Workers build a housing facility and mosque in Oman's Duqm Special Economic Zone April 11, 2016. REUTERS/Fatma Alarimi
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On a stretch of barren coast 550 kilometers south of the capital Muscat, workers at a ship repair yard swarm over cargo vessels from around the world, labor that will help to determine Oman's fate in an era of cheap oil.But it's at the center of the biggest single economic project in the history of Oman, part of efforts to wean the country off exports of crude oil and gas and diversify into downstream industries before the country's limited financial and oil reserves begin to run out.Other Gulf Arab oil exporting states have cut spending on infrastructure and development projects in the past 18 months as low oil prices have strained their finances.Oman's finances have also been hit hard, but it does not have as much time as its neighbors. Total state investment spending rose 5.5 percent from a year earlier to 2.81 billion rials ($7.3 billion) in the first 11 months of 2015, even as the government ran a budget deficit of 4.07 billion rials, the latest official data shows.The government has so far spent $1.2 billion and will find it hard to come up with the billions more that will be needed if oil prices stay low.
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