A massive redevelopment of Muscat’s historic Muttrah district has been planned, with Italian engineering company Sering International appointed as the design consultants for the project that is estimated to cost in the region of RO500 million. The aim is to redevelop one of Muscat’s most iconic areas to make it more modern, while retaining its current atmosphere and character.
Plans to redevelop Muttrah were first proposed nearly five years ago when it became apparent that the narrow, winding streets and alleyways were unfit for the increased amount of traffic they were having to handle.
Muscat Municipality is carrying out the project with the support of government-owned water company, Haya Water. The intention is to not only revamp Muttrah, but also improve the infrastructure in terms of sewage and water reuse.
Said al Asmi, general manager – projects for Haya Water, said to a local newspaper, “We are cooperating with Muscat Municipality on the infrastructure redevelopment of Old Muttrah. This is an integrated urban development, covering not only sewage services, but also the wider facelift of this old quarter. It includes the beautification of the entire area, its architecture, car parking amenities and so on. In effect, the old city will be transformed into a modern city, but its Omani and Islamic flavour will be retained.”
The areas falling under the redevelopment plan are Muttrah Souq and surrounding areas, the entire old Muttrah district from Bait Oman through to Souq al Lawatia and then on to the area from Riyam Park to the roundabout at the entrance to the Port Sultan Qaboos. All those involved in the redevelopment project are keen to stress that the key cultural and historical landmarks in those areas will be preserved.
At present, the project is still in the design consultancy stage, but once that has been completed the way forward and time-scale for the works will be finalised.
The redevelopment concept is to restore the buildings and make the area more accessible to tourists, but also to provide a sewage system to the district and to improve other infrastructures such as storm drains, telephone lines, fibre optic cables and improved electricity supplies.
These plans have been met with slight surprise and are proving to be controversial, as fears over the preservation of Old Muttrah and also financial concerns in light of the budget deficit issue both increase.