Onward and Upward for Oman Sail
In the seven years since its inception Oman Sail has established a significant presence on the international sailing scene. From around-the-world and other offshore record attempts and multiple victories in the Extreme Sail Series to hosting major dinghy world championships in Oman, the government-backed operation has made a big splash.
We sat down with CEO, David Graham, to find out more about what Oman Sail had achieved under his leadership and what might lie in store for the future.
SRM: What was the thinking behind creating the Oman Sail organisation in the first place?
David Graham: Ultimately it’s to do with three things: tourism, sports, and the marine industry. I will talk a little bit more about each of those elements but it is important to point out that all three of those things are underpinned by people development.
People development is really the bedrock. We have a staff of 205 people now of which 85 per cent are Omani. Each of them – not just the instructors and our sailors, but the accounts people, the HR division, the design division and the marketing division – each person has an individual development plan. As part of their plans they all have individual objectives that feed into the overall Oman Sail strategic plan.
Taking each of those pillars individually; tourism is a strategic aim for the country of Oman. It’s one of the selected diversification industries. When I say diversification, I mean away from fossil fuels. So, tourism is up and coming in Oman and we’ve selected sailing as the main platform for promoting the Sultanate of Oman as a tourist destination.
Essentially we target selected markets using sailing, sail boat races and any other sailing activity to promote the Sultanate of Oman. That initiative is going very, very well. We measure the return on investment for the government and we report back every year on that.
When we take part in a race or an event – such as the Route du Rhum for example - then we’ll have a big shore side exhibition with a whole bunch of our team there, dressed in national dress, working with the local Oman tourism office to portray Oman as a tourist destination.
We try to do that in areas which are the target markets for Oman. Obviously, we’re not hitting every single country, but if you have a look at which countries Oman Air flies direct into, you’ll see that over the years we’ve been active in those countries.
The second pillar is sport - where we are doing everything from the grassroots up. We’ve got a link with the Ministry of Education right the way up to taking part in international offshore races, the Olympics, the Extreme Sailing Series and so on. That’s a huge... READ THE FULL ARTICLE