The number of SMEs in the Sultanate fell by 31.2% year-on-year in the first quarter of the current year.

Jojo Puthuparampil is a business news writer for Inc. Arabia.

The number of small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) in Oman declined in the first quarter of 2017, compared with the same period of last year, according to a report issued by the National Centre for Statistics and Information (NCSI).

The number of SMEs in the Sultanate fell by 31.2% year-on-year in the first quarter of the current year, the report said.

However, the number of SMEs in the country rose 40.7 in March, compared with February. By the end of 2016, 23,221 SMEs were operating in the country.

The governorate of Muscat has the highest number of SMEs at 930, though it marked a 9.4% fall in the number of SMEs in the first quarter, compared with 1,026 in the year-ago quarter.

Dhofar registered a 43.6% drop in SMEs to 167, against 296 small units during the same period of 2016, while Musandam maintained its number at 12.

Al Buraimi too saw a drastic 45.7% drop in the number of SMEs, which declined to 44, from last year’s 81.

The trend continued in the governorates of A’Dhakhiliyah and Al Batinah North, with the number of SMEs shrinking by 55.4% and 48.9%, respectively, to reach 379 and 399 SMEs by the end of March.

A’Dhahirah recorded a 36% slide in the number of SMEs to 174, against last year’s 272, while A’Sharqiyah South and North saw SME numbers slip by 15% and 18.3%, respectively, to 164 and 178 against 193 and 218 in the first quarter last year.

In contrast, Al Wusta and Al Batinah South registered a strong growth in the number of SMEs at 16.7% and 8.9%, with figures reaching 42 and 270, respectively, by the end of the first quarter of 2017.