The Research Chair for Economic Studies is a joint project between Sultan Qaboos University and Oman Chamber of Commerce and Industry. It aims to foster greater understanding of the main economic, business and development issues affecting economic and social development in the Sultanate of Oman. It also aims to support the country in achieving the goals set out in its national development plans and Vision 2040.

The establishment of the Chair comes at a critical juncture in Omani history as the Sultanate embarks on a comprehensive program to turn the country into a modern, developed nation by 2040. The Chair is expected to play a vital role in address key economic and social challenges facing the nation; provide new insights, guidance and support to achieve greater diversification and international competitiveness; and contribute towards the creation of knowledge economy.

The Chair will operate as a catalyst to build bridges between the university, the private sector and the government for greater impact in our collective efforts to modernize the nation and a facilitator for capacity building in research and human development, while turning Sultan Qaboos University into a center of excellence in economic studies. 


The Research Chair is a new multidisciplinary research forum. It conducts and supports applied research and empirical studies in economics, finance, business and related disciplines, as well as providing research-based policy advice and consulting services that are vital in decision making at policy and corporate levels.  

Underpinned by extensive, independent research, the Chair works towards creating an environment designed to deliver tangible change by creating awareness, promoting and supporting private sector-led economic development in Oman. The work done under the Chair will ultimately help the country to unlock the potential of the private sector in economic development and achieve higher levels of economic and social inclusion in line with Oman’s national development plans and Vision 2040.

The Chair will focus on building research capacity and human development at SQU and across the Sultanate through the provision of graduate programs and supervision of graduate students.

The Oman Chamber of Commerce and Industry Research Chair will be a center of excellence in economic studies by providing cutting edge research, advisory and training services that are central in shaping the future of Oman’s social and economic development.

The Chair will have six overarching objectives:

  • Produce cutting-edge research in applied economics, business, finance and development and other related areas to Oman economy.
  • Help Oman realize its strategic goals as outlined in national development plans and visions.
  • Provide advice and guidance to Oman Chamber of Commerce and Industry and other stakeholders in making decisions that contribute to the country’s economic and social development through evidence-based policy recommendations.
  • Support staff and students at Sultan Qaboos University to acquire knowledge and skills in areas related to economic studies, as well as training and equipping a new generation of Omani researchers, professionals and entrepreneurs with the cultural and scholarly tools to lead economic growth.  
  • Promote policy change needed to empower and support private enterprise and educate stakeholders on the role of the private sector in diversifying growth, driving competitiveness, and achieving sustainable economic development.
  • Establish links and collaborative relations between the Research Chair and other research institutions, the private sector and policy makers in Oman and globally.

The Research Chair is very keen to perform the following five values:

  • Educate to Innovate: our researchers, students and stakeholders collaborate in the creation of new knowledge that inspires individuals, companies and government institutions to transform themselves and their societies. This means that our research activities, teaching, supervision and training aim at exploring new ways or innovative methods to deal with complex social and economic challenges impacting our lives.


  •  Interdisciplinary by Nature: the roots of our socio-economic problems are complex and diverse, hence require a comprehensive interdisciplinary approach by sharing expertise from different disciplines to help bring about real change in our life. This makes us think more broadly about the identity, beliefs and values of our society, draw connections across different subjective boundaries, and work in partnership with other entities in order to reach realistic conclusions. 


  • Independence:  our diverse and broad range of stakeholders benefiting from our research activities requires that our research output is impartial and not motivated to serve the interests of one specific party at the expense of others. We abide by freedom to explore and express ideas, respect the views of others, and responsibility to learn from failure as well as from success to produce knowledge for the benefits of society at large.


  •  Socially Responsible Economic Activities: we hold the highest ethical values and social responsibility throughout our economic analysis and consulting services. This is the case when collecting, analyzing and presenting data and when inspiring private and public enterprises to make positive change in their society.


  • Sustainability: we consider sustainability as means and product of our activities. On the one hand, Chair’s endeavors will focus on the efficient management of existing resources and strive to create new capital and human resources to sustain our activities beyond its first there years. On the other hand, we are committed to the creation of a healthy green environment throughout the delivery of our activities and to supporting the government in implementing the principles of global earth summits.

The Chair has the following four priorities that will focus on in its first three years:

  • Explore how various economic models have delivered sustainable economic development within the services and industrial sectors, which contribute around 53 per cent and 45 per cent, respectively, in non-oil gross domestic product (GDP). It is important to investigate how these models can be used to facilitate future growth, diversification and economic integration.


