On 17 October 2019, Sultan Qaboos University (SQU) and the Oman Chamber of Commerce and Industry (OCCI), held a Steering Committee Meeting for the OCCI Research Chair in Economic Studies at the university’s Office of the Deputy Vice-Chancellor for Postgraduate Studies and Research. The meeting was chaired by SQU’s Deputy Vice-Chancellor for Postgraduate Studies and Research, Dr. Rahma Al-Mahrooqi. SQU representatives at the meeting were Prof. Abdullah Ambusaidi, the Director of the university’s Humanities Research Centre, and Dr. Ashraf Mishrif, the Research Chair holder. The OCCI was represented by Dr. Ahmed Al Hooti, the Chairman of its Economic Affairs, Research & Studies Committee and Mr. Mohammed Al Hussaini, Director of the OCCI’s Economic Research & Studies Department.
SQU and the OCCI signed the agreement to establish the Research Chair in Economic Studies in February 2017, with the Chair being officially launched in April 2019. By joining their efforts in establishing the Chair, the two organizations seek to build stronger mutual ties, while also fostering greater understanding of the main economic, business and development issues affecting the country’s social and economic development. The Research Chair was founded with the purpose of conducting high-quality research in economic areas that are vital for Oman’s socio-economic growth and development.
The Steering Committee meeting began with Dr. Ashraf Mishrif offering an overview of the Research Chair’s scope, in addition to the Strategic Plan for the Chair’s initial three-year period. Dr. Ashraf explained to the committee how the Strategic Plan would ensure that the Research Chair fulfills its vision of becoming a center of excellence in economic studies through the provision of cutting-edge research and advisory and training services that are central to shaping the future of Oman’s social and economic development.
In order to realize this vision, the Research Chair has the stated mission of conducting applied research in economics, finance, business, and related disciplines, in addition to providing research-based policy advice and consulting services that are vital in decision making at policy and corporate levels. The Chair also works towards creating an environment designed to deliver tangible change by creating awareness and promoting private sector-lead economic development in Oman, while helping the country unlock the potential of the private sector in economic development and achieving higher levels of economic and social inclusion. The final part of the Chair’s mission, Dr. Ashraf continued, is serving as a center for capacity building in research and human development at SQU and across the country through the provision of graduate programs and training services.
Dr. Ashraf next described the Research Chair’s overarching objectives. These include producing cutting-edge research in applied economics, business, finance and other areas related to Oman’s economy, helping Oman achieve its strategic goals as outlined in the country’s national development plans and Vision 2040, and providing advice and guidance to the OCCI and other stakeholders in making decisions that contribute to economic and social development through evidence-based policy recommendations. Further Chair objectives detailed at the meeting are supporting SQU staff and students in the acquisition of knowledge and skills in economic studies, and training a new generation of Omani researchers, professionals, and entrepreneurs with the cultural and scholarly tools required to lead economic growth. Further core objectives include promoting policy change to support private enterprise and educate stakeholders on the role of the private sector in diversifying growth, driving competitiveness, and achieving sustainable economic development, and establishing links and collaborative relations between the Research Chair and other research institutions, the private sector and policymakers in Oman and globally.
The Steering Committee then discussed the Research Chair’s key themes and research areas, which encompass economic diversification and development, private sector development, governance, regulations and business environment, trade and foreign direct investment, and financial, fiscal and monetary policies. The committee engaged in a discussion about the Research Chair’s current and planned research programs, teaching activities, training provision, participation in local and international conferences, publications, and public engagement, including how these tie into the Chair’s Strategic Plan and scope. Representatives from both SQU and the OCCI concluded the meeting by offering their full support for the ongoing and future activities of the Chair and expressed their confidence that Dr. Ashraf’s continuing efforts and initiatives would ensure that the Research Chair makes a strong, positive impact on the sultanate’s social and economic development.