Ollie’s trip to Oman

In December, I was privileged to be invited to present at Oman Export Week, in Muscat, Oman. The invitation came from Ithraa, Oman’s award-winning inward investment and export development agency, to present a session on preparing your website for exporting to international markets – I would be one of several presenters over the course of five days, with two other presentations on my day. Having previously been involved in the development of the Muscat Youth Summit website several years ago, I was excited to visit and discover what Oman had to offer.

I was joined on the trip by Diri and Tom from Creative Nerds who were also presenting, a digital company we have worked closely with on many projects and set off late Monday evening on an 8 hour flight to arrive early Tuesday morning. When we left the UK, it was 6 degrees – when we arrived in Oman, it was already 23.

We were met by Ithraa and moved through visas and security to meet Dr. Carl Diver from Manchester Metropolitan University, the first presenter of the day and the final of our group. We drove quickly to the hotel, where we checked in, had some breakfast and then settled in to our surroundings. After preparing for the following day, we had some very welcome dinner and drinks by the pool, before retiring for the day ahead.

Muscat’s exhibition centre is a beautiful new building just a few minutes from the hotel with numerous bright conferences rooms that seem to extend for miles. Just outside our room were large billboards celebrating the strength of Oman’s businesses.

The day’s three presentations all segued nicely into each other’s. The first presentation of the day was from Dr Carl Diver, who drew on the success both of Manchester’s football teams and its recent renaissance at the heart of the Northern Powerhouse before working with the participants to create a Business Model Canvas for their digital business. My presentation followed, leading the participants through a roadmap workshop where we audited the current state of their digital infrastructure before drawing up a roadmap for the coming months to put themselves in a prime position for exporting – focusing specifically on the free tools available to make their offering as strong as possible.

It was fascinating to speak with the attendees on the digital strategies they use for their business, particularly discovering that WhatsApp plays a significant role for many of them. The final presentation from Creative Nerds covered the opportunities available on social media and introduced the participants to Canva, where they quickly drew up some great imagery which could be shared on social media. The three sessions were very well received and we hope that we left the participants with a better understanding of what they can do over the coming months to prepare themselves for entering new markets.

The final evening in Oman, we visited Mutrah Souq, a beautiful souq just outside Muscat itself, where we were able to sit and watch several cruise ships go by – with 1,000 miles of coastline, it’s unsurprising that Oman supports a lot of water-based industries. Following a final sleep, breakfast and taxi ride later, we were on our way back home to the UK.

I’d like to thank Ithraa for the opportunity to speak at Oman Export Week, particularly Dave Pender, who made our visit feel effortless. Thanks also to Diri and Tom from Creative Nerds and Carl from Manchester Metropolitan University for being great company out there. Finally, thanks to all the attendees on our day, it was a privilege to be able to speak with them and I wish them every success in the future. May I spend many a future December day in a warmer climate!