  • Contribute to creating a business environment conducive to private sector development. This is done by addressing the challenges of building a strong private sector that can generate sustainable growth across a diverse range of industries and sectors and expanding its role in development through new initiatives such as Public Private Partnerships.


  • Provide advice and policy recommendations that support decision making at the corporate and government levels. Special attention is paid to the Oman Chamber of Commerce and Industry and how its members and the business community at large are affected by policy measures, laws and regulations introduced by the government.


  • Create a database for macroeconomic and microeconomic statistics and indictors of the Omani economy. The data will cover broad range of aspects of the economy such as gross domestic product, per capita income, population growth rates, unemployment, inflation rates, exchange rates, import and export statistics, trade balance, FDI flows, productivity, competitiveness, manufacturing vale added, tourists, hotels, registered companies in services, industry, agriculture and fisheries, etc.  


  • Function as a nucleus for capacity building by enabling academics, researchers, policy makers and industry experts to interact and create tangible solutions to persisting challenges. This is vital for the creation of a new generation of researchers and leaders, who can build sustainable economic infrastructures and devise viable approaches to better withstand future economic shocks.
  • Media

The Research Chair was established at Sultan Qaboos University on 21 February 2017 and entered into force on 2 April 2019.  This joint effort by Sultan Qaboos University and Oman Chamber of Commerce and Industry reaffirms their commitment of building a center of excellence in economic studies.

Operation of the Chair: it began with the appointment of Dr. Ashraf Mishrif, who has a vast experience in setting up and developing serval research clusters in UK and Gulf universities. He has published extensively in economic development and diversification, foreign direct investment, finance and banking, international trade and private sector development, as well as supervising 16 doctoral research projects (plus other 22 PhD theses as second supervisor) and over 90 Master’s theses, nine of them by Omani students, resulting in the awarding of Masters and PhD degrees. His experience in organizing international conferences, workshops and seminars attracted prominent speakers, policy makers and senior executives and participants from a wide range of academic, political and business circles, while serving as forums for networking, debating and exchanging ideas, and disseminating information. He also enjoys a broad academic, business and professional network spanning across the world with chambers of commerce, government departments, international institutions and multinationals, all of them have vested interests in unlocking the potential of the private sector and promoting private sector-led economic growth.

Dr. Mishrif has already begun to build on this experience by creating awareness of the existence of the Research Chair, its aims and objectives, and reaching out to establish collaborative relations with other universities, including the University of Cambridge (UK), University of oxford (UK), Georgetown University (Qatar) and Zaid University (UAE), as well as key stakeholders such as Oman Chamber of Commerce and Industry and Ministry of Commerce and Industry (Oman). He presented the Chair in two international conferences and been invited to participate in the technical committee of Oman’s manufacturing strategy 2014.

Venue of the Chair: it is located at the humanities research Center, Sultan Qaboos University. The Center has one furnished office for the Chair. It is planning to set up another four offices: one for the assistant to the Chair, two for two researchers and one for a coordinator. The work has not yet begun, but we hope that these will be available at the beginning of 2020.

Staff Recruitment: the Chair has approached several well-qualified candidates for recruitment at the level of assistant to the Chair, post-doctoral research fellow, researcher and coordinator. The recruitment process, however, cannot start until the partition work begins to ensure that the required offices will be available for occupants.

The Chair will be built around broadly inclusive ethical and sustainability principles, which are derived from regulatory frameworks, legal infrastructures, environmental concerns, resources scarcity and socially responsible risk management models. The result will be a comprehensive and common core of ethical principles that drive all related research themes, encourage efficient allocation of scarce resources, and promote long-term sustainable economic growth.

The Chair will have five key thematic components:

1. Economic Diversification and Social Development

  • Promoting gradual shift in diversification from the hydrocarbon sector to non-hydrocarbon sectors and industries such as manufacturing, tourism, logistics, transport, mining and fisheries. Diversification must also take place within both (1) the energy sector by shifting investment from extractive industries to renewables and (2) the production process in any given industry by expanding the range of products in terms of variety, size, shape and price.
  • Examining the impact of reforms on socioeconomic development, labor market segmentation, wage differences, Omanization and quality of national workforce, correlation between education system outputs and labor market needs and unemployment.

2. Private Sector Development  

  • Addressing the challenges facing private companies including lack of access to finance, low quality of education, low investment in R&D and low invention output.
  • Developing innovation systems that are compatible with Oman corporate and business culture, and policy guidance on improved efficiency and productivity of companies. Researching the relationships between education policy, investment in R&D, and advancement of innovation, knowledge and technology.

