in Duqm, enhance value to the industrial sector in the Sultanate of Oman, and establish small and medium enterprises that will serve the factory during the coming period, in addition to providing job opportunities for Omani youth.
He added that the company has a production line for electric buses and that the company’s target markets at the moment are the Gulf and African markets.
Dr. Ibrahim bin Ali Al Balushi, CEO of Karwa Automotive Company, stressed that the Karwa Bus Factory is equipped to manufacture electric buses in the future, as the factory’s facilities have been designed to go in line with this trend and the changes taking place in this sector, praising the company’s capabilities, working human competencies, facilities, technical services, and the large areas through which it can manufacture electric buses.
Dr. Ibrahim Al Balushi stressed that the factory focuses on the process of quality control and high specifications so that it can produce buses with a high value that reflects its value in other markets, noting that 25 percent of the factory’s products will be allocated to the local market and the rest to the Gulf and regional markets.
He explained that the local market is one of the target markets, as Karwa Company participated in several tenders in the Sultanate of Oman for semi-governmental bodies to supply buses and is currently working with several bodies to supply buses to them, as this type of industry needs internal support in the early stages of its sustainability and help it advance, and its results will be impressive.
With inputs from ONA