MUSCAT, 14 February 2016 - The corporate social responsibility (CSR) and sustainability strategy pursued by Bank Muscat, the flagship financial services provider in the Sultanate, continued to deliver long-term benefits to the community and the environment in 2015. The bank maintained its leadership position in CSR with impactful initiatives that stood out for its core values.
Bank Muscat CSR programmes in 2015 were focused on key areas, including youth, sports, health and education. Along with ongoing projects, the bank also launched new initiatives.
Endowed with a global outlook, Bank Muscat remains Omani at heart, truly a classic case of service without boundaries. Bank Muscat is the first bank to establish a full-fledged CSR department in Oman. Considered among core values, the CSR policy stems from the bank's commitment to social responsibility encompassing all-round development vis-à-vis society and economy.
In keeping with the thrust on SME development in Oman, the bank explored new opportunities in partnership with the Information Technology Authority's SAS Programme, showcasing start-ups by youth in the field of Information Communication Technology (ICT).
Since its inception, the CSR Department has taken major strides in nurturing a socially responsible culture in the bank, bringing benefits to different segments of society and touching the lives of hundreds of people. In line with the corporate ethos, the bank employees were engaged in creating opportunities to help the community through activities such as blood donation and charity food festival.
The following programmes sustained the CSR momentum as the bank worked in close co-operation with government establishments, social and voluntary associations to promote sustainable development benefiting society and the environment.
Jesr Al Mustaqbal: 'Jesr al Mustaqbal' (Bridge to Future) programme is a commitment by the bank to provide Omani youth with opportunities to build a strong foundation for a better future. The bank, as part of its commitment to partnership in supporting Omani youth, signed an agreement with the Ministry of Higher Education to provide eight scholarships to Omani students pursuing undergraduate programmes in Oman.
Bank Muscat launched 'Jesr al Mustaqbal' in 2012 in execution of the directive of His Majesty Sultan Qaboos Bin Said to provide relevant educational and training opportunities for Omani youth to develop employable skills. The comprehensive Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) initiative is targeted at young Omanis - both male and female from social welfare families who have not been able to complete their education for various reasons.
Tadhamun: During the year, the bank carried out the Tadhamun programme to distribute basic electronic home appliances to social welfare families across the Sultanate. The CSR initiative launched by the bank in association with the Ministry of Social Development has to date benefited over 300 families. The initiative is a fine example of the public-private partnership launched by the bank to foster a relationship with different segments of society. The bank distributed essential electronic home appliances, including air-conditioners, refrigerators, deep freezers and cooking ranges for beneficiary families. The bank employees were involved in the distribution of home appliances, visiting beneficiary families in several locations in Oman.
The Tadhamun programme underscores the bank's commitment to complement the government's efforts in social responsibility and thereby strengthen the hands of underprivileged segments in society. The bank seizes every available opportunity to channel resources for creating sustainable, positive changes in communities by investing in their welfare to equip them for a better life.
Green Sports: The Green Sports initiative launched by the bank in 2012 gained momentum with a total of 49 teams across the Sultanate benefiting from it till date, of whom 19 teams have completed the greening of football fields.
In 2015, the bank widened the scope of Green Sports initiative beyond the greening of football fields. Football teams seeking Green Sports support can now choose from four options i.e to either green their football fields with natural or synthetic turf, or avail support to affix flood lights or water desalination equipment to facilitate greening of fields in areas facing problems of water salinity. The move is aimed at providing wider representation to teams to build a sustainable sports infrastructure in all parts of the Sultanate.
The football fields developed as part of the Green Sports initiative also serve as a meeting place for children and youth to be engaged in gainful activities. The fields are used to host various activities such as Ramadhan nights, group weddings and other celebrations. Such community activities are helping children and youth develop strong positive character traits.
The consistent progress of the Green Sports initiative confirms the bank's commitment to the programme aimed at providing ample opportunities for young Omanis to develop their sporting talents in an ideal environment.
SME Academy and TV: Over the years, the bank has launched a series of initiatives as part of a comprehensive plan to support SME development in Oman.
Marking the 45th year of Oman's Renaissance anniversary, the bank widened the scope of al Wathbah Academy training programme to benefit 30 aspiring entrepreneurs from Batinah and Dhofar regions as new centres were opened in Sohar and Salalah to offer 8-month SME training programme leading to accredited international certification. The CSR initiative is aimed at equipping entrepreneurs with self-employment skills boosting the country's progress and development.
During the year, the bank launched al Wathbah SME TV, the first educational video channel in the banking sector in Oman with the sole objective of helping SMEs gain 24/7 access to vital information that help drive their business further. The dedicated online channel for SME customers mainly include videos featuring experts sharing critical information on subjects that help SMEs gain in-depth understanding about business operations integral to succeed.
SAS exhibition: The bank, in association with the Information Technology Authority's SAS Programme, hosted an exhibition featuring SME start-ups in the field of Information Communication Technology (ICT). The 'Omani Start-ups & Technology' exhibition was aimed at supporting Omani youth and promoting entrepreneurial initiatives, complementing government efforts in strengthening the role of SMEs, particularly the knowledge-based sector, in the economic development of Oman.
In light of the Sultanate moving towards a digital society, the exhibition assumed importance for the participants drawn from the SAS Programme which aims to set up a national technology business entrepreneurship for the Sultanate in coordination and collaboration with government and non-government stakeholders to encourage entrepreneurship and the development of IT and IT related small and medium businesses.
The enterprising youth participating in the exhibition showcased SME start-ups in the field of ICT, including gaming, animation, graphic design, online payment platform using telecom prepaid cards, 3D design, social media and mobile development.
In recognition of outstanding voluntary programmes in support of society and citizens, Bank Muscat was honoured during the presentation of His Majesty Sultan Qaboos Award for Voluntary Work. As the leading bank in the Sultanate, Bank Muscat recognises that sustainable development is the key to achieving long-term benefits spanning environmental, economic, social and cultural dimensions. The bank strongly believes in the need for bringing about a positive change in the lives of different segments of society and focuses on all types of projects that fall within the framework of social responsibility and their importance and overall benefit both to society, individuals and the environment.