Economic growth in Oman is expected to accelerate for the third consecutive year in 2012 as it continues to recovery from the global downturn, according to a government official.

GDP is forecast to rise 6.4 per cent in 2012 “despite a gloomy backdrop to the world economy and the [effects of the] Arab spring”, said Yahya Said al-Jabri, chairman of the Duqm Special Economic Zone (SEZ).

The economy expanded by 4 per cent and 6 per cent in 2010 and 2011 respectively after slowing to 1 per cent during the downturn in 2009. It grew by 18.9 per cent in the first quarter of 2012 compared with the same period last year, when assessed on current rates, Al-Jabri said, speaking at the MEED Oman Investment Forum in Muscat.

Foreign investment in Oman is expected to reach $2.1bn in 2012, almost doubling from the $1.1bn invested in 2011, he added.

Al-Jabri said the Duqm SEZ is a major focus for future investment in Oman. The sultanate is developing the central coastal city into the Oman’s fourth major port, which will house the country’s third oil refinery and a petrochemicals cluster.