3. Governance, Regulations and Business Environment

  • Promoting and developing the concepts of economic and corporate governance in the context of the economic and business environment in Oman and the Gulf region.
  • Researching and developing innovative policy tools and governance systems that guarantee the rule of law; efficiency, transparency and accountability in public institutions; predictability in national economic policies; strengthening public sector management; and building capacity in civil services.
  • Good governance can be an effective means of forcing private enterprise to observe corporate social responsibility by contributing directly towards developing local communities and participating in the development process.

4. Trade and Foreign Direct Investment

  • Examining the challenges facing the creation of sustainable trade and investment regimes that are capable of developing export-led economic growth and integrating Oman’s economy with the global economy.
  • Developing innovative policy tools and strategies aimed at optimal maximization of foreign direct investment and free trade agreements in the development process, with particular focus on technology transfer, capital formation, employment, enhanced competitiveness, efficient regulatory frameworks, and engaging private and foreign investment in infrastructure development.

5. Financial, Fiscal and Monetary Policies

  • Examining the capacity of Oman’s financial system in supplying capital flows constantly and at a short pace of time, as well as the extent to which private enterprises have access to funding in terms of loans and credit facilities. Other topics such as the regulation of the finance industry and financial risk analysis and management will also be examined.

Analysis also focuses on key fiscal and monetary policies such as interest rate, exchange rate, corporate tax, value added tax, municipality tax and their impact on the business sector, in particularly SMEs and start-ups.



The Chair will achieve its objectives through the following activities:

Research Program:

The Chair will produce high quality research publications, which will make key recommendations to enhance the development of academic enterprise. Research projects will be led by the Chair and supported with the assistant of the Chair and researchers when they join the program, and their outcome will be made widely available.

The following projects are expected to be initiated and executed during the first three years:

  • The impact of free trade agreements on the productivity and exporting capabilities of Oman’s manufacturing companies.
  • Paradigm shift in Oman industrial policy.
  • Omanization: the challenges of building a competitive national workforce.
  • GCC’s unsettled policy for economic integration.

The Chair will initiate a joint research project with Zaid University, Abu Dhabi, UAE.

  • Optimizing the potential of Oman as a cruise destination: examining the country’s appeal among cruise tourists and possible implications for employment and income generation.



The Chair will contribute towards educating the next generation of young people as they embark on their careers in economics, business and finance. The Chair has already begun teaching the following courses:

  • Economic Development (BA in Economics and Finance)


Seminars, Workshops and Roundtables:

The Chair will conduct a series of seminars, workshops and roundtables on all five themes with a view to having more intense practical debate and discussion.

  • Economies Diversification: Approaches, Challenges and Opportunities for Oman.
  • Economic Diversification: Lessons from the Malaysian Experience.
  • Regulatory Reforms and Attraction of Foreign Direct Investment.
  • Enhancing Oman’s Exporting Capability
  • Evaluating the impact US-Oman FTA
  • UK-Oman Trade Relations
  • Public Private Partnership in Oman
  • Intellectual Property Rights and Industrial Development
  • Labor Market Reform: From Segmentation to Harmonization
  • Impact of Fiscal and Monetary Policies on SMEs


International Conference

The Chair will generate industry-wide awareness by holding a keynote conference with experts such as prominent scholars, business leaders or policy makers. The conference will encompass all five themes. The first annual conference is expected to be held at Sultan Qaboos University in 2021.

  • The 4th Industrial Revolution and Digitalization of Omani Economy.
  • Water and Food Security.
  • The Chair will ensure that our research is widely available through publications, including an annual refereed academic journal, monographs, books and policy papers. 
  • Dr. Ashraf Mishrif is the editor of the Palgrave Macmillan Book Series The Political Economy of Middle East. This existing relationship may be beneficial for publishing our research output.

Public, Media and Peer Engagement

The Chair will share knowledge and disseminate information to colleagues, researchers, business leaders, policy analysts and those with an interest in related areas.

Dr. Mishrif has been active in public engagement, commenting regularly on the political and economic affairs of Egypt and the Gulf Arab States in major media outlets, including the BBC, BBC Arabic Service, Channel Four, Sky News, Bloomberg, China Central Television Station (English). He has also been invited by respected international organizations and think tanks, including NATO’s Special Mediterranean and Middle East Parliamentary Group and Chatham House, Georgetown University in Qatar and UK Parliament to talk on the economic reforms in the Gulf and wider MENA region.