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RA Logistics – Muscat, Oman

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Interview with

Mr. Colin McKinlay
Managing Director

Colin McKinlay

First of all, Colin, what nationality are you, and what led you into a career in shipping ending up now in Oman?  Also could you enlighten our readers about the history and ownership of RA Logistics?

I was born in Edinburgh, Scotland and having spent many years working with the multinationals that included regular overseas travel, I always had a desire to be based overseas. I was offered the role as Country Manager Oman for CEVA Logistics and the rest is history. 

CEVA first traded in Oman as Circle Freight International some 30 years earlier which became EGL – Eagle Global Logistics and then CEVA Logistics. I was promoted to Regional Director UAE, Qatar and Oman and maintained my Country Manager role alongside – and the 6-day working week – Saturday to Thursday which was essentially 7 working with the ROW on a Friday.

We launched RA Logistics back in 2014 with my Omani Sponsor / partner and maintained silent partner agreement status with Logistics as one of the group companies stand alone business units.

In the past month, this has all changed, and Resource Allocation Logistics LLC has its own Independent Company Registration. I am a 50% shareholder with my wife and Omani partner retaining the other 50%.

Map of Oman's location in the Middle East

Do you have experience in handling oversized and project cargoes in RA Logistics?   Could you provide our readers with a few examples?

Yes. I was engaged with many projects during my career with Panalpina and CEVA from a wide range of aircraft and vessel charters to and from many exciting geographical areas.

As RA Logistics we have supported, amongst others –

Oman Air Aircraft Engines from Muscat to LUX/CDG/BRU. 15 supported to date.

Complex Land Rig Move from Duqm to Iraq including transport mobilisation to Port (over Christmas) and export customs clearance.

Complex Land Rig Move from Duqm to Iraq
Complex Land Rig Move from Duqm to Iraq

6,600 Dairy Cows imported, cleared and delivered to the New Dairy Farm in Sunainah from Australia – self-loading cargo like never before ……

6,600 Dairy Cows imported, cleared and delivered to the New Dairy Farm in Sunainah

Clearance and delivery of 2.2km Container Terminal Construction materials at Duqm Port. This included the fine art of bank guaranteed bonded clearance in Sohar and Salah and customs integration in Duqm – around the clock !! Great collaboration with our Turkish agent who supported all of the international shipping.

Oman is a big country and a beautiful one as well I have heard. As for the ports, can you elaborate a bit on the ports available currently in the country for import and export?  Which ports would you say are generally used for project cargoes, machinery, plant equipment, etc.?

Indeed Oman is a beautiful country, rich in culture and a fabulous place to be based. With 2,200 km of coastline, it has so much to offer and the main ports of Salalah in the south (1,000 km from the capital Muscat) and Sohar in the North (300km north of Muscat). Port Sultan Qaboos (PSQ – Muscat) was closed to container vessels some years back. However, it still supports some break bulk charters and Dhow vessels for local importers and exporters. Duqm, of course, is the new port some halfway between Salalah and Muscat and the new Mega City under development – now with its own Dry Dock, Break Bulk Terminal (JV with Antwerp Port) and the New Container Terminal we have just supported.

Road transport by RA Logistics

Is transit via Oman to Saudi Arabia, Yemen, UAE a possibility nowadays?

Maersk and others use Salalah port as a transhipment location for many of their mother vessels to feed the Arabian Gulf, Africa, and many eastbound and westbound trade lanes. Much of the Qatar-bound traffic from Saudi, UAE and Egypt was routed via Oman during the embargo; however, this has since been lifted, and it is business as usual. Oman plays an important neutral, often mediator, role within the Middle East region with friendly ties to all neighbouring countries. It is also working hard to position itself as a regional Hub for Logistics Support in the region with its vast Free Zones in Salalah, Duqm and Sohar.

6,600 Dairy Cows imported, cleared and delivered to the New Dairy Farm in Sunainah

How about customs clearance in Oman. Is that generally working well or would you have any rule of thumb to observe prior to shipping?

Oman moved away from the old labour intensive manual system to online Bayan some years back. [Bayan is the Omani online electronic customs data system.] This is a much more user-friendly system with direct access to customs to overcome any clearance-related issues. It is important, of course, to work behind the scenes to ensure accuracy of documentation, HS Classification, Import Licencing and Customs Inspection where this is required, etc.

We can have shipments pre-cleared to speed up the final release and delivery process.

Oman and the USA have had a Free Trade Agreement (FTA) for the past 11 years under which products can be shipped to and from both countries on a Duty Free basis – provided you have all your ducks in a row – and we are here to support this for our clients in Oman and USA.

48ft long crates IAH-LUX-MCT on CV 747 Nose Loading Freighter
48ft long crates IAH-LUX-MCT on CV 747 Nose Loading Freighter

Correct me if I am wrong, but I understand Oman and the rulers there to be kind of neutral between Iran and Saudi Arabia from a business and political standpoint. Is my understanding correct?  It would be interesting to know from someone actually in Oman and not from some journalist sitting far away.

Some say Oman is the Switzerland of the Middle East and often works as a mediator as mentioned above. Shipments flow freely from Oman to Iran and vice versa, and they remain neutral in a heartwarming, friendly manner. Our leader, His Majesty Sultan Qaboos played a very important role here hosting visitors from some unlikely neighbours that we see the benefit of today. Sadly, after a 49-year reign he passed away January 2020; however, he left a very important legacy. With new leadership firmly in place, Oman continues to diversify in new areas to become less reliant on oil revenue—circa 1MM BPD (Barrels Per Day) which makes up the biggest contribution to GDP.

From the standpoint of visiting Oman as a tourist, are there any places that you could recommend in particular?

There is so much to do and see in Oman from the beaches to the mountains, Turtle Beach, the home of Frankincense and so much more. Book yourself a tour guide, let them know what you like to do, and the world is your oyster.

How is it possible for our readers to get in touch with you?

Mobile is always on: +968 9760 6925.
WhatsApp is the same number.
Skype is banned here!
Email of course: colin@ra.cc