May 23, 2013 | 06:28 PM (BD Time)
23 May, 2013 Thursday
Expatriates set up 'mini-Dholaikhal' industrial zone in Oman
. Business Report
The name 'Dholaikhal' is synonymous to excellence of entrepreneurship of rising Bangladesh in the light engineering sector. It means local innovations and adaptation of technology to serve the domestic requirements of small engineering products for say, cars, motor vehicles, factory spare parts and such other things.
Local workshops at Dholaikhal, in the old Dhaka city reproduce almost the same products of original producers using local lathe machine and such other equipments; and when packed and delivered to parties, one may feel the pulse of buying the same original products because of the skillful finishing. This is what means Dholaikhal in Bangladesh, almost a magic place towards engineering innovativeness.
But none has so far think of the emergence of a similar 'mini Dholaikhal' around Muscat, in the capital city of Oman in the Gulf oil rich region. Thousands of light engineering businesses have made the debut there which are owned and managed by the Bangladeshi expatriates.
For the last three years, light engineering enterprises have become home of flourishing business of Bangladeshi nationals in Oman where over 0.4 million workers are living at the moment and the number is on the rise every day.
Most of the light engineering businesses are located over a 100 square kilometre area of Mabela industrial zone where about 2,000 Bangladeshi-owned firms are doing good business with a workforce of over 20,000 Bangladeshis.
Two Bangladeshi siblings, Razaul Karim and Jashim Uddin, have their steel works there, which are employing 35 Bangladeshis and two Indians.
"I came to Muscat in 1979 on free visa and got my first job after two months for a salary of 36 Omani Rial (one Rial = Tk 210 approximately)," elder brother Karim told bdnews24.com.
He left his job in 1985 at the age of 31 to start his own business, a coffee shop.
"Now my monthly income from steel workshop is 0.3 million Rial, in addition to 0.25 to 0.26 million Rial from two showrooms," he said.
"In the beginning, it was very hard but with zeal and courage I continued to work hard and ultimately succeeded." Karim shut his first venture in 1991 and started supplying materials to various construction firms. He opened his first furniture showroom in 1996 and the next one in the next two years.
His younger brother, Jashim, came to Muscat in 1988 and assisted his brother.
All their family members are now living in Oman and their sons and daughters are either studying or helping them in their businesses.
"We started a light engineering venture in 2006, and within one year we got orders from Royal Oman Police for steel furniture ... and we never looked back," Jashim said.
The two brothers however feel that image deficiency is a big problem for Bangladesh abroad.
"Everybody thinks that we can work only as labourers and they get surprised when we introduce ourselves as businessmen," said Karim He felt that more government-to-government interaction is needed for better work environment for Bangladeshis in the Sultanate.
He said Foreign minister Dipu Moni had visited Oman from Apr 24 to 26.
But more such ministerial visit could bring change to the poor image and help expatriates Bangladeshi nationals in wining better deal and human treatment. Even a visit by Prime Minister could turn more rewarding, he said.
Oman is a big country, almost three times bigger than Bangladesh having a population of only 4.0 million and a vast cultivable land. Out of this, 3.2 million are locals.
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